Certain stories always seem to crop up as inspiring different movies or video games. Journey to the West has spawned everything from anime shows to 3D action-adventure games. The Lord of the Rings has been adapted so many times that people can barely recognise it any more, and Lovecraft is probably turning over in his massively racist grave from the amount of crap that his body of work has been put through. Alice in Wonderland is another one of those pieces of classic literature that can’t seem to escape being turned into video games, and on that note, we begin our dive into Another Sight.
Another Sight is a 2.5D puzzle platformer and the first game developed by Lunar Great Wall Studios, a self-styled ‘super-indie’ game studio based in Milan, Italy. Another Sight was also published by a company called Fish Eagle who have a couple of other titles under their belt, one a football game called Lords of Football from 2013 and the other a strategic sailing game called Nantucket.
Another Sight puts you into the boots of Kit, or Catherine if you wanna be all formal about it. You find yourself in a mysterious world after falling through a hole in the ground, and since the fall made you mostly blind (somehow), you have to get by with the help of your mysterious cat friend. Your journey will take you through many strange places and bring you face-to-face with a cavalcade of important historical figures, from famous painters to Russian occultists (and no, not the one everyone immediately thinks of thanks to Boney M.).
Another Sight is a 2.5D game, basically meaning that while it is rendered in full 3D, all of the gameplay takes place on a single plane, or at least most of the action does. The most similar examples that spring to mind are games like Klonoa and Pandemonium on the PS1, both of which have a similar way of rendering their 3D world while keeping all of the action on a single mostly static plane. You do occasionally swap planes, but this isn’t typically done voluntarily, instead your character will come towards or away from the screen on their own depending on where they need to be to progress.
The jumping controls in Another Sight are 50/50, and we mean that quite literally. You control the two characters separately, one being main character Kit and the other the cat called Hodge. Because Kit is blind, she can only ‘see’ things when they make noise, so part of Hodge’s job is to run around making noise to light the way for Kit. When controlling Hodge, you can run around, jump, scramble up ledges and climb up certain types of surface. With Kit you move quite slowly, especially when you can’t see where you’re going properly, and you can’t jump unless you can see where you’re going to land. Most of her gameplay is relegated to pulling switches and moving boxes in the standard ‘puzzle-platformer’ style.
The problem with the controls is that they have a horrible tendency to get you killed. When playing as Kit, everything feels very heavy and slow-paced, oven making deaths quite frustrating. You cannot jump very far, and many of the jumps require both very precise jump timing and, in some cases, a decent run up. With Hodge your jump range is increased quite dramatically, but you have a very small amount of control over your jump once you’re in the air. Because of this, it’s actually the smaller, more precise jumps that are harder to manage. There were several occasions where we had to redo the same segment of gameplay for the fifth or sixth time because Hodge had just jumped too far and plummeted to his death.
Death in Another Sight is also a mixed bag. There are no lives or continues, thank god, and you do respawn pretty damn quickly, a trap many modern games on PC have been known to fall into. However, while you may reload quickly and you don’t have to worry about getting a game over, you can end up getting caught in a cycle where you keep dying to the same annoying segment. Part of the problem is that you trigger checkpoints as a pair, meaning that locations where both characters are is saved when a checkpoint happens. Your progress, however, is made separately since you have to control each character independently, and there is no AI taking over while you control the other character. This means that if you make it through a tricky section with one character and then die on a trivial segment with the other, you have to redo both (in most cases).
The story of the game is mostly interesting, although it’s nothing that we’ve not seen before. There are a lot of allusions to Alice in Wonderland, not the least of which is the moment when the main character literally says, ‘I feel like Alice in Wonderland’. You start your journey by falling down a hole and end up interacting with a whole bunch of strange characters with questionable motivations, albeit this time they’re wearing the fleshy skin suits of famous historical figures. These different historical figures are a nice touch, and the strange world they inhabit does lend itself to the style of the story, but it does somewhat feel like a parade of your local hipster’s favourite people.
A lot of the puzzles are pretty simple but are made much more challenging by the fact that the main character in charge of puzzle solving can’t see squat. Often times the best way of solving a puzzle is to have Hodge stand nearby so you can constantly switch between the two so you can actually see what you’re doing, which is less than ideal. This constant switching between the two characters is something of a theme in the game, especially since you end up having to run forward as Hodge to light the way for Kit if you don’t want to have to bloody walk everywhere.
While it might sound like there is a lot of complaining going on, and there is, that doesn’t mean that the game is bad. Far from it, the storyline, characters and art style are quite endearing. You do start to enjoy figuring things out with Kit, even if you want to push her into a lake or get her a noise maker so she can bloody see a bit more easily. The game is really in its element when you’re running around solving puzzles, only slowing down when you come up against a tough platforming segment you need to clunk your way through.
Graphically, Another Sight isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s certainly pretty enough. At the end of the day, the actually quality of the graphics matter very little, but it is important that everything fits together without looking out of place. Luckily, Another Sight manages to keep everything pretty consistent between levels. At first you’re exploring the murky underbelly of the London underground, but soon you move onto other more interesting places, like the vibrant underground garden of Claude Monet and the definitely real super lab of Nikola Tesla. Across all of these places, none of the assets feel like they were bought from a storefront, and even if they were, they’ve clearly been implemented well enough that no one will notice anyway.
Developer: Lunar Great Wall Studios
Publisher: Fish Eagle
Platforms: PC/PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 6th September 2018