One of the most innovative games in any genre, Out of This World (a.k.a. Another World in Europe) is Eric Chahi's breakthrough game that masterfully combines action, adventure, and artistic cinematography in ways the PC gaming world has never seen. |
You will sense that Out of This World is something special right from the start, even before the game proper begins. The introductory sequence reveals that you are Lester, a young physics professor who suddenly finds himself in a strange alien world after a lightning bolt struck the gigantic particle accelerator he was experimenting with. This sequence has one of the best use of camera angles I have ever seen in games: you will see various cinematographic touches (e.g. Lester walking toward the camera, which then zooms to his back) that are common to movies but rarely seen on the computer.
The game's style and technology are worth mentioning, before I get to the gameplay. Instead of bitmapped or digitized graphics that were all the rage in the early 1990s, designer Eric Chahi instead opted for primitive-looking polygonal graphics to represent the characters... and what an excellent move it was. Polygonal graphics allow for very smooth, realistic character animations that would be impossible to do with digitized graphics (and remember: this was before the age of 3D accelerators). Even die-hard fans of Prince of Persia will admit that Lester moves much more smoothly and realistically than their favorite Arabian prince.
As for the game itself, Out of This World is ostentatiously a platform game, but turns out to be a lot more. The controls are very easy to learn: only the cursor keys and spacebar are used. Although much of the game involves killing menacing aliens, whether by kicking or shooting once you find a gun, what sets Out of This World apart from other action games is that wit and astute observation are also equally important. Simple trigger-happy behavior won't help you slink past the alien version of the saber-tooth tiger, nor will it help you escape from prison. In later levels, you will also need help from an alien friend, a fellow inmate who escaped together with you. Since you cannot control his actions but can only observe what he does, planning and timing are critical.
In every respect, Out of This World is a masterpiece. The only gripe I have is that you can only save at predetermined points throughout the game, similar to console games. Since the later stages are very difficult and save points are few and far between, this means you will have to replay them over and over until you get it right. Regardless, this is one game you will want to persevere through. I spent countless hours with the game, gritting my teeth all the way, and was sorry to see it end. Also, as a side note, the ending music theme is among the best music I have ever heard in any game, although the ending sequence is disappointingly short. Overall, a classic game that defies the tropes of the action genre. With excellent plot, atmosphere, and ingenious survival-of-the-fittest physical puzzles that fit perfectly with the game world, Out of This World is an action-adventure the likes of which none has ever seen. An absolute must-have, and a much superior game to spiritual sequels Flashback and Fade to Black. If you want to play a true sequel, check out Heart of the Alien that was released exclusively for the SEGA CD system.
Reviewed by: Underdogs