Another Sight – Nintendo Switch
Developed By : Lunar Great Wall Studios
Published By : Toplitz Productions
Category : Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle
Release Date : June 28, 2019
Reviewed by: Shaun Hughes
The premise of Another Sight – the first in what promises to be a long line of games developed by Lunar Great Wall Studios – was one I was keen to explore. It is rare that a development team look to broach a subject as sensitive as the loss of sight, and I was intrigued to see how they utilised the skills of their experienced team to offer a video game experience befitting of the storyline.
London Underground, London Underground…
Billed as a surreal fantasy adventure that blends puzzle elements with platforming, Another Sight tells the tale of Kit and a Hodge. Kit is a young teenage girl, and Hodge a ginger cat. After a chance meeting in the construction site of the London Underground in 1899, they embark on an adventure that requires both their skills and abilities to overcome the challenges they face.
From the opening scenes of this Toplitz Production published title, it was apparent that this story would be one of mystery. There is little suggestion as to how or why the duo came to be, or just what had happened to Kit – short of the tunnel she was traversing collapsing from under her. During this time, I also felt I got a glimpse into the depth and breadth of Another Sight, and my initial feelings were both disappointment and intrigue. Kit’s loss of sight was not as profound or thought-provoking as I had hoped, with the protagonist seemingly not too concerned about proceedings. As a result, my mindset shifted more towards the ‘fantasy’ elements of the title than the ‘deeply moving’ – for the time being anyway.
Darkness and neon lighting
Once left to your own devices, you journey through a variety of scenes from the Victorian Era of London controlling both Kit and Hodge. By tapping R, you switch instantaneously between the two characters, with each offering a different view of the landscape. Hodge sees the world in its literal form, complete with all the sights and sounds expected of the location and the time in which it was set. Kit, on the other hand, provides a largely different experience whereby darkness surrounds her and neon lighting emanates off both herself and some key objects.
With a lack of confidence and unfamiliar surroundings, Kit is limited to walking cautiously across the linear landscapes. In stark contrast, Hodge the cat bounds around the place, jumping from platforms and running up walls. Wherever Hodge goes, it leaves a luminous trail on Kit’s version of events which then allows her to run for a short period of time. It is a fantastic concept and one that became second nature very early on in the adventure. That is not the only interaction that the two have though, as Kit can reach places that Hodge can’t and vice versa. It has the makings of a wonderful partnership, and equal importance is placed on both characters and their individual journeys.
It truly is a fascinating concept, and one that I would have liked to have seen developed further to make full use of the creativity involved in its inception. I often found that the puzzles requiring the use of both characters skills were never too challenging, and the linearity of the environments meant that the solution was never too far away. Similarly, the simplicity of the characters available actions ensured that there were only so many possibilities: both Kit and Hodge can walk, run, jump, climb, call out to one another, and interact with objects. This allowed for additional layers to the scenes which were used to great effect, but it felt as though the ingenuity of the environments was limited.
Brimming with personality and unanswered questions…
Having set its stall out early as a video game focussed on sight, or a lack of, I felt it was essential that this title delivered both visually and auditorily. Another Sight is somewhat of a mixed bag in this department, with it once again highlighting how design and delivery need to be aligned for the true potential of a title to be realised.
It is clear that there has been a strong emphasis on environment design here, with the locations you visit both brimming with personality and unanswered questions. What doesn’t hold up as well are the graphics – particularly in handheld. They are good without every being great, and Another Sight had the potential to be a breathtaking visual spectacle. Coupled with this are some poor character animations which occasionally broke the immersion I experienced. The way that both Kit and Hodge amble around is uncharacteristically lacking in detail, particularly for a game focussed on platforming. I did particularly like the cutscenes themselves, as they were a fantastic example of artistry and craftsmanship.
It gives me great pleasure to report that the audio elements of Another Sight fare much better. The attention to detail is commendable, and really highlights just how powerful well-placed audio can be. Each of the environments had sounds and music commonly associated with them, and brought them to life. Both the audio and visuals had the potential to develop the level of immersion, however they never quite delivered as well as I had hoped As well as this, there were occasions where I had to shut down the game and start again as one of the characters had become stuck or a cutscene hadn’t loaded, and this was unfortunately to the detriment of the immersion too.
Another Sight is an unusual game with an unusual story to tell, and it does so without ever being too unusual. This is rather unfortunate, particularly as we now live in a world where new games are being released almost daily and it pays to stand out from the crowd. Another Sight had the potential to do just that, but linear environments, simplistic puzzles and poor characterisation meant that all the early promise was squandered. There is still some enjoyment to be had, but its shortcomings do take their toll.
*Although not an essential part of the critique for everyone, I still felt it was important to note the price of this ‘super-indie’ release, retailing at $39.99. I felt this was considerably high for this title, and something to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.