Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review - Another World 20th Anniversary Edition (Vita)

A World of Pain

Originally an Amiga title, Another World (or Out Of This World in the USA) blew gamers away in the early 1990's thanks to its impressive animation and atmospheric alien world to explore. You played as Lester, a young professor working on dangerous particle acceleration experiments. One night, after arriving late at the lab one night (in his Ferrari, as the computer needlessly points out) to continue his work, disaster strikes when lightning hits the roof during a critical moment in the experiment. Lester is then transported to a strange alien world, and must escape. It was a pioneering title that would pave the way for more expansive adventures such as the unconnected follow-up title Flashback, Abe's Odyssey, and Tomb Raider. It could perhaps be considered the Uncharted of the time.

Despite this, I was never a fan, finding it a rather dull and frustrating experience, and soon forgot all about it. Besides, Flashback, was infinitely better, both for visuals, atmosphere, story and gameplay. Regardless, I came to Another World's HD remake with a reasonably high level of enthusiasm. After all, after 20+ years, maybe the developers would have removed all the rough edges found in the original and improved the gameplay. Well, no. Not exactly. This is a remake in the loosest sense of the word, with only some "improved" visuals and sounds to separate it from the aged original. Admittedly, the new look is better, though it only really consists of extra details and some lighting in the backgrounds. You can flick between the original look and this new HD paintjob at the press of a button, but this only goes to showcase how badly the original has aged. Both the cutscenes and the ingame animations - once heralded as breathtaking - now look laughably bad and the backgrounds are so sparse that it fails to immerse you in its world. The sound is extremely minimal, but this was always the case. You can choose from a new remastered soundtrack, or the CD soundtrack from the original CD-ROM based console versions.

But, as we all know, graphics aren't everything, and it's the gameplay that counts. Unfortunately Another World is one of the most aggravating and joyless games I have played since, well, the original I suppose. The controls are horrible, with one button used for kicking, shooting (when you have a gun) and running. This is really unnecessary when you consider how many buttons the Vita has. Much, much worse, though, is that Lester's movement is so slippery and twitchy, with the platforming sections - requiring precise jumps over holes and enemies (often while outrunning hazards) - being especially hideous to play. The dull environments are absolutely chock full of instant death traps and enemies that you have absolutely no way of avoiding unless you have died there already. If you thought Rick Dangerous was bad in this respect, you ain't seen nothin' yet. At least Rick's tongue-in-cheek nature kept the mood light. Here, it is utterly obnoxious and cannot be defended. It's just terrible game design.

Let me explain one section fairly early on, so as to give you a clear picture of what awaits you if you play Another WorldAfter navigating a selection of instant death pits, you shoot a wall in order to unleash a torrent of water. You then have to run back, jumping over the pits as you go. The problem is Lester's pathetic and imprecise jumping, mixed with the fact you run into the pits almost the instant you enter the screen. You eventually make it past, walk several screens further, only to be killed by an enemy who walks onto the screen just as you are about to leave it. You then have to repeat the nasty jumping section again! So you do, gingerly making your way onto the screen, defeating the enemy, and continuing on. But, as soon as you leave the screen you are flung back, grabbed by another guard. You frantically tap buttons and Lester kicks him in the nuts, only to be dropped facing the wrong way. You turn and tap fire, only to discover your gun has now gone. In 2 seconds the guard has shot and killed you. The game sticks its finger up at you and makes you repeat the whole sorry sequence all over again. These insanely annoying experiences happen constantly throughout the game. In fact, this is all Another World consists of. It is relentless and fucking awful.

I simply had to admit defeat and delete all traces of this game from my Vita, as I could feel the red mist forming every time I played it, and I genuinely feared for my handhelds safety. Another World is yet another one of those retro games that is heralded as a classic by many. Yet I wonder if many of these people have actually played it, or just like jumping on retro gaming bandwagons. I absolutely despise Another World, both in its original and new HD form. It is a horribly designed mess of a game with zero fun factor. Maybe people with the patience of a saint, or those wearing extremely strong rose-tinted spectacles, may get some entertainment value from it, but I would rather eat broken glass than play this obnoxious garbage again. Just play Flashback or any other 2D platform adventure - Lord knows, there are plenty of them out there to keep you occupied. Another World can fuck right off!

Title : Another World 20th Anniversary Edition
Developer : Digital Lounge
Year : 2014
System Tested : PS Vita
Also On : iOS, Android, 3DS, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii-U
Price : £6.49 (Vita)