Another World

Another World cut scene

"Welcome to Super Platform World! You can walk forward by pressing the Right button". "Uh oh! There's a small pit in your way. Try jumping over it with the X button". "Want to backtrack? Press the left button to head the other way". "Oh, good job! You went left! Well done you, you big dullard you. Have an achievement!".

Ah, the tutorial level. Originally a nice touch, it has since evolved into a crutch for designers and worse, an expectation, as if the player couldn't carry out the most basic of tasks without hand-holding. Another World (Out of this World in America) was the opposite. You're thrown into the game without a clue as to your objective or even the controls, and left to figure things out. Another World credited the player with some intelligence, and was all the better for it.

Attempts to bring a cinematic experience to the systems of the 1980s and 1990s were by and large failures; efforts to emulate visuals far beyond the hardware's capabilities would result in a slow, garbled mess or an adventure with limited interactivity and no replay value. Eric Chahi, on the other hand, resisted the urge to attempt the impossible and instead developed an original art style that could both convey that cinematic quality and work within the limits of the systems available. Dark and muted colour palettes with ocassional splashes of colour perfectly depict the stark alien landscape in which you find yourself.

There are so many great touches: Background details that become important later on, the constant howl of the wind during the outdoor stages and very brief in-game cut scenes that maintain the game's visual style while showing key events from another angle. It all adds up to make the whole thing incredibly atmospheric and to foster a sense of wonder that never lets up.

It's hard. If I wasn't afraid that children might be reading, I'd even say "bastard hard", but it's rewarding. You'll be forced to retry the same sections again and again, but you'll forever strive to find out what's next. Along the way you'll explore an alien city, escape from jail and make a friend. There's more to be said for Another World than I could hope hope to cover in this short write-up. I suggest you play the game or listen to Eric Chahi talk about it in his own words. A triumph!

Another World

James Curry, May 30, 2011