It’s weird that Another World makes an appearance on Beat the Backlog, as it was only a few weeks ago that I was telling our Tom (prior to his excellent video review) that the gameplay shown in Jump Ship’s trailer to Somerville really reminded me of the classic Amiga adventure game. It’s a game I owned on the SNES some 20-plus years ago, and I was a combination of not smart or patient enough to complete it at the time, despite loving the bleak setting and impactful scenes. And then, entirely randomly, after scrolling through 50 pages of shovelware on the Switch eShop, I stumbled across Another World again and quickly decided to splash out a whole £1.79 to overcome the ancient shame of having never reached the end.
At A Glance
|Added to Backlog
|Circa 1993 for the original, 14 Oct 2023 for the remaster
|£1.79 (£1.04 after Gold discount)
|+ Incredible sense of nostalgia
+ Fun (if ancient!) cinematics
+ Pretty decent environmental storytelling
|– Laughably short when you know what to do
– Ruthlessly unforgiving
– Tonnes of ‘gotcha moments’ and trial and error
|4/10 (7/10 based on nostalgia)
|Also Available On
|3DO, Android, GBA, iOS, Mega Drive, PC, PS3, PS4, SNES, Wii U, Xbox One
|Find out about our scoring policy here.
Booting the game up for the first time in a lifetime, the title screen brought back a flood of memories. Most of those memories were hazy at best, made up of bits and pieces of various levels that I had only managed to reach thanks to some level select codes I found in an old Games Master cheat book back in the day. (Also, speaking of “Bits and Pieces”, that happens to be the name of the electronics/games store that I bought the pre-owned cartridge from all those years ago – man, I miss that place.) The opening cinematic shows a casually dressed scientist pulling up to his lab in a rather flash Ferrari, before booting up his particle acceleration experiment up amidst a lightning storm. As fate would have it, a bolt of lightning hits the lab at the exact moment that the experiment comes to a conclusion, teleporting the scientist to an alien planet in an explosion of light.
While Another World brought back a lot of fond memories, make no mistake, it is a game that looks every bit 30 years old. The cinematics are really effective at telling the tale of the game, but they’re each made up of just a handful of polygons and look sharper than a box of smashed Halloween cinder toffee. I still love the rotoscoping though, and the characters movements it generated continue to stand up all these years later.
The anniversary edition on the Switch offers you the choice to play with the original pixel art or ‘high definition’ graphics that round off the edges and upscale the resolution to modern hardware standards from the minuscule 320×200 offered in the original release. The new visuals offer some better lighting and add depth to the environments without offering a full reskin ala Lizardcube’s relaunch of Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap, and I applaud this decision – the original pixel art still looks pretty good, expressing a decent amount of detail and atmosphere whilst also remaining somewhat minimalist.
Like many games from an era that relied on difficulty to make up for a short runtime, Another World is utterly ruthless – I’m no longer surprised I couldn’t finish it as a kid! Quite literally everything in this new world wants to kill you and there is absolutely zero room for error in trying to avoid the myriad of dangers. From pixel-perfect jumps to suddenly appearing guards with lightning reflexes and some rather horrible flora and fauna, you’ll see yourself killed in a tonne of different ways and more times than you’ll care to count. And that’s not to mention the action button that’s used to both run and shoot and the rather spotty button recognition, both of which come as a legitimate hindrance: I’d recommend only playing Another World if you’re in a particularly patient mood.
After a lifetime of believing that Another World was a sprawling adventure where young Drew had only experienced the tip of the iceberg, my modern playthrough of Another World lifted that veil from my eyes. I fought my way through the entirety of the game in less than four hours and what stood out was that there were only a handful of short levels in the entire game. Atmospheric and characterful though they are, the levels are all misleadingly elongated by the endless attempts they’ll require in your first playthrough, though I genuinely think I could run through the whole game in 35-45 minutes now that I know the solutions to all of the puzzles.
After all these years, Another World still tells a great tale and is chock full of exciting moments – I had a tonne of fun with it, but it’s such a product of its era that I fear it’s unlikely to endear itself to modern audiences especially well. The original pixel art visuals may shine in the retro-renaissance we’re living through, but the 3D cinematics look thoroughly ancient and the entire runtime is shorter than a modern tutorial once you know what to do. If you’re a fan of old-school experiences and want to play a shining example of adventure from a bygone era then give Another World a try, just be prepared for endless trial and error and more “gotcha” moments than an M. Night Shyamalan marathon.
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