Few stories have remained as lasting and as haunting as H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Its tale of a Victorian-era London, beset by pitiless, immeasurably superior Martian harvesters, is still as chilling today as it was when written. Naturally, it’s a great fit for videogames.
Like the story it draws from, The War of the Worlds on XBLA and PSN is presented in an equally lasting way, taking a sidescrolling platform approach most memorably found in games like Heart of Darkness and Out Of This World.
It’s also as classy as cricket.
If you were a fan of the more recently released Limbo, then you’ll really like what War of the Worlds sets out to do. This is a slower paced sidescroller full of environmental puzzles and enemies that are much better at killing than you are — which isn’t hard since you’re unarmed. Like all great scrolling adventures, Worlds is a game that will end your life repeatedly and force you to learn from your mistakes.
As the player explores a devastated London, there are tons of traps and puzzles to defeat. Simple block puzzles and jumps are joined by deadly electric cables and sinister Martian drones, and one false move will lead to death. The opening section was a fairly simple collection of jumping puzzles, but the controls were simple and tight, and the game has a unique flow. It’s also due to get far more complex as it progresses, with one level even letting players take down an iconic Martian Tripod.
Throughout the game, legendary actor Patrick Stewart lends his narration, recounting your adventure in the past tense and adding plenty of flavor to the story. In addition, the game’s restricted color palette and excellent use of shadows makes for a game that looks highly stylized and memorable. As I said earlier, this is a classy game, and the minimalist visual style reflects that.
I was very impressed with what I had played of War of the Worlds, and I have a feeling that it’ll be absolutely loved by fans of old school platform adventures, as well as those who enjoy the original book. With terrific visuals, a wonderful atmosphere and solid, challenging gameplay, this is one digital title I’m looking forward to with gusto!