In 1991, lone developer Eric Chahi created a science-fiction epic that still stands as one of the most evocative, immersive, and challenging adventures of all time. Originally released on the Amiga, Chahi’s Another World has been ported to countless platforms, renamed Out of This World in the US, and now, 20 years later, it hits iOS as a universal app.
Another World – 20th Anniversary chronicles the mysterious journey of a lone research scientist named Lester. Working late one stormy night, he finds himself witness to a massive particle accelerator overload. One second our hapless hero is in his lab, the next he’s swimming in a pool of water on a completely alien world. From the first second, Lester is running for his life, and this constant race for survival never lets up.
Another World is legendary for several important reasons. The game does something very few games have done, especially in this day and age. It thrusts players into an alien environment with no direction or warning, and instant death everywhere. The game can be beaten in less than an hour once you know how, but the keys to survival must be learned through trial and error.
A spiky death is just a hop, skip, and jump away.
It’s frustrating to be sure. At times, Another World feels as though it were designed as a sadist’s delight, but there’s an incredible sense of satisfaction in getting through each section. Admittedly, the high difficulty level is at least partially due to how locked the controls are with the overall graphics and animation engine.
The game’s animation system was revolutionary for the time, but it also made perfect timing a necessity. Lester must be in the right frame of animation to respond to a control function, so the game frequently feels unresponsive. The addition of pure touch controls utilizing various swipes instead of a virtual d-pad is a creative addition, but doesn’t really make the game any more responsive. Players can still opt for a virtual d-pad if the swipe controls are just too alien. Another great feature is the ability to switch between the original and enhanced graphics at any time.
Another World was thoroughly impressive when it first came out thanks to its use of real-time 3D graphics. While even the enhanced, high-definition graphics might look rather primitive by today’s standard, it’s easy to see why the game has endured for so long. Characters are made from a pitifully small number of polygons, with bare bones shading, and the overall color scheme is kept to a few somber colors.
Yet, with this minor palette and low-level graphics pushing the game, Another World manages to tell an engaging and exciting story with virtually no dialogue or anything other than ambient sound effects and occasional dramatic music. When Lester teams up with an alien prisoner, the game creates a partnership that remains one of the most profound in all of gaming.
So, 20 years later, Another World still manages to provide a distinctive, original, and wholly difficult science fiction experience. Even with the new ‘normal’ difficulty level, which essentially doubles the number of save spots, the game is an exercise in frustration and trial and error.
For all the complaints, however, this is still a worthy purchase. Whether it’s for a veteran gamer who played the original or a newcomer hungry for a challenging sci-fi adventure, Another World remains a memorable journey.