Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another World (aka Out of This World)

Another World is a classic action platformer that is available on many consoles and OSes. I recently got around to playing this game and absolutely loved it.

In Another World you traverse a 2D alien world using platforming, rudimentary environmental puzzle solving, and combat. The most unique and hard aspect of this game is this combat which is completely done through a laser pistol; Additionally, this laser pistol (as well as the other unique features) are not explained in many walkthroughs nor are there any hint and tip articles about this particular game that I could find, so I will try to give some instructions for use along with this article.

The first thing to know about this game is that it is extremely short (30 minutes too an hour) if you know exactly what you are doing, but without hints, tips, a precise walkthrough, and (not or) previous hands on experience it could take anywhere from 10 hours, 20 hours, or even many times more. The reasons for this is both the extreme difficulty of the game with the check-point nature of saving and the pseudo open world sandbox-yness of the game world. The hardness is pretty standard classic fare, with not only most locations needing pin point accuracy and rapid reaction time but many needing prior knowledge of what you will encounter on the other side of a screen or what will appear after you walk past a certain spot; But these challenges are only a small part of what makes the game so time consuming. The open worldliness is the most potentially time consuming and quite unique to boot. Often you have multiple paths open to you at all times, but all but one of these paths will result either in a dead end in which you must back go back to your last save point to try again or end up in an impossible to survive situation. Not that it is all guess and check work, one of the best ways to figure out if you are going in the wrong direction is simply that your game will not save (which it normally does quite rapidly). Eventually, all of these paths are traversed but a specific linear order must be followed.

When you first get your first and only weapon, the laser pistol, it has a very limited number of shots and you have to almost perfectly conserve the charge for a handful of fights until you encounter a charging station. In combat, as well as the rest of the game, everything is instant kill but in combat you have one advantage, an energy shield. With this pistol you, and your enemies, are able to perform three types of shots by charging the pistol for progressively longer. The first shot, produced through a simple button tap, fires a regular laser shot that will either kill anything it touches or slightly damage any energy shields. The second shot is created by charging the shot for a short while, creating a temporary energy shield that wares out over time and use and stops any energy hurtled at it but allows physical matter to pass through it. This shield is created slightly in front of you but with your gun still forwards enough to fire through it; Correct use of these shields are the corner stone of the combat and necessary for survival. The third shot takes quite a long time to charge but packs quite a large punch; Capable to blasting through doors, some walls, and instantly through any shield this shot might be one of the least used but it is a life saver when used correctly.

But probably the best part of the game is the alien and brutal environment. With its unique and beautiful vector graphics and mysterious atmosphere Another World is a treat to explore. Most of all the brutality and danger of the worlds hits you. At every turn everything seems to be capable of mercilessly, efficiently, and viscerally dispatching you. All in all it creates a wonderful unique world that I would recommend to anyone, but I would recommend reading a walkthrough as you play even more.

My mini-review of Another World.


  1. Ah man, I remember this on the Atari ST - pretty groundbreaking at the time! (Polygons instead of sprites - who'd have thought it?!?!)

  2. So how did you find the hardness and the esotericness of some of the puzzles then? I was using a walkthrough so never allowed myself to get stuck for hour after hour but I imagine that you might not of had access to a walkthrough back then?

  3. I'm afraid I wasn't very good at it - I'm pretty sure I never completed it. Back then no internet (well, hardly any internet) and don't remember seeing a walkthrough in ST Format or ST User.

  4. Lovely write-up on a lovely game dear Jonathon. Never finished it back during the Amiga era, but I did love it to bits; despite its frustratingly unfair design. Did grab the 15th anniversary edition from gog.com, but haven't played it yet.

  5. I completely get not being able to finish it, there are some puzzles so obtuse with absolutely no indication that is what you have to do and do precise that it could literally take you thousands of tries (easily) to randomly come across the right combination.

    But using a walkthrough I found it to be a wonderfully cinematic experience.

  6. I fully intend to do so... :)