Down, down, into the dark we go…
Title: Another SIght
Platform: PC (reviewed), to be later released on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in 2018
Developer: Lunar Great Wall Studios
Publisher: Fish Eagle
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Being blind is even less fun in platformers
Price: £16/US price TBC
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
As someone with terrible eyesight, I’m lucky to even get video game protagonists who wear glasses, let alone those who can’t see full stop. Another Sight tells the tale of a wonderfully stubborn Victorian girl called Kit, who upon venturing into the London Underground to see her father’s work, ended up in some kind of accident, and woke up in the depths of the city, unable to see. Stumbling around in the dark, she realises that she can still see, but only when objects make sounds… so what a good thing she has a helpful feline companion, Hodge, to guide her along the way.
Although it sounds unlikely in a game about a blind girl, the core gameplay of Another Sight is platforming and puzzles. Whilst Kit tries to make her way back to the surface, she’ll need to navigate as best she can, which is a lot of pulling switches and climbing ladders. Hodge, on the other hand, is pretty adept at scrambling up pipes and scaring off rats, wriggling into all those areas that Kit can’t fit into. The game’s remarkably good at using the motif of darkness and sound to its advantage; puzzles, for example, will have you dodging past thumping pistons, the screen lighting up gold as they slam down, just a hair’s breadth away from Kit’s dress – listen to the scrape of the pipes as they flicker into Kit’s vision when she rotates them, or time your jumps to the sound of the rats squealing in terror from Hodge’s mews, turning the environment red, green, and pink.
The range of puzzles is pretty nice, but they’re hampered by the very motif that makes them so interesting. As Kit can only see when sound is being produced, the most of your environment you can make out is a small glow surrounding her, and that makes obstacles and objects you can interact with very easy to miss in the dark. A lot of the puzzles involve you manoeuvring Kit and Hodge into various places so you can get to other levels, and whilst you can tap RB to switch to Hodge’s POV, which is much brighter and easier to navigate, it becomes difficult to work out where exactly you’ve dumped Kit to get to the next part of the puzzle.
This, along with clunky controls, was my main issue with the game. Whilst symbolically, it’s great to have this strange sixth sense, wandering about in the dark for half an hour and backtracking because you keep missing things, gets old, and quickly, especially when there’s no way to manually save. Getting frustrated and quitting in the middle of a puzzle might lose you a good chunk of progress, especially when said puzzles aren’t particularly well signposted in the first place. There’s the aforementioned pipe puzzle, where you’re spinning rings to try and make a sequence or picture… only what sequence or picture. it’s never quite clear.
Other times, you might feel like you’re stuck in a dead end; Kit has nowhere to go, and Hodge doesn’t, either. This is usually solved by frantically mashing buttons while you’re in control of the cat until something happens, only by that point, you’ve gone off to try something else, only to backtrack to it much later. It’s things like this, combined with little, annoying things, that stop the game being as good as it could be.
The game is pretty slow paced, with it being four hours in before I got to the next proper cutscene, and although the sketched scenes are gorgeous, the character models veer slightly into the Uncanny Valley of several console generations ago. Kit moves incredibly slowly, which doesn’t help with the issue of backtracking (though admittedly she can’t see, so it’s rather understandable), and the jumping mechanics for both playable characters need tweaking. For Hodge, they’re far too sensitive, making a tap of the joystick sending you tumbling down to the floor, and they’re downright aggravating for Kit. She can only jump when she can see her destination, which is why getting her across ledges is usually done by scaring rats across, so their squeaks can light her way. This isn’t particularly well explained, and it’s already difficult to see where the ledge is, so more often than not, she falls short and goes down into the dark.
Despite minor framerate issues at times, Another Sight is a game with a lot of good ideas in theory, that, with some tweaks to the controls, could be a solid game in practice. With darkness, sound, and vivid colours as its motif, it brings a whimsical world to life that you should definitely check out for yourself… if you’re better than me at puzzles, and have a hell of a lot more patience.
- Beautiful cutscenes
- Interesting motifs and themes
- Gorgeous use of lighting and colour
- Jumping controls need rebalancing
- Puzzles are frustrating and unclear
- Backtracking is frequent
Another Sight is not yet rated by PEGI and the ESRB. I’d say the ages of 10 and up should be fine.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review code provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.