Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition

Another World, also known as Out Of This World in the US, was a massively influential game originally developed for the Commodore Amiga which eventually found its way on to many other platforms like SNES, Megadrive, and even Mac.

Having been a huge fan of the original version on the Amiga 500 and not experiencing the game in at least a decade, I jumped at the chance to revisit this retro classic. Twenty years is practically ancient in the world of gaming, so how well does Another World hold up in the 21st Century? Let’s take a look…

First Impressions

Hosting CERN-style experiments alone while a thunderstorm rages is probably not the best idea...

Hosting CERN-style experiments alone while a thunderstorm rages is probably not the best idea...

I’m going to get this out of the way first; I love the retro graphics on Another World and think that this updated, higher-resolution version looks fantastic on the iPad. Indeed, when writing this review I had to remind myself not to post too many screenshots, something which rarely happens.

Upon launch, Another World shows a cinematic series of scenes which help to lay the foundation for the fun which follows. The story opens with main character Lester Knight Chaykin arriving to his underground science laboratory in a very 1980s-looking Ferrari. The scientist then proceeds to perform an experiment which isn’t fully explained but seems to involve anti-matter in a fashion somewhat similar to CERN. However, just as any Sci-Fi B-Movie fan will tell you, it’s a terrible idea to perform such an experiment alone in a thunderstorm and as lightning subsequently strikes the building, Lester is thus transported to an alien and hostile planet.

Gameplay

The game's controls are simple and translate well to touch

The game's controls are simple and translate well to touch.

Unlike some other retro games which have been ported to iPad, such as the Another World influenced cult-classic Flashback (which incidentally isn’t a sequel, despite rumours to the contrary), Another World’s strategy-defined cinematic and immersive gameplay seems to lend itself better to the iPad’s touchscreen. On the bottom of each side of the iPad’s screen is a small thumb area and touching this will shoot Lester’s gun. Swiping down anywhere on the screen makes our character crouch and pressing left or right will make him walk in that direction, swipe to run.

Though it’s a platform game to be sure, the story and strategy elements make Another World feel less action-orientated and there’s rarely an issue with controls. However, when one of those issues do arise, it often results in frustration – there were more than a couple of times when I fell off a ledge or died at the hands of a sentient being because of this. Control issues are mitigated by an overall very good auto-save system which makes sure that the user need not go too far back in time after dying.

Another World's ambiguity adds to its appeal

Another World's ambiguity adds to its appeal.

The storyline moves the game along in a way which is compelling, and as long as one doesn’t get stuck on one of the many unforgiving puzzles which one needs to navigate past, it makes for a very rewarding playing experience.

Sometimes it isn’t apparent what one should do in a given situation and this could very well find you flummoxed and lost. For instance, while stuck in the cage as shown in the screenshot above, one needs to touch each side of the screen to build up momentum while Lester shifts his weight and makes the cage rock. This ambiguity is one of the many minor aspects of Another World which helps to keep it relevant today.

Does Another World Have Crossover Appeal?

Lester finds himself in Another World and it's full of aliens hellbent on killing him

Lester finds himself in Another World and it's full of aliens hellbent on killing him.

I do wonder whether a younger generation of iPad-gamer who have never experienced titles like Another World in their heyday will be able to see past the unforgiving gameplay and mildly frustrating controls in order to take the game on its merits, but ultimately some games justify their excellent reputation and titles such as Doom, Civilization Revolution and Another World are all great examples of this.

Conclusion

The iOS port of Another World is a faithful recreation of the cult classic which transfers all of the charm from the Amiga 500 right into Apple’s latest and greatest portable technology. That it holds up so well even twenty years after its original release is a testament to the designer’s talent and vision.

The game does contain some quirks shared by most retro-games and if you’re expecting a slick, 21st Century gaming experience it may not be for you. For myself, however, Another World is more than worth the purchase price and I would recommend it to anyone seeking some good old fashioned strategy-based platform gaming.


Summary

A faithful port of the 90's cult classic, Another World 20th Anniversary should provide hours of entertainment for existing fans and newcomers alike with its cinematic gameplay and compelling storyline.

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