Heart of The Alien on Sega CD. Frustrating. Memorable. Unfair. Sublime. Entertaining and annoying in equal measure. What a game. Having recently completed it in two parts on Twitch I may even tag it as the best of its genre. Yes, I think I liked it more than even the wonderful Flashback, a game I have touted for greatness since my first ever playthrough back in the annals of time.

Released in 1994 on the US market only this Sega CD exclusive was the sequel to Out of This World, known as Another World in other markets. Éric Chahi, game designer and programmer has wooed us many times and his flair for the artistic really shows on our journey as Buddy, friend and conspiratorial other half to lester, the red headed hero of Out of This World.

In many ways the game feels like a smorgasbord of fashion as we trek across Alien vistas dressed in chic black equipped with simple tools. If this were modern day Earth it would be a Parisian Fashion Show filled with glamour and style, and a steady supply of blood lust. The ending even has the ultimate fashion model strutting her tight black dress across the screen as if doing the catwalk of fame to excitable onlookers. It truly is a beautiful game to behold and play despite its frustrating controls. When completed you feel exhausted but satisfied and very, very happy, it is all over.

Heart of The Alien starts exactly where Out of This World leaves off with Lester assisting Buddy in a role reversal of sorts and in my opinion this works brilliantly. You get the vibes of Out of This World and even the same kind of gameplay but that extra twist of being the grey skinned, black suited James Bond of other worlds brings a certain machismo that Lester frankly lacks. From nerd to bodybuilder with much more play based around shooting and pushing others around compared to the original. Visceral is the best word for it but it is not an over the top experience, you still need to be discerning when it comes to the various puzzles around the level, most of which consist of common sense but sometimes they are vague in conception and you may need to grab a guide to show you where Eric was going. As is usual though, once you see the path it becomes quite obvious to the game what the intention was all along.

Is this game for you? Well, that depends on how you handle the sometimes laggy controls and if you have a head for repetition. Like the original and its Flashback kin the game does rely on you trying and failing until success. Some like this gameplay, I love it. Some however will despise it, claim the game is too hard and pass it over as if the game is at fault, which it is not. It isn’t hard as we would define a Video Game. This is no Dark Souls lesson in frustration for difficulties sake, it is a lesson in learning a lesson. Give it a try. the art direction alone is worth the initial pains you may feel and once you grasp the way its story is driven to its sad conclusion you will enjoy it. I hope! Oh and yes, this is no happy ending. No spoilers but if you like everything to be right in the World with your Marvel movie endings and smiley happy characters you will find this game heartbreaking, and its all the better for it.

Let us know if you play it, or have in the past in the comments below. The game was also open sourced many years ago and ported to the Amiga in 2016.