I’ll be honest with you, I almost didn’t review the iOS version of Another World. Not because I didn’t like it. Quite the opposite. And not because I lost the staff royal rumble to see who would cover the game either. Oh no. Trust me, my elbow drop is feared in the Touchgen offices. No, I almost didn’t finish this review because the game is so damn hard.
You know the deal. You remember how Another World was pretty much a revolution when it first dropped on the Amiga in 1991. You remember the awesome cinematics and slick animations because you were drooling over them at the time. You remember the story of Lester Knight Chaykin (potentially a great wrestling name there), a physicist who is transported to an alien world when one of his experiments goes wrong.
You also remember the sound of glass shattering as you hurled your joystick through the bedroom window. You remember crying yourself to sleep at night. You remember the unforgiving, sadistic level of difficulty.
Twenty years later, nothing much has changed. Another World is still harder than a hardback book written by a former Mafia hardman called ‘How To Be Hard’. And it’s still maddeningly addictive because of it. If I had dared to play it on hardcore; the most challenging difficulty level, I’d probably be on the way to a padded cell by now.
As Lester, your aim is to escape the alien world full of deadly monsters and rumbling earthquakes. Controls come in two flavours – a virtual pad that controls movement, and a swipe to move option. Bulkypix get kudos for providing more than one way to play the game when they could’ve easily slapped an awkward virtual D-Pad on the screen and be done with it. Both methods work well.
The graphics have received a HD upgrade; a phrase which usually has me rolling my eyes. However this time it actually makes a palpable difference, and you have the option to revert to the old school visuals if it so pleases you. Swipe down with two fingers and you’ll instantly see how the game looked when Home Alone was number one at the box office. The HD sheen adds smoothness and more detail to the textures, and you’ll repeatedly swipe up and down in the first few minutes as you struggle to believe how jagged things used to be .
Two decades ago Lester’s languid animated strides and the first ever instance in videogames of the cutscene (yes, it’s true. Don’t question me) lent the game a cinematic feel that was unmatched at the time. To it’s credit, even today where every game features more camera angles than a Christopher Nolan feature, and for a game that has no music whatsoever, Another World still manages to retain that quality.
Part of that is the uncluttered screen. My control preference was swipe, in which the resultant hudlessness both had the game resembling an oil painting, and made me feel like I really was in a strange, alien world with grunting brutes wanting to kill me. Or Manchester, in other words. The other part is down to the undeniable tension created by the game’s difficulty.
I mentioned earlier, this game aint easy. Forget a detailed instruction manual and backstory, Another World throws you into the action with absolutely no explanation. I was dead before I even realised the first cut scene was over. Am I qualified to review this game? Be quiet.
The gameplay can be summed up thusly: each screen is its own puzzle and If you don’t do exactly what it wants, you die. It’s that simple. Let’s say you’re attempting to jump over what looks to be a rudimentary gap in the scenery to get to the next screen. Unless you time your leap to precisely the correct frame in animation, you’ll fall to your grizzly death, impaled on a rocky stalagmite.
Oh yes, frustration lurks round every corner lest your reactions are right on the money. You should be able to walk through that door, but guess what? You forgot to push the button on the wall five screens back. Unfortunately, this means there are five screens worth of hairy beasts and Neanderthals with laser guns to run back through. That’ll teach you not to pay attention first time round.
So yes, a Gameloft title this is not. In fact, this is as un Gameloft as you can get. This is the anti-Gameloft. No hand holding or giant pointy arrows here my friend. If you want to play with the boys from Bulkypix, prepare to bleed.
I’m not ashamed it took me the best part of an hour to get past the second screen. I tried everything to defeat the shadowy beast that pounces into your path: Jumping up and down (stupid), running towards it (don’t ask), and reaching for my gun (wait a minute, I have a gun? Oh, no I don’t). In the end, it turns out the way to progress past the big black monster – get ready for a free tip here- is to run away from it. Fight or flight, who says games aren’t realistic?
So gameplay boils down to trial and error, which admittedly may not be everyone’s cuppa. It also means that one moment you’ll be whooping with delight and the next, gnashing your teeth in frustration. Once you crack the code to move on to the next screen, you’ll feel an intoxicating sense of achievement which will propel you onto the next, and the next, and the one after that. Common sense tells you to put the iPhone down and go do something else that’ll ease the throbbing in your head, but you’ll keep coming back for more. You’re a sadist. You love the pain.
I tend to get a bit nervous when remastered classics appear on modern day systems, and to be honest, I didn’t have the highest hopes for Another World when I caught wind of it coming to iOS. But real attention has been paid to making sure justice has been down to this handheld version. Everything you loved about the 1991 release is here to savour, and the game has translated surprisingly well to the iPhone. Just beware the crazy difficulty. The same crazy difficulty I’m now going to ramp up to ‘Hardcore’ and attempt to play through. The padded cell awaits.
Another world is out now as a universal app for iPhone and iPad for $4.99. Get it on the