Depriving the player of sight is rarely explored in videogames. For good reason. To do so is to walk a gameplay tightrope of risk. How to present such a situation in a fun and engaging way is really the ultimate puzzle for the developer. Sadly, Another Sight doesn’t quite manage this balancing act of engagement quite as well as say, Stifled.
Another Sight has plenty of ideas up its sleeve. So much so in fact, that it is clear Lunar Great Wall Studios had plenty more in mind. Until eventually, to make Another Sight a reality, their ambitions had to be cut down to size, befitting of an indie studio bringing their game to market. Creativity in world design is Another Sight’s number one redeeming factor, thanks in no small part to how well the Unreal Engine works with this kind of game. Yet, after the whittling down of ambitious ideas, not much else is in this game to engage the average player from start to finish.
For the most part, Another Sight’s story is like a confusing hybrid of Alice In Wonderland and Journey To The Centre of The Earth. The “girl-falls-down-a-hole-into-a-new-world” has always been a delicious prospect for those in search of adventure. It opens up plenty of possibilities when established reality is thrown out the window, ready to be made anew.
This is the case with Another Sight as Kit’s world is soon replaced with an underground steampunk / garden of technological wonders. While searching for her father, Kit discovers this world – perhaps too conveniently – by falling down a hole. Relatively unscathed, she scrambles to her feet to be greeted by our game equivalent of the Cheshire Cat. Later we learn its name is Hodge who will pay a big role in how we progress.
Working with her new feline companion, Kit presses ever onward beneath a late 1900’s London. Interestingly, she can only see clearly when there is a corresponding sound in the environment. As the two push ever forward and deeper underground, they eventually discover famous figures. These could be prominent scientists or artists that the developers are confident you will be aware of. After so long, bumping into one famous figure after another begins to feel a little cliche. But why are they down here? They are all in search of something called the node, a source of magical and untapped energy.
Aside from these encounters and the ongoing mystery surrounding Kit’s father, Another Sight’s story presents itself rather confusingly. Again, we have a case of the developers perhaps having too many grand ideas for the good of the overall game. A sense of bloating begins to sink in the further we push on. Ultimately, players will have to be prepared to pay very close attention to each aspect of what Another Sight is trying to tell you. A lot of deciphering lies in wait with this game’s unfortunately ambiguous script writing.
2.5D has done a pretty good job finding a home in the puzzle genre. It is no doubt the reason Lunar Great Wall opted for this style. If two games were to be picked that closely resemble what Another Sight is trying to do, it would be Inside and New ‘N Tasty. What Another Sight brings to the table that is new however, is Kit’s lack of vision.
Totally dependant on sound to light up her surroundings (including the occasional meow), Kit is dependant on sound/light based mechanics to press onward. A simple example would be seeing the other side of a gap in order to make the jump. This is where the duality of mechanics between Kit and Hodge comes into play. At any time, the player can assume control of either Hodge or Kit.
While Kit is deprived of vision, she is consigned to a very slow walk. This is fair enough as I wouldn’t like to run about underground blind for fear of smashing into something. But that’s real life. This is a game. Moving Kit from A to B quickly became a slog and the game began to morph from an entertainment product to an obligatory chore. A simple tweak to movement mechanics would have fixed this. Instead, I find myself pushing a large crate to solve a puzzle agonisingly slowly. Once the puzzle was solved, I determined that the crate needed to be pushed back to its original position. A task that felt needless and one that I certainly did not appreciate. I found myself idly holding the stick one way or the other and staring at the ceiling until the scraping sound stopped.
Hodge’s movement mechanics however are a little more nippy. This feline will be used by the player to access places Kit can’t get to. The game informs us we can make use of “cat acrobatics”. A criminal waste of an opportunity to go with “catrobatics”. The nature of game means Hodge is essentially going left, right or up. Here’s where the platforming comes into play. However, even running about as the customisable cat (I went for the rainbow coloured Nyan cat) brought some negatives to the surface. Primarily, the cat’s nippy movement contrasted with the insistently slow Kit was…loud. One minute the game would rev up as the cat, offering an engaging jump-a-thon to solve puzzles. The next, it was back to the glacial drip of Kat’s slow movements.
But Another Sight isn’t solely focused on movement. It has more to offer in its puzzles. A game which, in its entirety, offers a bumpy puzzling ride. When starting out, any gamer who has enjoyed the medium for anything more than say, three years, will breeze through Another Sight’s puzzles. This breezing-through phase just misses outstaying its welcome by the skin of its teeth. Just as things are starting to feel too “by the numbers”, a little variation comes into play and we’ll have new mechanics to wrap our brains around. These could involve moving puzzle items to generate enough sound to light the solution. Alternatively, Hodge can scare rats away to move certain items or clear the way for Kit.
Things finally start to feel a little fresher for the braniac gamer in search of a challenge. However, this freshness ends up at risk of dying off after a while, as puzzles revert back to their original “by the numbers” state. Running through the motions however will reward the player with some pretty decent eye candy.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The one most redeeming feature of Another Sight is its world. One minute we find ourselves in a dank and dingy sewer. The next, a beautiful subterranean garden. We may even find our way to alternate dimensions with floating clock parts (Wonderland again) or artsy representations of France. Barely any of it makes sense since we’re supposed to be underneath London. But, on the plus side, it’s all built wonderfully. A shame then, that we only really get to see it as Hodge. Kit’s blindness is an unfortunate side effect of puzzle solutions so there’s no getting away from from it. This means Another Sight becomes a victim of its own ambitions, throwing a portion of the developer’s hard work down the well. It would be great to soak in all this splendour, if only Kit could see it too.
The soundscapes of Another Sight sadly also leave a little to be desired. While ambient environmental sound is just fine, so too is the music (what little of it there is). Finally, voice acting in Another Sight sticks out like a sore thumb. Alas we have another game where a period story with an English character at the centre of it is painfully cliche. Extra posh, combined with wooden voice acting leads Another Sight down the cheesy route. Doubtless an avenue for a guilty pleasure title for some. However, to a British gamer like myself, it’s just another cringey stereotypical performance of an English person. We don’t all sound like that y’know.