Review by fuzzyhobbit
Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99
A strange sci-fi cinematic adventure--port of the computer game and it's sequel.
Once again I find myself reviewing an obscure classic for the unfortunately unsuccessful Sega CD(sales-wise, not game-wise). This game is a port of the computer game Out of this World and it's sequel Heart of the Alien. The original Out of this World can also be found on Genesis and SNES, but here on Sega CD you can experience it in it's full glory. The game is from a famous company whose name I forget because they constantly change it--their last game was the short but superb Heart of Darkness for the Playstation. Even though this disk features two games, they were made together and the sequel Heart of the Alien is more of an add-on displaying the original's story from the perspective of the Alien who helps Out of this World's main character through the original. This is why I am treating them as one game and not two. Each game itself can be rated a 9, together as an unveiling of the complete story it is definintely a perfect 10.
Out of this World begins with a cinema(real time, like the rest of the game) revealing how you are a scientist and that one night during a lightning storm your invention went haywire and opened a chasm in the ground that you fall through. What follows is the actual game is short training-like board where a player learns the controls and gets used to the strange feel of the game(more on this in Graphics)--and even though it is something like a training board you can easily die. When this level ends you are captured by scary black beast. When the character awakes(as usual it is quite cinematic) he finds himself sharing a cage with a large ogre like Alien in a cage hanging from the ceiling. From here you and the Alien escape the cage and help each other escape your captors. Heart of the Alien begins more abruptly. There is a cinema showing the Alien's normal life and then being captured. There is another training-like board, but this one is quite long and in the end he is captured again--the Alien finds himself in a cage with a strange creature we know to be a human and the main character of Out of this World. What's nice about the games' storylines is that it isn't about this race of Aliens taking over the Earth--it's just about the two main character's escaping. This simplicity and focus makes the game better. One thing to mention is that even though Heart of the Alien shows the original game from the Aliens perspective(seeing the parts where the two characters are separated from his eyes) it takes the story somewhat farther to the shocking conclusion. This game has an incredible story delivered quite cinematically and should be experienced.
Usually I have two separate sections for Graphics and another for Art, Style and Presentation. For this game you can not separate the two. To start off I must explain the game's graphic engine very carefully. This game's graphic engine consists of Polygons running at something like 30 frames per second--yet the game is two dimensional. You see, these Polygons are untextured and without lighting effects of any kind(such lighting type effects are done with different colored polys, not light sourcing or such). Due to the use of Polygons everyone is animated extremely well and extremely realistically. It's like an untextured Tomb Raider where the view is locked in such way that the game is a side scroller, even though the game consists of Polygons. There is a tiny bit of three dimensional use though--parts where you walk off one screen and later return through a different route that places you in the background. There are also parts where enemies are shooting at you from the background so that the laser blasts are heading straight at the screen in a truly three dimensional manner. What you must understand and what I haven't explained yet is how this choice of a polygon engine makes the game incredibly artistic and cinematic. The entire game has this unique, simple art style that give them game a strangeness and surrealness--which fits considering you are a stranger in a strange land. And as I mentioned earlier these graphics allow the characters to be so incredibly animated and fluid. You must see it to truly believe it.
This game plays in such a way like others of this cinematic type. This gameplay is in the style of the side-scrolling adventure game such as Abe's Oddysey, the fore-mentioned Heart of Darkness and Flashback(which I've also reviewed for Sega CD). All of these adventures are derived from a single game--Prince of Persia. If you know about this game or the other games listed(I am sure many of you have play either of the Abe games) you know how this game plays. For those who don't I will give you a quick run down. You walk, you jump, you crouch, you roll, you pick up items, you pull switches, you jump and grab on to ledges and you kneel and climb down ledges--these many actions gives the side-scrolling adventure game it's wonderful feel. One of the things you must know about these games, and is true with Out of this World, is that the controls are difficult and precise because the character's movement and animation is very complex and precise. In this game you can screw up a crouch or jump because your timing is slightly off and you tried to perform these commands during the wrong animation of a previous command--annoying yes, but this complexity is one of the charms of side-scrolling adventures. Now I shall mention the tools of the two player controlled characters. The human player character of Out of this World uses a ray gun that he wacks enemies with, shoots enemies with, and charges up to create a force field. The alien player character of Heart of the Alien uses an energized whip that he whips enemies with, shoots enemies with, and charges up to create a force field. They are both kind of similar, except the Alien's whip is more fluid and versatile as a melee weapon than simply slapping people with a laser pistol. Sure the gameplay sounds a bit simple, but it is like this for all side-scrolling adventure games--what makes Out of this World good(all the other games I mentioned above) is the unique situations you find yourself in and the wonderful puzzles to solve(including things like trying to get past these obstacles and enemies). Like I've said in other reviews--trust me, this game is wonderful. And, by the way, the only reason I give the gameplay a 9 and not a 10 is that the boards are kind of repetitive--but this is my only gripe.
Music and Sound--9
First I'd like to mention that the game had quality sound effects that were quite dynamic and of the ambient variety. Sure there were sound effects for the weapons, foot steps, enemies' roars and such, but there also exquisite effects for the environment--birds, falling rocks, the wind and anything else that may occur. It is simple, but quality stuff. Now the music for this game mirrors the sound effects in that it is simple very compelling. The background music rarely uses more than an instrument of two, but the songs are composed quite skillfully and absorbingly. What makes the BGM really good is that it is completely interactive. What this means is that when an enemy begins chasing you the music will change to a "chase" song and when you discover something quite fantastical it will play a tune of discovery(kind of like Tomb Raider which is essentially a side-scroller adventure that is third person--a next generation Prince of Persia). This is a really nice touch and those who've experienced such kinds of BGM know what I am talking about. One last word on the BGM--the game is also good for it's non-use of BGM with the occasional sections of unnerving silence.
This is classic many gamers will definitely enjoy, especially those who want to play the predecessors of the side-scrolling adventure genre. I have to recommend it to anybody. If you can't find this game, like many Sega CD titles, look for the original computer versions or perhaps the Genesis or SNES versions--they're not as good, but if you have no choice then you have no choice. Happy hunting!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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