Out Of This World
First posted on 30 March 2008. Last updated on 10 August 2009.
Out Of This World was a game originally released by French developer Delphine Software under the name Another World. The title was changed to avoid confusion with an unrelated American television soap opera that bore the same name. Originally developed for the PC, the game was also widely ported to multiple other platforms. The original version of Out Of This World was released for DOS in 1991, and a graphically enhanced version was released for Windows in 1994. In 2006, to celebrate the game's 15th anniversary, a remake of the game was released and was known as the 15th Anniversary Edition or Collector's Edition.
Much like Prince of Persia, Out Of This World is a game that sets the standards for action adventure games of that era. At its core, it is a 2D platform game. However, the game incorporates a lot more puzzle elements than other platformers and focuses heavily on creating an atmospheric visual. These differences set the game apart from other competitors and revolutionize the use of vector graphics and cinematic sequences in video games. The game's intriguing story and unique style has made Out Of This World a cult classic among gamers, a status only equaled by its unofficial but spiritual sequel Flashback.
In Out Of This World, you assume the role of the young red-haired professor Lester Knight Chaykin. The story starts with Lester arriving at his high-tech laboratory. Despite being in mid of a thunderstorm, Lester decides to continue his experiment with the particle accelerator. This turns out not be too good of an idea! Lightning strikes the laboratory and interferes with the experiment, causing Lester to be teleported to a barren alien planet. Suddenly, Lester has found himself completely out of this world (or, rather, in another world), from which he must try to escape with the help of an imprisoned alien with whom he befriends in the new world.
The trial and error gameplay dominant in Out Of This World makes it a little hard to get into this game. The alien planet is filled with unexpected traps, cheap deaths, and near impossible jumps. Many puzzles in the game require complex sets of actions, in which a single misstep can lead to instant death. The game requires a lot of care, precision, and mainly patience, from the player. Patience is required because the player will need to practice all the moves ahead so that they can be performed entirely uninterrupted to solve the puzzle. The impatient gamer will surely and quickly be turned away from this game. Patient gamers, on the other hand, will find this game to be a very rewarding experience. This is, in part, due to the involving ambience which the game manages to create. The cinematic cut scenes that are so beautifully rendered in this game conjure up a mood or tension that quickly envelops the player into the alien world. The game is saved automatically at each checkpoint that is locked by a pass code. The checkpoints are at a reasonable distance from each other but are far enough to limit the frustration of restarting the game after dying. The player needs not to worry about lives, though, because they come unlimited. Lester can only wield 1 weapon—a gun which he finds later in the game. With it, he can shoot enemies, blast through to destroy walls, or summon a small shield against enemy gunfire. However, the gun will get drained if it is overused and there are only a few recharging stations in the entire game.
The graphics, especially in the enhanced version, have aged reasonably well and are reminiscent of the graphics in Alone in the Dark. Out Of This World is the first game to employ polygons for all of its graphics, as opposed to sprites that are more common in games of that era. The use of vector graphics creates a distinctive visual style for this game. Audio is limited, but the few musical tunes and sound effects are well placed in the game to contribute an atmosphere of tension. Because very precise control is needed, the game is well suited for playing with the keyboard that is, in my opinion, even better than a joypad.
Out Of This World is released at a time when a single individual can still be mostly responsible for the entire development of a game. Eric Chahi, the creator, has been revered over the years by his fans to the likes of Roberta Williams (of King's Quest fame) and Ron Gilbert (of Monkey Island fame). To this date, Chahi still actively supports the game, after having reacquired its rights back from Delphine Software. His fame is rightly earned. Even now, the game still feels special and has lost nothing of its involving tension.
Undoubtedly, you will die many times in this game before you will figure out what to do, and you will die some more trying to figure you how to do it. Yet, when you finally solve the game, the experience is very satisfying. Despite being a very difficult game, the game is not very long. It will take quite some time to finish it on the first run, but once you figure it all out, it is possible to finish the game from start to end within half an hour. In other words, the game is just long enough to make it fun to replay it once in a while.
Out Of This World is among most praised PC games out of the DOS era. Rightly so, it is a landmark game in the action adventure subgenre. The game has reached past its cult status and has become a timeless classic. Beyond Flashback, the game has also spawned an official sequel (but only for the Sega Mega-CD console) titled Heart of the Alien, in which the player assumes the role of the alien from Out Of This World. Sadly, Chahi is not involved in the making of this sequel. As with most adventure games of the past, you will need to a little patience to get into this game. Once you do, however, Out Of This World is a very rewarding and intriguing gaming experience.