This year will be the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking French platform/adventure game, Another World (renamed Out of this World for its early North American versions and Outer World in Japan). It was originally developed for the Commodore Amiga and has been ported to numerous formats since.
I was intrigued by it from the moment I saw its unique and stunning art style in magazine screenshots. But since I didn’t have a computer newer than a Commodore 64 in 1991, and the one Amiga owner I knew didn’t have the game, I had to wait until it was ported to consoles (which wasn’t guaranteed to happen).
The first console to receive a port was the Super Nintendo. After reading some positive reviews in Electronic Gaming Monthly, I asked for that version for Christmas 1992 alongside Sonic 2 on Genesis and Shinobi II on Game Gear. With those Sega games, I knew what to expect as they were direct sequels and pretty safe bets. I was a bit nervous about whether or not I would like Out of this World, though.
When I first fired up the game, I was greeted to a cinematic intro unlike anything I had seen before, even on the new CD-ROM formats. The smoothness and detail of the animations was incredible, something still pictures hadn’t prepared me for.
The gameplay starts with you being teleported to an underwater section of a foreign world, and you need to swim to the surface. You are never really told what to do in the game. It’s up to you to explore and find ways to advance via environment manipulation puzzles or running from enemies (or shooting them later on). Compared to most games, there is a lot of trial and error involved. With its death scenes, I was quickly reminded of the old Laserdisc arcade FMV game Dragon’s Lair, and that’s not coincidental as creator Eric Chahi cites it as an influence.
Unlike Dragon’s Lair which is an interactive cartoon and only has basic inputs such as tapping a direction at certain points, you have a lot more control over your character. Controls are very similar to its other big influence, Prince of Persia, with its “step-based” jumping, i.e. your character leaps after its current running animation instead of immediately. The old Tomb Raider games also employ this type of platform jumping but in 3d space. These type of games have since been labeled a sub-genre of platformers. Former game industry writer Travis Fahs (some of you might know him as Frogacuda on message boards) coined the term “cinematic platform game” in the 2000s and I think it suits these games well. Platform game - Wikipedia
It didn’t take me very long to beat Out of this World but it was so satisfying. And there are plenty of creative moments in it that I don’t want to spoil for newcomers.
Other people I showed it to back then were impressed, too. My dad wasn’t into video games and often commented on how many of them looked like the same thing over again. Not this time. He loved the movie-like presentation and wanted to try it. He jokingly asked if I chose the main character’s hair colour since I had red hair. I’m mostly bald and grey haired now. I suppose I haven’t aged as well as the game.
My great uncle was staying with us that Christmas. It was the only time I ever met him and I was shocked that someone over 60 years old in 1992 was already familiar with it. He was visiting from England and mentioned it being called Another World over there. My Amiga owning friend (also from the UK) wasn’t much of a console fan and didn’t really like most SNES/Genesis games I showed him but he was blown away by its art direction and detail.
Another World never had a sequel that did the original justice. EGM labeled Flashback as a sequel in a preview but that turned out to be a different cinematic platformer from the same company, Delphine Software. Heart of Darkness, a 1998 Playstation/PC game made by Chahi and Amazing Studio, shares some similarities with Another World but not quite enough that I would call it a spiritual successor.
The actual sequel is an odd one. It was exclusively released for Sega CD and only came out in North America (not counting the recent homebrew Amiga port). I beat the game while renting it in 1994 or 1995 and honestly don’t remember much about it other than the fact you play as the alien sidekick from the first game and they made the death scenes more gruesome. It was now the blood and guts Mortal Kombat/Doom era after all. I liked it but nowhere near as much as the original. It was developed by in the US by Interplay and after its release, Eric Chahi expressed disappointment with it and said it didn’t fit with his vision of the series. At least Heart of the Alien includes a quality port of the first game.
In 2006, Chahi released a PC remaster of Another World with some touched up graphics as Another World 15th Anniversary Edition (the same name across regions this time). This was the first digital-only game I ever bought. Several ports based on this have been made available since. I had fun replaying it on Vita, PS4, and Switch. There have even been physical versions from Limited Run Games in recent years. I can’t say I ever expected to buy a Nintendo system cartridge version again but I’m not complaining.
What are your thoughts on the game?