“This is RuptureFarms.” Three words that take me back nearly 20 years. I first came across Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee on PC, the quirky puzzle-platformer having been my brother’s choice when we were let loose in GAME to choose something to play.
I always remember the cover, a long forgotten detail in an increasingly digital world. Abe’s mischievous smile had been welcoming, a precursor to the timid Mudokon’s panicked turmoil when he overhears the Magog Cartel’s plan to turn his species into the newest novelty meat snack in their Tasty Treats range.
That sees Abe dealt a cruel and overwhelming twist of fate. Once named an employee of the year for his floor-waxing prowess, he must now risk his life to avert Mudokon Pops becoming a reality. Such quest takes you on a whistle-stop tour of Oddworld, starting in the meat processing plant’s mechanical confines where Abe must first flee for his life.
It isn’t only his own hide that destiny would have him save, with 299 Mudokons enslaved at RuptureFarms who nonchalantly place their trust in Abe’s careful guidance and ease in letting out a random parp. That irrepressible charm permeates its way into every pixel, Abe’s warm personality nurturing the player’s interest in Oddworld’s essence. And 19 years later, that hasn’t changed.
The experience is reborn in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, Just Add Water’s scrumptious remake that sees their meticulous recrafting look to introduce the lowly Mudokon to a whole new generation. But, for those that saw his tale through, it’s an adventure that equally pangs with nostalgia.
While it will be the new graphical sheen that you inevitably notice first, Oddysee’s personality resonates loud and clear. The improved visuals certainly amplify the immeasurable character that has underpinned the series since conception. That is notably aided by the numerous switches in the environment, escaping the dank squalor of RuptureFarms seeing Abe journey through the dense forests in Paramonia and across Scrabania’s arid desert dunes.
When I had first played Abe’s Oddysee, it had felt more explorative in approach. Playing it through now, it’s partly clearer to me that the game is made up of numerous puzzle sections that are intricately woven together to build the (Odd)world that we’ve since grown to love.
These will have you sneaking past sleeping Sligs, hurling grenades to destroy mines blocking your path, distracting Slogs with meat, or recklessly bounding across rocks on the back of your loyal steed Elum. In this day and age, puzzle solutions can always be found online but it is in your own deductive reasoning that success becomes all the more satisfying. It remains remarkably well-varied from start to finish, rivalling even today’s creations nearly two decades after it was first conquered.
Unsuspecting Mudokons are present throughout the tale and help ramp up the challenge as you suss out solutions to the obstacles you have to overcome in which their safety is guaranteed. You can interact with them by using Gamespeak, an in-game soundboard of sorts that will rally Mudokons to form a conga line behind you, let you whistle to repeat passwords, or let out a random chuckle. This elevates Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, with the player readily embracing their interactions with the somewhat gruesome world that they are exploring.
Chanting becomes of equal importance, possessing nearby Sligs helping you to pull out of reach levers or simply opening Portals through which Mudokons can leap to their freedom. A skill that will eventually let Abe topple his oppressors, it is a key mechanic that is never left by the wayside throughout the game’s entirety.
Any frustrations surrounding Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty‘s trickier puzzles are alleviated with the new Quiksave feature, effectively letting you create your own restore points at the press of a button. While those looking to share the experience can enjoy Co-op mode, in which control is rotated between players each time that Abe meets a grizzly end.
Oddworld Inhabitants has spoken honestly about the challenges that they have had to overcome in porting Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty to Wii U, an unexpectedly lengthy process that was achieved with assistance from Nephilim Game Studios. That immense effort is rewarded, delivering an experience that largely matches its counterpart on PlayStation 3.
While it is broadly a resounding success, the transition isn’t entirely blemish-free. Seemingly inspired by Abe’s own quirky mannerisms, I encountered a few graphical mishaps and audio issues on my playthrough, necessitating checkpoint restarts on occasion. These were few and far between but jarred in their occurrence – detracting from what can otherwise be seen as an impeccable revival.
Sadly absent from Nintendo’s systems since Game Boy’s Oddworld Adventures in 1998, Abe’s heroics look slick as ever as he makes a welcome return in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. Porting niggles threaten to detract, but this sensational reboot deserves to be relived.