Perfection from Another World

It’s a big claim to state that a game is perfect or nearly perfect. Another World is, though. After avoiding this game for over two decades, I finally understand why it is a marvel. I understand its influence. After all, it is said that this game influenced Hideo Kojima and Suda51. That’s for better or for worse. Those two are behind some incredible games. They are also games with massive missteps, too. Don’t get me wrong. Metal Gear Solid 3 and No More Heroes are two of my favorite games. That doesn’t absolve them their shortcomings. Another World isn’t above its own.

What makes Another World so close to perfect is its combination of simplicity and scope. From the beginning, the game presents very little direction. The player receives instruction, then is thrown into a world that is supposed to be explored. After the opening cinematic, the player is teleported into a lake without any indication that control has been handed over or that players can even swim. From there, the player likely drowns if it’s the first time playing the game. Then the player realizes that it is literally sink or swim in this game’s world. No one explains that running to the left from the big beast will take the player to a vine that let’s them swing around the beast. No one explains that hitting the attack button after an alien has grabbed you will kick it in the junk. No one explains that, in another situation, going to the left will take the character into the background. Yet at no point does it feel unfair. Except in terms of shootouts.

The only point in the game where controls appear on the screen is after picking up a gun. Guns have three modes: shoot, shield, and charged blast. Knowing how and when to switch between the modes is the key to continuing in a couple of spots in the game, with the problem being that bad guys may walk up to the shield, stick their guns on the other side to shoot your character in the face. It’s not even a matter of skill to avoid it. It’s a matter of luck with the actions they take. There are mitigation strategies, but nothing seems to work consistently.

Despite that, the game successfully takes the player on an adventure with little context. Aside from the shootouts, there are no unnecessary moments in the game. That makes it brief, which is not a bad thing. A fun game that is brief can be played over and over again without feeling like a chore. And for my money – and this is literally the money that I spent on the game – that is exactly what I want. I want games that make me want to come back again and again, to go on that adventure and re-explore the world. Some people want a game that makes them lose themselves in a world. I think getting lost is a trap, and a game that makes you willing to come back is so much more powerful.

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