Updated: Jan 21
Another World, the classic 1991 cinematic platform adventure game is relaxing, punishing, and brilliant!
In the year 1991, a solo indie developer called Éric Chahi released what could be one of the most iconic one-man games ever to be released for the Amiga & Atari ST. The game tells the story of a young scientist by the name of Lester who is transported to "Another World" when an experiment goes wrong. The adventure is filled with dangerous creatures that will transport your mind Out of This World!
One of the amazing things about this game is that not only did Chahi develop the game alone but he also created his own GAME ENGINE to run the adventure. He crafted his own visual art style from vectors to help reduce memory and even used rotoscoping to plan out Lester's and other characters' animations.
The game is a fascinating blend of slow build atmospherics and incredible cinematics for such an old game. Its use of little to no dialogue to tell the story of Lester and his encounters with Buddy (his alien escape comrade) as they battle their way across the alien world earned a huge amount of respect from many game developers. From playing this game all the way through (which you can see here on the Grief Burrito Gamer Channel) I completely understand how this game influenced games such as Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Ico. To have such a consistent and believable universe crafted out of such simple visuals and sound design is something that I cant hold in high enough regard!
The mechanics of the gameplay was something that actually kept surprising me during my playthrough. The shooting is actually strange enough that you feel like you're using an alien weapon! You have your basic laser shot when the shoot button is pressed once, you can hold and release for a brief moment to create a red sparkly energy shield or you can hold a little longer and charge up your own stronger blast (which apparently was inspired by Dragonball Z's Kamehameha). This is used to break scenery and blast through enemy shields and I promise you will be needing this.
Another World's movement will take a little getting used to. You have to commit to your controlling of Lester to make sure you make jumps accurately and in time. If you hesitate... even for a moment... He will die. Horribly. I did find surprises here too, however! I don't want to ruin moments for you if you play it but there are moments in this game where I found myself shocked at what was achieved by Chahi.
There are moments of this game that are particularly challenging. Namely, the cave filled with water. This is the original Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Screaming and whaling I eventually got through it and was left elated by the rest of the game! Was it the sheer vacuum of anger left inside me that the only thing that could fill the void was happiness? Sure. Maybe. Either way, I'm happy I played this and I can see why it's held in gaming history as a moment of triumph for indie developers.
I experienced the game briefly as a teenager after finding an old Sega Megadrive at my Grandmothers house (why she was a Sega head I'll never know) but after getting stuck reasonably early on I never went back. But the game always stayed with me as being fascinating. The ambiance of the world had stayed rooted firmly in the back of my brain, so when the 20th Anniversary Edition of the game became available over on Steam our little podcast community jumped at the chance to revisit it. We'll be releasing a full podcast episode about it too over on our Podcast Page so make sure to check it out!
If you've played the game we'd love to hear what you thought :)