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Out of this World Review Rewind


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On 07/13/2021 at 11:00 AM by Jamie Alston

The Great Escape
RECOMMENDATION:

Worth a purchase, especially if you’re an Ico or Metal Gear Solid fan curious to see the game that inspired gameplay elements in both.

Out of this World (aka Another World) was initially developed and released for the Amiga and Atari ST personal computers by French game designer Eric Chahi in 1991. The game was later ported to the Super Nintendo, among other home consoles. Out of this World garnered much praise for its intriguing visual style and storytelling ability. In most games from this era, text or dialogue was usually the vehicle used to drive the story forward. But this one did it differently. Instead, the ever-changing situations, dangers, and victories all worked together to tell the story without a word.

The game centers on the exploits of Lester Knight Chaykin- a scientist with an apparent affinity for sports cars and conducting particle accelerator experiments in his lab during thunderstorms. True to a typical science fiction plot device, a stray bolt of lightning strikes the building and teleports Lester to a world not his own. But, as he soon finds out, the perilous danger is in good plenty, and the odds of survival aren’t on his side.

Awareness of one’s surroundings is a theme interwoven throughout the entire game, which is made painfully clear off the bat when you start your adventure in a pool of water. I won’t spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t played it, but I’ll just say that staying in the water isn’t the best course of action.  The abilities and limitations of Lester are pretty realistic. There are no health meters, power-ups, or vast weapon arsenals to be discovered.

All you have are your normal abilities to kick, jump, and fire a laser gun you find early in the game. Other than that, it’s just you and your wits against a hostile alien world. If you get shot, you’re dead. If you mistime a jump and land on a bed of spikes, it’s lights out for you. The realistic approach to Lester’s vulnerabilities made you care about his welfare much more so than if he could take an impossible amount of abuse and still walk away unscathed by the adventure’s end.

The game doesn’t focus strictly on puzzle-solving as much as it does on exploration and thinking ahead. Gaining the upper hand on your enemies requires more than just firing your gun at the first sign of trouble. Early on in the game becomes clear that the guns blazing strategy doesn’t work in every situation. In some respects, Out of this World feels akin to the early Metal Gear series. Patrolling guards off-screen react if a shot is fired in their direction or if you sometimes walk too close to the edge of the current screen.

There were many times when I’d end up getting killed because I neglected to take out guard-A, who now came to the aide of guard-B that I’m fighting with. Of course, there are certain situations where you have no choice but to contend with two or more of your enemies at once, but those moments make themselves evident to you. As if the guard patrol weren’t enough, you’ll also have to beware of other creatures that want to eat you.

Early on, you’ll come face to face with a ferocious beast that will test how fast Lester can run, but that’s the least of your worries. Part of your journey involves making your way through a cave that’s less than friendly to passersby. The creepy tentacles wiggling in the ceiling and chomping orifices on the ground will present their own unique challenges to reaching your goal of making a successful escape from your hostile surroundings.

With all these dangers to deal with, it would certainly be fantastic if a friend was there to help. Fortunately, Lester has such a friend. Not long after beginning the game, you’ll end up in the company of a benevolent alien who is also trying to escape cruel imprisonment. Once the two of you team up, your buddy becomes invaluable by opening doors and helping you to evade the enemy before they can get a hold of you. This symbiotic dynamic is the other central theme of the game. Your success depends partly on him and vice versa. With this element, it makes for a more believable story than the all too common one-man army deal.

The graphics were phenomenal for a 16-bit console at the time. The rotoscoping technique used to produce the visual style allowed the game to bring a very cinematic experience to the player. While playing through the game, you’ll notice that there is no written dialogue at all. The visual presentation really lends itself to this fact since it does all the talking for each character. Unfortunately, all of this graphical detail on the Super NES comes with a price. The frame rate is lower than in most other versions, especially the Sega Genesis and PC ports. This sometimes creates problems when you need to do a series of running jumps, or rapidly fire your weapon to break down multiple shields and whatnot.

While there’s not a great deal of in-game music, it works to an advantage. There’s a higher focus on your surrounding environment and presents just the right tense feelings as you get closer to the danger ahead of you. There are a few differences between the Super Nintendo and Genesis versions. Most notable is that the Genesis version features specific sound effects missing from the other one (like the sound of slaves digging into the ground in the backdrop of the prison area). Such differences are relatively minor, and I prefer the Super NES audio quality anyway.

After playing through the game a few times, I made an interesting observation— perfection is not required of the player when guiding Lester and his pal in their perilous journey in this strange world. Attempting a perfect play-through of a game like this requires you to have an impeccable memory. Instead, you’re encouraged to look before you leap. If you like a decent adventure short on words and heavy on visual storytelling, then Out of This World is a gem that you can appreciate.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

SanAndreas

07/13/2021 at 12:28 PM

This game and Flashback are available as downloads on modern systems. I think they even gave Flashback a physical release.

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

07/13/2021 at 01:59 PM

I remember purchasing the PS3 remake of Flashback. Are you talking about the original version getting a re-release on modern platforms? If so, I need to check that out.

SanAndreas

07/14/2021 at 11:10 PM

Both are on Switch for sure and likely on PS and Xbox as well. This game is available under its original title, Another World.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/14/2021 at 06:40 AM

I remember dabbling in this game when I was a kid, but despite its mystic, I could never understand or get into it. 

Cary Woodham

07/16/2021 at 08:02 AM

I never really played this game, but I saw it a lot at demo stations at game stores and computer places like Babbage's.  I only remember the first part of the game where the buffalo monster thing chases you.

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