Creativity is a fascinating thing. It is innately a free and limitless concept, but seemingly the greater the creation the greater the temptation is to exploit it. Phew, sorry I got a little spaced out there, I might need to go for a walk and ponder life for an hour or two. All jokes and high-school philosophy ideals aside, the notion itself is fairly true. Take the internet as an example; it is the great connection, tying everyone around the globe together and allowing people to converse from opposite sides of the planet. The flip side is a lack of real privacy, with corporations having access to your likes and dislikes in order to better sell you products. This popped into my mind while playing story-based platformer Another Sight, as it tackles such themes while also attempting to put a spin on conventional platforming gameplay. Though it might have some issues regarding said gameplay, it manages to hide its shortcomings by providing great visuals and an endearing story.
Creation versus industry, with a touch of English architecture for good measure
Prior to the events of the beginning of the game, Kit, the player character, helped her father on an expedition of some sort when the ground beneath them collapsed and separated them from each other. Kit awakens in a near-blinded state in a surreal, floating landscape consisting of clockwork components, brick structures and steampunk-inspired steel, unable to see but a few feet in front of her. Confused, delirious and worried for her father’s wellbeing, Kit stumbles upon a ginger cat that can seemingly understand her speech as well as her current situation. A blonde girl in a blue dress falling in a hole and unable to return home: check. A feline companion that guides said girl through a fantastical world: check. It all sounds suspiciously Alice in Wonderland, doesn’t it? And it is. The game clearly takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s tale as well as a number of other stories, particularly in the first few acts, but it does stand on its own two feet as the story unfolds.
Soon after encountering the strange cat you learn that Kit is able to ‘see’ through sound, kind of like Daredevil if he was a teenage girl with a British accent. Kit is able to see further and move quicker if there are sounds around her to guide her path, such as a cat’s meow for instance. This is where our ginger friend, named Hodge, comes into play. Another Sight asks you to not only control Kit, but Hodge as well, meowing and creating noise in the environment so that Kit is able to move around confidently. You are able to switch back and forth between the two with the press of a button, which is often necessary to solve puzzles and progress through each area.
You can change Hodge’s look in the opening menu, this one is a reference of some sort I think
Kit’s movement is awfully slow and though I understand that it makes sense in relation to the narrative, it does become rather arduous to control her after a while as everything from walking to moving objects takes an absolute age. Hodge on the other hand, is fast and nimble, able to leap large distances and scale certain walls, often doing so to reach a switch or lever that is inaccessible to Kit. Though they play very differently to one another, they can both be a pain to control as the actual platforming in Another Sight is a tad off. Jumping either results in over or undershooting, certain ledges are able to be grabbed to prevent a fall while others aren’t (despite looking identical) and the general weight and feel of Kit in particular just isn’t quite right. This might seem like an instant write-off, but the platforming isn’t all that difficult so the amount of times you are likely to hurl a controller over a misjudged jump is far smaller than if Super Meat Boy had janky controls. There is a real need for a button press to call the other character to your location or even a mechanic that allows one to follow the other. Making your way through a section as Kit only to repeat the same movements immediately as Hodge can be a quite tedious.
After you make your way through the obligatory initial area of almost every game, the sewers, Another Sight begins to open up into a genuinely enthralling game, story-wise at the very least. You begin to learn more about the world that you inhabit, a surreal and fantastical take on the 1880s that blends steampunk with classical. Kit comes to know that her father was searching for a power source known as The Node and that her blindness, as well as Hodge’s nature, might be linked to it. The narrative takes you to a number of subterranean locations in search of The Node, such as a beautiful garden and an enormous ocean filled with aquatic creatures. While travelling towards this mysterious item you encounter a number of famous creatives from the time period such as Claude Monet, Jules Verne and Claude Debussy, all of which use The Node’s power as inspiration for their craft. They covet creativity and passion and treat Kit with kindness as she travels through their world. On the other side of the same coin is Thomas Edison, portrayed as an industrialist who seeks The Node in order to drive production and generate wealth. These opposing ideals are at the heart of Another Sight’s story and pose a brilliant question to the player, is creativity more important than progress? As soon as the famous figures were introduced alongside the main plot I was hooked and had a strong desire to see the story through and, without spoiling anything, I was not disappointed.
It is worth noting that this game is beautiful. The entire world can be seen in two ways—through the eyes of Hodge which is to say normally, but still gorgeous—and as Kit, who sees with a combination of limited sight as well as sound. Kit’s vision is best described as a live water-colour painting with visible brush strokes that are alive and moving. Switching between the two characters to see whose style was more appealing was something I found myself doing a lot. As I mentioned earlier there are a variety of different locations that are all visually distinct from each other, creating the sense of walking through a gallery that houses different artists expressions of the same space.
Puzzles are scattered through each area that require a balance of play as Kit and Hodge. This mostly comes in the form of one opening a path for the other, or visa versa, to arrive at a final puzzle. I would have liked a bit more challenge when it came to puzzles as they usual boiled down to remembering a pattern or lining up pipes for water or electricity to run through. More variation and a greater focus on difficulty would have vastly improved these. In the closing stages of the game a new gameplay element is introduced as you hide from guards that are attempting to capture you. This comes as a bit of a shock to the system when playing as the extra mechanic is added rather late and feels like a little tacked on and unnecessary. It really isn’t a major gripe, but going from noise based platforming to hiding behind a rock until a guard passes you feels like an unnatural shift. The pacing of gameplay in general is a little stilted as certain objects seem to be put in your path purely to lengthen the game, and animations such as climbing are extra slow. Again, not a giant issue, but when I was climbing up a rock just to take two steps and climb back down I did begin to question why the rock was put there in the first place. Apologies if I sound like a madman screaming at inanimate objects, I just dislike things being added for the sake of it.
Kit may not see in the conventional sense, but what she does see is gorgeous
Some games live and die on their gameplay and don’t need a strong story to be enjoyable. Others, like Another Sight, rely on their world and the tale being told to hide their pitfalls. The platforming isn’t great and the late game inclusion of another mechanic is jarring, but I find myself looking less at Another Sight’s weakness and more at its strengths in both visual and narrative beauty. If you have it in you to forgive some missteps here and there and want to be whisked away to a story-book world while relaxing one afternoon, go ahead and give Another Sight your time.
Reviewed PlayStation 4 Pro | Review code supplied by publisher