Oddworld Inhabitant’s puzzle/platformer Abe’s Oddysee was a very unique experience when it first released for the Playstation back in 1997. Blending top-notch animation, tight twitch gameplay and some experimental communication mechanics, the game won the hearts of gamers and critics alike back in the day. With Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New n’ Tasty!, developers Just Add Water bring the classic back to a new generation of gamers, complete with a new HD makeover, tweaks to the gameplay, and achievements that make it a worthy return to one great adventure.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New ‘n’ Tasty!
Developed and published by Just Add Water
Available on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Just Add Water
New ‘n’ Tasty tells the classic tale of a Mudokon (a green, lanky bipedal creature) named Abe, who’s an employee of Rupture Farms, one of Oddworld’s largest meat manufactures. When Rupture Farm’s signature snacks begin to take a dive in the market, the heads of the company decide to make Abe’s race the next hot meal in the menu. Spying on the secret investor presentation, Abe decides to escape, setting off a chain of events that will have him decide the fate of his race and his murderous, power-hungry employers.
The tale, which remains the same as the original release, is as charming as ever, thanks to all-new cinematics that flesh out the plot, remastered cutscenes, and flavor text in loading screens that round out the experience. The new engine also does a great job at breathing new life to the world and its characters, adding new animations, detail and physics to turn Oddworld into a much more convincing locale.
Gameplay thankfully remains largely the same, bringing a few tweaks here and there to make the experience more accessible to newcomers, yet retaining what made the game a winner in the first place.
As before, players take control of Abe and guide him through Rupture Farms and beyond on his quest for freedom. A 2D game at heart, Abe moves through screens or rooms that present him with various obstacles of increasing difficulty, such as having to avoid enemy Sligs (Rupture Farms’ enforcers) and other creatures, jump across large gaps and between dangerous obstacles such as bombs, ride on top of a creature called an Elum, and finally free his own kind by chanting to open escape portals or possessing enemies to do his bidding.
Since the game is based on trial and error, players will find themselves often dying as they learn how to successfully navigate through dangerous areas or effectively communicate with the Mudokon slaves. Finding out the correct way to navigate a moving mine field or telling Mudokons when to stop or follow will often have players scratching their heads, but once the trick to navigating or solving them is figured out, that’s where the game shows its true colors and becomes a truly enjoyable experience. New ‘n’ Tasty has a steep learning curve, but one players get past it, it becomes a truly addictive experience. It also helps that the game controls are as solid as ever, so every step, jump and roll will happen as long as the right buttons are pressed on time.
Among the new additions is that instead of being a series of separately loading rooms, many of the game areas are now interconnected. Not only does this cut down on loading time, but it also allowed the developers to play with camera angles, often shifting the viewpoint to dynamic angles for a more cinematic experience in comparison to the original title’s static side view.
Another is the tweak to hiding in shadows gameplay mechanic. The original game featured sections where Abe could hide in shadow to skip past guards unharmed. Here, however, they’ve replaced the shadows with billowing smoke vents. It’s more an aesthetic change than anything else, as it works just the same.
Then there are additions that make the experience easier for newcomers. One is the all-new checkpoint system, which allows Abe to respawn in certain areas by crossing past a marker. Unlike the original game which featured no checkpoints and had players start from the beginning of a section if they failed, this new system lessens the challenge somewhat by allowing difficult sections to be completed piece by piece. The second addition is a health meter for Abe, allowing him to take more punishment before he perishes. Previously, any type of damage would have meant the end for the Mudokon, but now, players can make some mistakes without dying instantly. Both are nice touches that helps gamers unaccustomed to the old-school difficulty of the game have the same amount of fun as others, and purists out there can always play the game sans the help by choosing the original difficulty before they start the game.
Despite the near perfection of New ‘n’ Tasty, a couple of issues exist that hamper the experience. One that I found was that on occasion, the enemy A.I’s scripts wouldn’t activate upon entering certain locations, effectively preventing the completion of a puzzle. One of the puzzles has Abe fall into a platform only to be chased by the dog-like Slogs, but sometimes I found myself with Slogs that wouldn’t chase and would kill me the moment I got close. I repeatedly had to exit the area and come back to reset the script, which was a bit of a hassle.
Second is that the rag-doll physics can cause weird animations. While they mostly look excellent, sometimes I’ve encountered dead enemies who shake back and forth on the ground. It’s not much of a big deal, but it sure is strange.
Despite some small problems, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New ‘n’ Tasty! is a fantastic return to the Oddworld adventure that started it all. With beautiful remastered visuals and some new tweaks to the gameplay, Abe’s first quest is now better than ever before.
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