Developers: Art by Just Add Water Ltd; Programming by Four Door Lemon Ltd
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants Inc
Platform: PSN only PlayStation 3, PSVita (coming soon!?)
Price: US: $9.99; UK: £9.99; EU: €12.99
It’s been a long time since I’d played the original Oddworld games staring the Messianic Mudochan Abe but thankfully Munch comes with a Previously in Oddworld that cuts together the FMV from Abe’s Oddysee amd Abe’s Exodus in to the lovely catch up story.
I started a new game and the first thing that struck me was how lovely the Intro was, introducing the eponymously lead as an Odd looking amphibious dolphine like creture that can use it’s tail as a foot to hop around on land. The intro is very touching, but what I didn’t expect was that I would be playing as Abe to start off with. Without giving any spoilers you have to meet up with Munch by using fellow Mudochan’s to assist you by using the old Greet and Follow mechanic from the orginal games.
The first thing that struck me was the fact that gone is the side scrolling platformer of the original games as it’s now a 3D puzzle platformer. Using your fellow Mudochan’s to assist with opening doors and making your way to meet up with Munch. When you reach him you are able to alternate between Abe and Munch via Triangle, working cooperatively to rescue enslaved Mudochan’s and cute and bitey Fuzzles. These new allies can be used to attack and kill enemies. Allies can be released from levels via chanting at specific portals. Scoreboards show how many enemies are in each levels either alive or dead, and how many Allies are in the level or rescued. To assist you on your journeys you need to use vending machines that contain various Sodapop perks, such as Expresso for boosting speed. Electroshock which only Munch can drink is used to incapacitated and kill enemies.
Munch and Abe are very different characters and their unique skills are required to make it through levels, solving puzzles and releasing / recruiting the captured to turn them against their slave masters. My favourite is Munch’s ability to take over certain machinery such as cranes and gun turrets to clear levels out but I also enjoy the return of Abe’s possession chant which can be used to turn the enemies on themselves.
Visually this does look nice but no way of the quality of the incredibly good looking Stranger’s Wrath HD. There is a lovely mix of interior and exterior levels which help to keep the game looking fresh and the leads look lovely. With some very cute animations such as when Munch gains access to a wheelchair which is handy for getting him around more quickly than his slow hopping. Some of the levels are actually massive, and give a different scale to Oddworld. Sadly I did suffer with a fair amount of slow down, generally occurring when there’s lots going on screen at once and sometimes when entering new areas. Also the camera on the right stick can be a total pain in the arse, not always looking where you aim it, making 3D platforming at times deeply frustrating.
Generally this game controls well with left analogue stick allowing varying movement speed depending on the amount of pressure. Something that a lot of current games forget by requring you to press another button to run. X is your jump button which is mostly functional but there are issues with Abe sliding off platforms or unforgivinly over jumping them. Thankfully the game features a quick Save and Load function accessed by the Start button, there are a couple of levels where I was saving after every successful landing.
Audio is generally ok, the music is really good, as are the brilliant voices. That said I have some issues with the audio samples used, as they are sound overly compressed, to the point where at times they sound flat and sometimes tinny. Abe’s footsteps and the irritatingly repetitive gun noises being the main culprits. I can only assume that this is due to the sample rate of the original audio assets that have been used, but it does make the game feel less HD than I’d like.
This game is not easy at times there are some mountainous difficulty spikes that got me close to rage quitting, if it wasn’t for the previously mentioned Quick Save I would have given up. What kept me going was the story and how much I felt for the two leads and the quest that opens up for them. After each main level you get a comedic Newspaper front page show these Most Wanted criminal acts of sedition. The trophies in this game pop regularly as you progress through this odd couple adventure. You gain awards for collecting Spooce, which are essential for getting through certain areas or upgrading Mudochan’s. Some Trophies are really challenging, and make the Platinum feel almost unobtainable.
If you’re a fan of Oddworld games I highly recommend it, especially as the latest patch has fixed prior game glitches and bugs. Just be warned this game looks and feels like an Xbox / PS2, reminiscent of the unforgiving nature of original Jak & Daxter. Yet it also has the challenge and charm of 3D platformers of that generation, with an engaging story to boot.