You had me at hello.
17 years ago, a bulgy, yellow-eyed abomination popped its head through a hole in the wall and greeted me.
“Hello.” said the forlorn looking creature.
“Um… hello?” I awkwardly replied.
I later discovered that this creature was called Abe, and that amazingly, I could make him fart on command.
When Abe broke wind for the first time it was potent, a little wet, but most importantly, it was a smelly sign of friendship. This giggle-inducing trump forged an unbreakable bond between me and the sinewy saviour of the Mudokon people, and the stench of joy we both shared on that day still lingers on.
The Scent of Slavery
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was, and still is, a special game. Saving an entire race from an oppressive, capitalist corporation wasn’t exactly a common theme in video games back in 1997 – and even today, it still isn’t. Yet, somehow, Abe’s unlikely message was delivered with a surprising level of poignancy. If you missed out on Abe’s Oddysee when it released, I suggest you check out my retro reflection to bring you up to speed.[blockquote_right]Abe’s loincloth trembling farts have lost none of their lustre.[/blockquote_right]
But where has our pale green protagonist been these last 17 years? Well, apart from a fitting sequel in 1998, Abe’s four-fingered grasp on the industry has gradually weakened as the years rolled by. But now he’s back!
Abe has returned from his long-awaited exodus in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, a bona fide remake of the PlayStation classic. But after nearly two decades, has Abe’s appeal waned like RuptureFarms’ profits? Or have developers Just Add Water bottled a unique brand of unforgettable flatulence once again?
Don’t worry, Abe’s loincloth trembling farts have lost none of their lustre. And the game’s an absolute blast to play, too.
Stinking Good Job
Built from the ground-up using the increasingly popular Unity Engine, Just Add Water have squeezed out a newborn Abe for a modern-day audience. And boy does our stitched-lipped hero look handsome! New ‘n’ Tasty lives up to its name with delicious new graphics, so good that the thought of chomping down on a Paramite pie becomes an appetising prospect.
Thankfully, the visual overhaul remains true to the game’s original art style. That means Abe still looks like Abe, more so than ever strangely enough, but it’s the environments that really shine. Caged Paramites snarl as they travel down one of RuptureFarms’ many conveyor belts; Mudokons hum in rhythmic unison as you scamper through Monsaic Lines; and the daily, deadly grind of working like a slave for the Glukkon overlords is even more tangible than ever.
As you’d expect, New ‘n’ Tasty has also benefited from other technological advancements; the stop-start nature of the original has now been resolved, transforming New ‘n’ Tasty into a fully-fledged side scroller. Lighting also plays a spectacular role in enhancing the atmosphere of every level: creeping through the Scrapyards as the sun begins to set is a picturesque moment; the piercing reds of motion sensors, Chant Suppressors and warning alarms are equally as striking.
Unfortunately the game does suffer from a number of irritating bugs. The game froze on numerous occasions during my playthrough, booting me back to the PS4 home screen against my will. Nothing was a deal breaker, though, but it did take the shine off the high quality production values. Hopefully these will be eradicated at a later date.
The voice overs in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty have also changed. Abe sounds more like a country bumpkin this time around, rather than the softly spoken weirdo I so fondly remember. Luckily my initial disappointment soon dissipated, as Abe’s Mudokon colleagues and the machine-gun touting Sligs are far more chatty than ever before. Hearing a Slig yell, “I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna!” as they’re about to explode never gets old, nor does the subtle observation that “it smells of farts round here” from one of the many Mudokon workers.[yt_video id=”wbxRlPZXWss”][/yt_video]
So New ‘n’ Tasty certainly looks and sounds the part, but how does it play? Exceptionally well, once you get the hang of it, that is. Previously, Abe was a rather sluggish Mudokon. He’d always walk before he ran (that required a button press), and he generally felt a bit stiff when moving about. Now, however, Abe is a spritely little fella, skipping into a canter with startling enthusiasm. Sprinting is as easy as tilting the analog stick fully in the direction you desire; walking is done by tilting the analog only slightly. This, as you can imagine, creates a slight problem.
For the first hour or so I found myself bounding endlessly into mines, trapdoors, and anything that could hurt my poor Mudokon friend like a overexburant bull in a china shop. I kept over tilting, under tilting, and dying constantly. In game that’s designed to punish you for poor platforming, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?
At first I detested the controls in New ‘n’ Tasty; jumping felt too loose and movement appeared downright erratic. But honestly, after saving 299 of my Mudokon brothers, I wouldn’t go back to the original control scheme. I love the new agile Abe. I love the fact that each mistake is mine and mine alone, and that sometimes the lack of perfect accuracy leads to a few unlikely escapes or ridiculous deaths. The decision to use analog controls was certainly a brave one, but it was a risk that paid off.
Luckily, dying isn’t really an issue in New ‘n’ Tasty. And that’s pretty important because you’ll be dying a lot. New ‘n’ Tasty now includes a healthy array of checkpoints and a life-saving quick save feature (thank God). This means mistakes can now be rectified quickly, and the various checkpoints add a much-needed sense of fair play to the sometimes brutal proceedings.
A review code was provided courtesy of Oddworld Inhabitants. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 4.
The One To Follow
So is Oddworld: New ‘n ‘ Tasty worth playing? Absolutely. This isn’t just a simple HD update, or a nostalgia grabbing cash-in; this is a game that was thoroughly deserving of a new audience and has been rebuilt wonderfully. Scrumptious to look at, and satisfying to play, New ‘n’ Tasty is how remakes should be made.