What was I supposed to do again?

Review of Another World – 20th Anniversary
Developer: BulkyPix
Price(15/9/2011): $4.99
Author’s Rating: 3 / 10 (being generous)

This game is good for: Nostalgia addicts looking for a retro fix.

“kids these days don’t…”,

“they don’t make them like they used to…”

“there’s no school like the old school…”

“good times….”.

Another World is one of those games that you’d probably mention in the same breath as those sentences, in that, the only thing fueling its enjoyment would be nostalgia and not much else.

I will disclose that I didn’t play Another World when it was a PC game, but I am old enough and more than familiar with the Adventure genre, and games from around that era. I will also add that I love retro games as much as anyone my age does. I am admittedly guilty of yearning to go back a couple of decades and thinking about how my life as a kid was so damn sweet, and other such smile inducing monologues.

So when it came to reviewing Another World, I was thinking “f**k yeah 90’s”! And promptly parted with $4.99 to get it on my ipad. So I fired it up, and was treated to the nice opening sequence where “you” (a rather young looking Professor) arrive at your lab in your Ferrari , and get zapped to Another World from wrongly messing with the ancient computer machine thing, with that pre Windows green letter OS.

It took me a few seconds to figure out the controls: You can swipe to move, or use a D-pad and button. I chose the D-pad and button (I’ll talk about that later). Oh yes, and another cool thing is that you can swipe the screen with 2 fingers to toggle the graphics between “90’s mode” and the new beefed up graphics (an interesting feature).

So I was all set to immerse myself in this other world of wonder, and forget about my boring self for the next few hours…

Then I died. What the heck? 1 minute into the game and I die?

Then I died again. OK, so maybe I should focus. So I focused.

Then I died again. Seriously, this isn’t fun.

Then I died again. #$%#$#!@ RAGE QUIT.

I was bummed out. After spending 5 bucks on a game, one would expect to be like, seriously engaged for at least an hour. And I was disappointed, very. So I left it for the night, and went to bed. The next day, I started thinking about it, and decided that I need to at least get past the first part. Maybe I need to “get it”, it is after all, a classic, a part of gaming history and all that.

I needed to “get it”. So I tried my best to play it.

Many deaths later (you die a lot in this game), I had enough.  I decided that I had just wasted 2 hours of my life.

I will not discount Another World’s heritage and well deserved “classic” status, so don’t hate on me for not being respectful. My main beef with Another World is that it’s, by today’s standards, rather dull and mostly unplayable.

First and foremost is the game itself, or the “adventure” that you’re supposed to be immersed in. There’s absolutely no variation in anything that you can do to navigate through the story line. It’s either you jump over that leftover skeleton from the other poor sod that zapped himself to Another World, or you die. It’s either you take a wrong turn or you die, and you take the right turn and you live, and then you die if you take the wrong turn again. In other words, you are stripped of any semblance of choice in your actions.

Next is the controls. The swipe to move thing? It really feels like the developers decided that they needed to utilise the touch interface of iOS devices for the sake of it. It serves no purpose apart from letting them claim they have swipe controls on the itunes store. Developer masturbation at its best. As for the d pad, it’s really really cumbersome (although this can be said for most games). You end up dying not because of a lack of skillz or intelligence, but because your controls let you down.

Put together, these gripes make Another World seriously unfun. I know that its supposed to be challenging, and progress is based “trial and error”, and that the reward is supposed to be in solving the issues that the protagonist faces and therefore find out what happens next. The problem is, “what happens next” is usually something really really mundane, like encountering a wall that you’re supposed to shoot through with your blaster pistol. That sort of thing doesn’t raise anyone’s heartbeat even slightly, not by today’s standards at least.

Yes, there are scenes where you’d sit up and say “cool”. But then you’ll die and encounter that wall all over again, killing off any buzz that you might have got from the “cool” scene. This eventually becomes a horrid chore, and you feel like you’re watching a movie in slow motion while having to work really hard to view the next chapter. Then have the movie rewind over and over again.

Here’s a sample of that experience:

Yes, there are scenes where you’d sit up and say “cool”. Then you’ll die and encounter that wall all over again, killing off any buzz that you might have got from the “cool” scene. This eventually becomes a horrid chore, and you feel like you’re watching a movie in slow motion while having to work really hard to view the next chapter. Then have the movie rewind over and over again.

In the end, Another World is seriously, just an over glorified memory game with many cut scenes of you dying. The problem with it is the exact reason why a specific demographic of person would get excited over it: It feels like 1991. It belongs in a museum or an encyclopedia, together with the other outdated things that gives us an understanding of where we are today. As a game, for your entertainment, you’re probably better off investing your money and time in something else.

Review by Gnoke Red

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