In the third part of this series about games, time and loss, Rab remembers Another World.
RPS Feature Other Places
RPS Feature Loving the alien
Another World’s 20th Anniversary Edition is now available on Steam. In 1992, when I first played it, discovering something so beautiful and strange contained on two disks seemed like an act of science fiction in itself, and realising that I can now download the entire thing in about four seconds is astonishing. Eric Chahi’s enduring voyage is a masterwork of visual communication and companionship, and it has grown in my memory over the two decades since its original release.
Well that was amazing. Eric Chahi just finished up a post-mortem of Another World (aka Out Of This World) at GDC. While the wider gaming press was writing all caps tweets about Another World coming out on iPad, I was wiping away a tear generated by powerful waves of unmitigated nostalgia, and Chahi’s funny, moving explanation of how the game came to be as it was, which I will write up in detail a little later. What was most fascinating (aside from Chahi’s admissions of existential entanglement with the project, and a description of his own loneliness being reflected in the loneliness of Lester’s experiences – to the point where he gave the character red hair to dissociate the two of them) was that the game almost wasn’t anything like the elegant work of side-on sci-fi that we remember, because Virgin Games – Chahi’s first choice of publisher – almost persuaded him that it should be a point ‘n’ click adventure, because that is what was popular at the time. Chahi admitted that it was only his disinterest in redoing work that stopped it from disappearing down that parallel fate. A close call for all gaming kind. More on this, later.
Replaying Another World for Eurogamer, in the form of its 15th Anniversary Edition, I found myself asking questions. Mostly of myself. Do I like trial and error gaming? The question was tricky, because I generally don’t, but I was enjoying Another World a great deal. Apart from when I reached the point where it became all error, and quite a trial. Were you to read it, you’d encounter passages like:
When developers at Valve make a game, from the moment a single room has been crafted in their Hammer editor, they playtest it. Outsiders come in once a week, with no previous experience of the game, and play with whatever’s been created. The developers must watch without comment, and observe how the player encounters the game. This is not how Another World was developed. Released in 1991, Another World was the one-man project from Eric Chahi, a visually striking 2D platform game about a man transported to an alien world after a disaster with his particle acceleration experiment.