As I’ve gotten older, I’ve reached a point of acceptance when it comes to my bad memory, especially as it pertains to media. My short attention span combined with my inability to retain much has distorted my ability to recall hundreds of movies in my lifetime, to the point that I may not remember watching them at all. Games are good in this respect because you’re more likely to remember that direct interaction; the trial and error of repeating a difficult section over and over.
Another World, no pun intended, lives and dies off of that repetition, made even more obvious when revisiting it 25 years later. Though my memory had retained a fondness for the art design and the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally beat it, my mind filled in a lot of the blanks that I neglected, remembering it as an epic adventure that lasted hours and hours. The reality is that Another World is remarkably thin.
That’s not exactly a bad thing. Once you know what you’re doing, the game can be beaten in roughly an hour, after which you’re left to ask yourself what exactly happened in the story, since there isn’t a single word of dialogue to go off of. The entire story is told through shapes and movements, like a silent film or a play. It explains nearly nothing, further enhancing that feeling of a hostile alien world. Anything remotely familiar would dull that feeling, narrowing the possibilities giving your own imagination a smaller palette to fill those blanks with. To this day, Eric Chahi refuses to elaborate on any of the plot or themes within, feeling it would ruin the magic.
By all accounts, he’s correct, since that ambiguity was at the core of Another World’s influence, showing the potential of storytelling in the medium and new ways to convey emotion. Unfortunately, it was also an example of how executive meddling could ruin that vision, as Interplay’s constant need to tweak and changes aspects of the game led to several misguided ports and a terrible sequel called Heart of the Alien.
We don’t talk about Heart of the Alien.