Between Bubsy and Big the Cat from the Sonic series, cats haven't always had the best of times in video games, but that's certainly not the case with Another Sight. The title, which did a solid job of building real-world names into a story of shifting realities and magic realism, included Hodge, a cat companion who also took the role of one of two playable characters. Now, Hodge is back in the free Steam prequel Another Sight: Hodge's Journey.
Hodge clearly made a big impression with the development team over at Lunar Great Wall Studios, because the little guy has been made the key playable character this time around. In Another Sight: Hodge's Journey, the plot follows the cat, much as the name suggests. This brings with it some key positives, although there are some major drawbacks as well.
It's worth noting that many of the best bits of Another Sight revolved around Hodge, so it certainly makes plenty of sense for the cat to have the focus this time around. In the core game, Hodge had a much greater movement speed, and flexibility when it came to overcoming obstacles. While fellow playable character Kit sometimes felt sluggish to control, Hodge was much better.
For Hodge's Journey, Lunar Great Wall Studios has rightly put an emphasis on this part of the game. The puzzles here are less cerebral on the whole than those in the main game, instead primarily based around jumping and climbing, with some rodent-herding thrown in for good measure. Although the blend of the two fits Another Sight on the whole, for a short prequel such as this having a more physical element to the gameplay suits it well.
In a way, this prequel acts as a demo of the key game, showcasing what Another Sight has to offer to those who might want to follow it up with the main event. However, more than the gameplay this is especially true of the game's art style. Whereas Another Sight slowly dropped players into the more abstract elements of its world, Hodge's Journey is much more forthright with its design.
The result is just as impressive as the main game, with the more down-to-earth levels matched well with the gravity-defying, lush colors of the artistic moments. As such, Hodge's Journey is still a joy to look at, with some stunning moments along the way, reminiscent of a steampunk fairy tale.
That said, there are a few issues here. Control was a main problem with Another Sight, with awkward character movements a big factor, and Hodge's Journey still has this issue. Although Hodge has more fluent movement, there are still some awkward animations and delays that may leave players feeling a little aggrieved here and there. Hodge moves like a real cat a lot of the time - albeit with a lot more purpose - yet the pinpoint accuracy for some jumps makes Hodge feel a little too clumsy.
As well as this, there's a lack of variety here in comparison to the main title. The dynamic between Hodge and teenager Kit was one of the major parts of what made Another Sight an interesting puzzle game, both due to their characters and what each provided from a gameplay perspective. By just having Hodge's side of things, it does feel a little less nuanced.
Nonetheless, for a quick - and free - prequel it's hard not to enjoy Another Sight: Hodge's Journey. From its gorgeous visuals and tone through to the character of Hodge himself, there's plenty to recommend, although the flaws of the core game are still here for all to see. Certainly something to try out.