Eric Chahi's classic game Another World (also known as Out of this World) has been released as a universal app for iOS, and it's fantastic. Many gamers are familiar with the frequently released title, but this was my first experience with it. For the uninitiated, Another World is a cinematic platformer originally released for Amiga that focuses on the adventure of Lester, a young scientist accidentally transported to a hostile alien planet. Lester meets a friendly alien and the two struggle to survive and escape. The game is told without dialogue, which gives the story a very atmospheric, ethereal tone.
Another World's gameplay is brilliant ... and difficult. Very, very difficult. Cinematic platformers don't work like Mario or Sonic, which gamers are well-accustomed to. In a cinematic platformer, the player needs to time every movement correctly. A great example of this occurs about halfway through Another World. Lester must move from the right side of a cave to the left, but there are carnivorous plants in the ground that can't be killed, and deadly tentacles hanging from the ceiling waiting to kill Lester. The player must jump over each plant, run past each tentacle and keep running so that Lester jumps a little further over two plants that are next to each other. This sequence took me the greater part of my 90-minute morning commute. Even for a veteran gamer, this kind of sequence is so far-removed from today's type of video game that anyone will find this game a challenge. The trial-and-error gameplay could be considered frustrating, but the game is very addictive and highly rewarding. For every seemingly insurmountable trial Chahi puts the player through, there is a great chase scene, change in setting or cool cutscene.
The presentation helps the game shine. Both the original Amiga and remastered graphics are available, both of which use rotoscoping to create a fluid, smooth game world. As this is an iOS release, controls have been tweaked to optimize the experience. There is the virtual touchpad, which many iOS games use, and there is a new touch-based control system. Both are very intuitive and never get in the way of the game experience. I mostly used the virtual touchpad, but I have a feeling that I'm in the minority there. The music and sound design is also top-notch, with a minimalist style that adds a lot to the experience.
Another World is not a long game. For someone who can perfectly navigate each scene and not die, the game could probably be finished in a little over an hour. But mark my words: it will take you a lot longer than an hour on your first play-through. There are several different difficulty settings, including a 'Normal' setting for the less-familiar gamer.
As someone who is tired of five-minute iOS gaming experiences, this game couldn't have been more satisfying. With a captivating atmosphere, thrilling and satisfying gameplay and simple and tight storytelling, Another World needs to be on your radar next time you log on to the App Store. Hopefully Eric Chahi's spiritual successor, Heart of Darkness, will surface on the App Store someday too!