Taking Cover: Another World

First published in  CubedGamers (Printed Edition): October2016

Having materialising at the bottom of a water filled hole on an alien planet, our hero Lester, a physicist whose particle accelerator is hit by lightning during a vital experiment, transporting him across the universe, stops to survey the overwhelming landscape, whilst his new companion “Buddy” looks on pensively. The evocative cover art of Another World (or Out of This World in the United States – to avoid confusion with the daytime soap opera) is a classic design for an epic game, designed almost completely by one man, Eric Chahi, who had previously worked for French adventure game studio Delphine.

The ironic thing about it though, is that once you’ve played the game, you’ll find that Lester never comes close to posing in such a manner in the game. He doesn’t get the chance. Having clambered out of the water, the player instantly notices that a strange beast in the distance has scoped him out. Running to the left, Lester first has to dodge a bunch of flesh eating slugs – by kicking them out of the way – before he is chased back in the other direction by the beast. Swinging on a vine, he runs back in the other direction again, only to be captured by some malevolent hunters and put in a cage.

The rest of the game is spent trying to escape from a city/compound, and it’s a hell of a ride. Though he picks up a gun, Lester never has a spare moment between the moment he arrives to the end of the game. Only briefly do you get a sense of how vast your environment is, and that’s only if you choose to stick your head out of a window! This is partly because the game is a platformer. Not to be harsh, because Another World does have its set piece moments, but it’s not the best platformer out there. The main attraction, after all this time, is still the unique vector graphics and minimalist style.

The game was hugely successful when released, as well as influential. Many video game designers have voted Eric Chahi’s creation as one of the games that inspired them the most, particularly from Japan. Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame said it was one of the games that influenced him the most, as has Fumito Ueda, one of the developers of Ico. Chahi’s name has continued to be revered, even though he didn’t release another title until 1998’s Heart of Darkness, a similarly plotted game in which a young boy travels to another world to save his dog.

Though it’s been 25 years since its release, Another World is just as playable on an Xbox One console as it was on the Amiga, the Atari, the 3DO, and the dozen other platforms it has appeared on throughout the 1990s. Though a sequel – Heart of the Alien – was released for the Sega Saturn, many fans do not consider it canon, due to minimal involvement from Chahi. Updated in 2011 to HD for a 20th anniversary edition, and available on a number of downloading platforms including Good Old Games, there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick up this enduring classic.

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