Review: Another World, a great cinematic platformer
It took an intense two years of development to create this single player cinematic platformer on the Commodore Amiga. You play with Lester Knight Chaykin, discovers a hostile world in the middle of a civil war, after his Project 23 particle acceleration experiment is botched by a lightning storm, and it plunges him through space to an unusual planet. As the original auburn haired video game scientist, seven years before Dr. Gordon Freeman, the least of Lester’s problems are having to leave a can of fizzy pop and his fancy Ferrari behind. Thankfully Lester makes one friend, an alien appropriately called Buddy, and it’s refreshing for a story to be told from in-game action, rather than speech or text, because to Lester’s ears Buddy’s language sounds like Urukai. The animation sequences in Another World look Amazing as they unfold, but controlling actions can feel overly fiddly, and the delay it places on the timing of jumps can be very frustrating. In any case, you will die a lot in Another World, because learning from your mistakes is a core part of the game design. This is a game about survival, and death is everywhere. It’s not just alien creatures that initiate one of the numerous vicious death animations, but hazards like drowning; falling rocks, deadly steam, and laser blasts are all also potentially fatal.
The main gameplay mechanic is to explore the surroundings, yet die unexpectedly from a one-hit kill, so that you can learn from that particular death; you can then alter your actions to proceed. The gameplay is inherently repetitive, but it still has variety. Regardless of trial and error progress, it’s satisfying to solve a puzzle without any help. The planet is a living and breathing world, it feels alive with alien birds, leeches, and dangling tentacles so many of Lester’s actions have an impact on the environment. Your rechargeable gun has three modes, from a quick tap of laser fire, to casting a shield, and a powerful mega shot that clears blocked routes. The way that you approach an enemy influences their actions, so the cause and consequence mechanics also apply to conflict. Therefore, while you wait for Lester’s gun to recharge, it’s possible to defeat an enemy with their own grenade, or by using a fixture in the backdrop. For wave attacks it’s crucial to master quickly building a temporary shield, which necessitates that you learn how to reach Lester’s gun arm through it, so you don’t waste shots by blasting your own protective buffer. There is a slight element of patience required early on in protecting and guiding Buddy, who saved you in the beginning of the game. Another World is truly a masterpiece and probably helped Commodore selling more Amiga computers in the early 90’s.