Drowned, poisoned, mauled, lasered, scalded, lasered, splattered, lasered, impaled, lasered and crushed. Not the last few minutes of robo-Rasputin, or even my recurring dream of Chris Tarrant, but the first few minutes of Another World. It's a remake of a 1991 escapade that appeared on the Amiga, and dearie me they don't make 'em like they used to.
For those who remember it fondly, rest assured this is a sympathetic restoration. The 16‑colour backgrounds remain, but can be switched to hi-res should you desire. The music and effects have been re-recorded, but by the original composer - and again, it can be switched back to the original. Polished up or just as it was, the choice is yours. You're still going to die.
For those who don't remember Another World, it's about a Ferrari-driving scientist called Lester who unwisely experiments with a particle accelerator during a thunderstorm. Transported with his desk (spoiler: the desk gets it) to some bizarre planet, Lester has just a couple of kicks, a hop, a skip and a raygun with which to survive. It's not long before he's slung in a cell, where he makes an alien friend; you must help him survive, too. Sometimes for up to three seconds at a time. Insta‑death? There's almost no way you'll live through anything first time.
Happily, this 15th Anniversary edition comes with various extras, such as a strangely shy 17 minute making-of documentary, a development diary and an entirely baffling 'technical handbook'. Even the readme is interesting (mousing over the screenshots demonstrates the graphical upgrades) in a nerdy kind of way.
And Another World is all, dare I say it, terribly French. In these politically correct times, 'vive la différence' doesn't mean anything, because difference is assumed to mean inferiority - that's why mentioning it is 'offensive'. But nuts to such nonsense - difference and change are life itself.
And surely only a Frenchman would turn an accident with a particle accelerator into an existential crisis? Lester is no Gordon Freeman, no pseudo-nerd who can't help but become a world saving, all-American hero when the world calls. Lester is a lost and lonely character prone to melancholy; the game is apparently more about 'a feeling' than anything else; the alien world itself is a blue, chaotic, incomprehensible place seemingly in its death throes. How very Francais. Vive la différence!
Or perhaps, Viv... [dies]. As I may have mentioned, Another World is austerely unforgiving, which can be quite a barrier between its mournfully atmospheric charms and the average player. Especially the average modern player who's used to such things as staying alive, or having loads of moves and equipment with which to tackle things, or not suddenly smashing everything in the room with the monitor stand in a red haze of broken-patienced fury.
Yet if you treat every screen, every second as a life-or-death challenge, and can forgive the odd poorly placed checkpoint, Another World remains an entertaining challenge and a highly affecting, moody and curious place to be.
Sort of. There's still a far higher chance that the endless repetition and sheer murderousness of the difficulty curve will just drive you insane, on the other hand. Just so you know.
A cleverly updated classic