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A cat and his girl: Another Sight review

Another Sight, a Neil Gaiman inspired adventure developed by Lunar Great Wall Studios, sees you padding about an industrial underworld as a lost young woman with the world’s most severe case of synesthesia. Teaming up with a sharp stray cat, Kit has to navigate a mysterious network of tunnels and hazards to figure out what the hell is going on in these sewers and get back home.

There aren’t enough games made with this approach. So much effort has been put into crafting the way it looks and sounds, and, wearing some prestigious inspirations on a tattered sleeve, Another Sight is quick to build expectations. It doesn’t make any outrageous promises or strive to be the new big indie darling, rather aiming for the understated approach that befits the surreal, mildly odd experience it is. Without a shout or a boast, the game slowly submerges you in a realm of red-eyed rats, hissing steam, and pounding pistons, letting curiosity naturally take hold as you meander down a particularly hazardous rabbit hole.

The graphics are gorgeous. There’s definitely a bit of an American McGee feel to some of the ominous industrial backdrops, but with a much more hopeful colour palette.

Kit’s sound vision is central to the game. She can only see as far as there is noise, her field of vision usually consigned to a small bubble created by her own footsteps, and will not run or jump if she can’t hear what’s directly in front of her. This is where her feline friend comes into play – he can see the whole environment, climb precarious platforms, and make noise to guide Kit to the next piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, he hasn’t got thumbs, so Kit still has to literally pull her weight with pulling levers and dragging crates about the place. As a result the environmental puzzles have a really synergetic mix of thinking and doing, and though they’re relatively quickfire, it’s satisfying to pick your way through a level’s multiple layers.

With both characters seeing things differently – Hodge having a full field of regular vision and Kit seeing the world as darkness lashed with vibrant watercolour – the world around you always feels fresh and packed with detail. One particularly striking moment has you run a gauntlet of pistons slamming into the ground. Kit only sees the danger when it strikes, appearing as ominous red flares against pitch dark. Tackling it as Hodge is a much more traditional experience, allowing you to time your run through with ease. Corners have certainly not been cut here, and the game’s combination of a wonderful aesthetic and symphonic score is easily its greatest achievement. The world is fantastic by the word’s truest definition, and the only thing that holds it back is your movement through it.

Kit can’t see the whole environment, but she can pull a mean lever.

Though the mechanics are solid in theory, leaping around as Hodge feels regularly ropey and stilted, with the most efficient way of clambering onto a ledge being to stand as close to it as possible and jump straight upwards whilst pointing him in the direction you need him to clip onto. Feline grace, it ain’t. Neither Kit nor Hodge move well, and as the world escalates in scale, it becomes more and more apparent. Another Sight’s quirky mechanics are regularly a little hit and miss, with Kit’s sound vision implemented in sometimes interesting, sometimes just plain confusing ways. One earlier puzzle sees you rotate a wheel to line up pipes, and for most of the rotations, you can only see the pieces when they move. It’s not difficult in itself and a really neat little touch, but it’s not obvious to grasp what the end goal of it is, and with the limited field of vision, it becomes a little frustrating. This is something of a recurring theme throughout – great ideas that just don’t stick the landing every time. It’s easy to forget about these foibles when the game is in full indulgent  Another Sight often dips into the abstract, which is more often than not a good thing, but the stickiness of the movement itself is an ugly part of a beautiful, exceptionally well crafted world.

There’s a sort of dreamlike watercolour vibe to Kit’s vision, with noises blooming and pulsing in the dark with an array of different shades. It can feel claustrophobic at times, with only a cat’s meow to light the way, but that’s surely intentional.

Another Sight is strange in a lot of ways. It’s undeniably a work of art in some areas, but clunky and dull in others (when the guys who make these games finally stop making us drag crates across an entire level humanity will transcend). I want to praise it and moan about it all at once. Ultimately though, for every gripe and groan about the platforming there’s a stroke of imagination and passion to balance it out. A quirky, beautiful game with a lot of heart that outweighs its handful of flaws.

 

THE TL;DR:

  • A charming fantasy stroll through a Neverwhere-esque London underworld that does justice to its venerated inspiration.
  • Sticky controls and hit-and-miss mechanics flare up throughout but it’s worth persisting through the control niggles for the rest of the experience.
  • Rub shoulders with icons like Claude Monet, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla.
  • You can press F to meow.
  • A few dull moments and controls that don’t always work as they should do not take away that LGWS have crafted something that looks and sounds extraordinary throughout.

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