Friday, May 8, 2009

3DO Look: Out of this World

Developed by Delphine Software and published by Interplay, Out of This World is considered one of those games that everyone should play at least once. Almost eighteen years after its original release I have just now gotten around to playing it. It's definitely interesting if not exactly my kind of game.

Lester is a genius physicist and during a stormy night he's experimenting with a particle accelerator. Unfortunately a freak bolt of lightning interferes and he's transported to a barren alien planet. After evading a very large beast he makes contact with the locals who shoot him and lock him in a cage. There he makes a friend and also his escape.

I don't usually talk about this stuff but Out of this World is a great-looking game. Everything is composed of flat-shaded polygons that give the game a very distinct look while at the same time providing some very impressive animation for the main character as well as the rest of the cast. The lack of detail actually gives the cast more personality as they adopt various mannerisms and bits of body language to help convey the storyline. For fans of the artistic side of gaming this is a must-play.

The game takes place on a 2D plane and resembles games like Prince of Persia(the original), Flashback, and so on. Lester can run, jump, and perform a rather lame kick(which you won't be seeing much of past the first level). Lester is also capable of a number of context-sensitive moves (like pulling levers) when the need arises. Though the game is fair with its mechanics you'll find that Lester is the fragile sort as practically anything will kill him in one hit. His transport into another world also hasn't given him any of those videogame reflexes either. There's a slight delay in many commands due to Lester taking the time to prep for his next move(so when making a jump off a cliff you'll want to consider jumping just before the edge). By the second stage Lester will find a gun with three levels of power. Regular shots are good for taking out alien soldiers while shields are necessary for all battles, and a fully-charged shot is required for taking down walls and enemy shields. Again like his other actions Lester isn't exactly quick on the draw and he has to fire a shot before he can charge his weapon(which is quite annoying).

The fourteen stages you play through are very brief as most of them can be completed in less than a couple minutes. The challenge however is in solving the puzzles, escaping the many traps, and dealing with the natives without so much as getting scratched. Unfortunately the game relies on some trial and error aspects. There are situations that are not always obvious and if you don't know natives are coming as soon as you reach a particular area you'll get blasted. One example is a particular stage where if you go to the next screen you're killed instantly. The trick to getting around this is in the first screen where you have to go back a short distance and walk onto an alternate pathway. It's not clearly marked nor does your native friend reference it so it's kind of frustrating to make these discoveries. Thankfully the combination of very short stages and unlimited lives(as well as passwords) serves as assurance that you'll eventually see the end. 

Probably the most unfortunate aspect of this game is the lack of depth. Once you figure out the solutions and can handle the fire-fights without getting killed all that's left is to be able to beat the game without a single death. Though this potentially could be a difficult feat there's not much else beyond that. Then again I guess none of this really matters for Out of This World. It relies on the elements that do not make it a game to give it it's strengths. In the end it's not really my kind of game but for some I imagine they'd prefer this over the games I tend to play.

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