Genre: Action Developer: Delphine Software Publisher: Virgin Games Players: 1 Released: 1991
Out of this World is probably one of those games that appealed to many players while it simultaneously irritated many of the same. Few games have ever been so involving and frustrating at the same time, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Out of this World was originally released by the French Delphine Software as Another World; however, to avoid possible confusion with the unrelated American soap opera aired by NBC of the same name, the American title was changed to Out of this World. (To add to the obscurity of title changes the game was released in Japan as Outer World, for reasons I do not know).
Out of this World is a famous puzzle-platform game that manages to keep the player’s attention right from the beginning, and the tension created in the opening sequence still holds strong today. The protagonist of the game, Lester Knight Chaykin, arrives at his laboratory. This young, red-haired physicist continues his experiment of using a particle accelerator in his high-tech laboratory even during a thunderstorm. It turns out this isn’t a very bright idea, since lightening strikes the lab and interferes with the experiment, causing Lester’s teleportation to a barren alien planet. He is out of this world (or in another world if you please) from which he has to try to escape together with his imprisoned alien pal that he meets in the second stage of the game.
The style and graphics of Out of this World have become particularly famous due to the use of polygons and cinematic cut scenes which was quite extraordinary for the time. To be honest, I can’t say I am too impressed with the graphical conversion for the Genesis. Compared to the Amiga, DOS, and even Super Nintendo counterparts; the characters have become rather small, pale, and quite pixelated (the most impressive versions of the game are the later-released Windows and 3DO editions). Also, there is persistent slowdown when there’s too much action on screen. I’m quite sure that if the game would have been released later than 1991, at the time when developers discovered the broader technical possibilities of the Genesis, it would have been possible to sharpen the graphics and diminish the occurring slowdown; however, if one keeps in mind this game was released in 1991, it looks quite impressive (just try and compare it to other Genesis titles of that year). There isn’t really much to say about the sound, since there isn’t that much. But overall the sound effects and the few tunes are placed in a manner that attributes to the game’s atmosphere of tension in an excellent way.
Now comes the hard part. How can I explain to younger, non-retro gamers this is actually a very good game? They will probably laugh in my face when I admit Lester will die with almost every step he takes on the alien planet. The game is filled with unexpected and expected deaths, cheap deaths, near-on impossible jumps, and the control is also a bit loose. There are various puzzles which require different actions, and if you just screw one of those actions up it will lead to another death. The gameplay is largely based on trial and error, but the puzzles also require some logical thinking. If you found out what to do, you’ll probably have to practice Lester’s actions to perfection or else the change of failure is still very, very big. This means that even with a walkthrough you’ll not complete Out of this World within minutes if you play it for the first time.
No, this is a game that needs care, precision, carefulness, and mainly patience. The only way to master it is practice. That means repeating the same task over and over again until you can almost do it with your eyes closed. If you have the patience for that, you’ll finally know the entire game by heart, and just then it is possible to complete the game within half an hour. Seldom have I returned so often to a game which I quit so many times yelling of frustration of and which made me abuse the joy pad as a throwing device at my television screen multiple times (luckily they’re saving points by mean of passwords, which are at a relatively fair range from one another). But after all, I can say that completing Out of this World must have been one of the finest and most delightful moments of my gaming life up to now.
If you like Out of this World you can try a bunch of other action-animated platformers with puzzle elements, like the unofficial “sequels” Flashback and the Sega CD-only Heart of the Alien, or Blackthorne (32X). In my opinion though, none of these games has managed to recreate the same captivating experience as one gets with Out of this World, but then again, Out of this World was released before all those games, and an original idea is usually best pulled off in the initial concept. Due to the focus on animation the game also somehow resembles Prince of Persia, except for the control which is even looser in that game, and in my opinion Out of this World also surpasses it in regard to atmosphere.
This port may not be the best version of Out of this World. Nevertheless, the game still is deeply involving – though the impatient player will not get the true quality out of it. Try to gain some patience, and give it a try, and you’ll go through a unique and intriguing gaming experience, even compared to many of today’s video games.
SCORE: 8 out of 10