Taking Visual Storytelling to Another World

Taking Visual Storytelling to Another World

Another World nailed visual narrative, why aren't all other games in its wake following suit?

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Great article.
I loved Another World, and I'm glad to see that other's share in that love.
It captivated me as well with it's death cut-scenes, silent protagonist and companion, the amazing visuals (Remember falling through the skylight into the bath-house type place?), and the ambiguous story.

You could actually say it's more about a bunch of little, connected stories.

The arrival, the capture, the escape, the caves...every piece had it's own immediate problem, and immediate solution. Sure there was an over-arching sense of survival in a strange land, but it was broken down. You dealt with the 'now', not the inner monologues and soliloquies about 'how to get home' or 'I wonder what will happen' or 'I can't believe that thing that happened led me here'.

I gotta find that game again.
Once more: Great article.

I'll second that, Baby Tea. Great article that hits dead center of an important issue in games.

And Another World, well, I don't have the words to describe that game as it deserves. I still play it from time to time when I pack out my old Amiga 500. It's that good.

I especially like the relationship between the protagonist and his alien friend, wordless as it is. It's really an accomplishment that the game manages to do so much in terms of storytelling with so little. As far as I recall there are no words or text anywhere. It's impressive.

The feeling of getting thrown into that hostile alien world kinda reminds me of the first time I played Morrowind and exited the boat. It hit me like a punch to the gut that this was not the Tolkienesque fantasy world I knew so well. I had to start from scratch in an alien environment and learn the culture, geography, people and so forth. I felt truly alone and lost. It was awesome. And it made me want to explore the game and the history of the province like nothing I've tried before or since. I'm not comparing the two games directly, but I do think that Bethesda did really well when it comes to integrating visuals and game(play) in Morrowind.

Compare that to exiting the dungeon in Oblivion. There were no feelings of being lost or in a strange place. I knew from the word go how to navigate that world. I had seen it many time before in different versions. I didn't really care.

Very wierd, I had this exact conversation with a friend the other day when we were trying to think of great story telling games that wasnt just loads of badly done cardboard dialogue. Its follow-up Flashback was also awesome as well, but it was more level based and less free flowing than the Anotherworld (altho it was a LOT longer) we also got onto the fact that its practically criminal how this game has been overlooked and not copied to death (and while we are reminising my favourite part was running away from the flooding water in the tunnel) Seriously, forget Ico and Shadow of the collosus, this game is one of the strongest arguments that games can and should be considered alongside other art forms. If it was in black and white it would be the film noir of gaming!

Good article!

Yeah, I remember this game now, and I loved it back when I played it on my MacTV all those years ago.

Yes, this is definitely a style that needs to be brought back.

I remember distinctly playing the original PoP and the scene where you fought your evil twin. Every time you hit him, you took damage, but he also mimicked every action I took.

I remember how awesome it was when I thought to put my sword away and saw that he did the same, then I walked into him and we fused.

We badly need more games like this...

Ah, so he made Heart of Darkness aswell? It really reminded me of that game.

Cinematic plattformers are beyond awesome, narrative techniques included. I realized that a game from 91 still excites me more than playing modern games like Fallout 3 for example, just because the visual storytelling and artistic design is that much better. Really makes you wonder where game development is heading towards...

Abe's Oddysey and Abe's Exodus still are the benchmark for this genre while Flashback, Another World and Heart of Darkness are highly influential games that paved the way.

Ahh yes, Another World... One of my favorite Amiga games. Startet it several times even after completing it, it was just that captivating (not to mention that the graphics were very good for the time). Perhaps I should play it again soon.

P.S. Vary good article as well and a good point.

Out of This World was a hard-as-balls, infuriating, unforgiving game that would kill you if you so much as blinked funny. It must have taken me 65 tries to get past the part with the underground river, and at least half that many tries to survive the final running gun battle.

And I loved every last freaking second of it.

OoTW absolutely floored me. The landscape wss barren, bleak, and absolutely alien. Everything- from the giant shadowbeast to those lowly but oh-so-deadly slugs- wanted to kill me and had little trouble doing so if I wasn't careful. And then there were the natives of this strange place- huge, far stronger than my scrawny nuclear-physicist avatar, and armed with laser weapons that could turn anyone into a smoldering, blackened skeleton. It never for a second let me think that I could "win"- only survive, barely, struggling on. And without a single word being spoken, it told a story.

Did anyone else ever play the SegaCD version that had Heart of the Alien with it? Not quite as good as the original outing (it didn't have Eric Chahi's approval) but it was still enjoyable and brought closure to the story. And then there was that awesome music....

Oh yeah, this game was awesome, just as another game from this genius developer called 'Future Wars'. Did you know he has a site where you can read al about how the game was created and you can download a updated version for pc. http://www.anotherworld.fr/anotherworld_uk/another_world.htm

Fantastic read.

I do think the game's influence managed to spread a bit more than you give credit. Ueda, the Ico and SOTC Creative Director, lists it as his main inspiration for his narrative style. World of Goo, Glumbuster, and a lot of the other indie titles seem to be picking up on it because it's easier but also relatively unexplored in AAA games.

It's funny, with all the awful dialogue and bad voice acting in games, you'd think it would've occurred to more developers to just shut their characters up.

"Cinematic platformers" eh? Interesting, hadn't heard of that genre designation before. Would Blackthorne be a cinematic platformer?

Good article.

Have to say Another World is a blast from the past, haven't they remastered it or something?). One of the games I remember watching my Dad play while I was getting stuck into Bluebyte's Historyline and some of the old Microprose games.

Probably worth revisiting it after I've finished my current Lucasarts point & click revival (only got to finish the dig now)

Clemenstation:
"Cinematic platformers" eh? Interesting, hadn't heard of that genre designation before. Would Blackthorne be a cinematic platformer?

Blackthrorne would qualify as being that kind of platformer.

Firenz:
haven't they remastered it or something?

That's actually the version I've been playing, the remastered edition. I had to order it from England though because it's no longer available to DL from the site Chahi set up for the 2007 release of the edition. It only cost $11, $20 with shipping. It's a great special edition as it has PDF's of his original production design documents, a making-of feature, and the scanned tech documents he wrote to create the game's engine. Also the difficulty has been reworked with many more checkpoints, which really help bring the game into the modern era.

In terms of the remaster itself, both it and the original game have their merits. He hand drew the backgrounds for the remaster so it's still very much the work of a single man, but I've also replayed through portions in the original 16 color pixel art, and that also has its charms. If anything I would say the remaster reminds me a lot of the game And Yet It Moves in terms of the way it looks.

For me the best thing about Another World is that it always shows you what to do in game terms and never tells you. Valve aspire to this sort of thing but don't do it half as well as this game despite all their scientific measurement of the player experience. ICO copied this the best but I think you can see the influence even in earlier more mainstream games like Tomb Raider.

It has not tutorial, no mission briefings, no exposition dialog, no pictures of buttons to press at a certain time. Just lots of things things showing you what is happening and showing you what happens when you fail. All the developers who say that modern games with good narratives should not have player death should be forced to play this game until they admit they are wrong.

What I think developers need to do is spend a little more time studying the classic games to find out why people liked them so much, not just elements of the games that people liked.

I gave up on playing Another World because of its crushing difficulty, but it really is an impressively cinematic experience. Really the next step up from Mechner's original Prince of Persia in terms of the animations and everything.

I'll have to try it again.

 

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