There is no doubt that the Oddworld was a unique breath of fresh air (despite Abe's foul farts) when it was first released on the PS1. It was an interesting Puzzle-Platformer with a unique look and a subversive story. Also, it had hugely ambitious lore behind it.
Yet, playing it now, I cannot but wonder at the patience players at the time must have had to enjoy it. Abe's Oddysee is a game that demands precision without being equipped for it and has some very obtuse solutions to puzzles on top of that.
That's not to say that its unique charm cannot be engaging some of the time.
#63(S): Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee:
Publisher: GT Interactive Software.
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste.
"My name is Abe. I was employee of the year, now I am dead meat"
The opening cinematic cut-scene immediately establishes both the lore of Oddworld and the stakes of Abe's Oddysee. As a member of the enslaved Mudokon species, Abe works in a slave factory making food products for the Mudokon's Glukkon overlords.
At the beginning of the game, the sales of their food products have started deteriorating recently, and the Glukkon's were just about to start making and marketing some New 'n Tasty product. Unfortunately, for the Mudokons, they are the main ingredient of that product. Abe accidentally discovers that fact, and so begins his escape journey.
That's doesn't look like it would make good food
Despite there being little dialogue or implicit exposition, the game's world obviously depicts the terrible conditions of the enslaved Mudokons in hilariously Orwellian background text. Also, through the animation and personality of Abe and the other denizens of the universe, which partially remind me of the personality of the Earthworm Jim franchise, Oddworld becomes fully realized.
As such, the excellent setting and world of the game are still preserved and humorous today and are probably the primary reason anyone would have to experience the game.
"Don't play with your food. Unless it plays with you first"
On the other hand, I don't think that Abe's Oddysee's gameplay has stood the test of time. Simply put, it is both too precise and too cumbersome for its own good.
As a 2D Puzzle-Platformer, each screen in the game is populated with a puzzle to solve, and that is usually presented in three levels if you want to truly roleplay as Abe. First, you need to survive the danger yourself. Second, you need to neutralize the danger so that you can save your fellow Mudokons. Third, you need to make sure your fellow Mudokons survive the danger so that they can then teleport to safety.
Unfrotuantnetly, the solution to any of these puzzles can either be an obtuse and extremely specific and frame-specific maneuver or a frustrating dependency on AI behavior. For instance, grabbing into ledges can only happen if you jump from ONE exact location in the flow with no correction if you jumped before or after that VERY SPECIFIC point.
Har-de-har, a lever accidentally kills your ally, SOOO FUNNNNNY
Also, your AI allies are idiots and completely unreliable. Sure, you are given and a number of commands you can give them, but these are mostly useless. So much that I enjoyed it more when those idiots fell to their death than when I actually managed to save them.
This frustration would be slight alleviated if the core gameplay was actually fun or rewarding in any way. Yet, I honestly found it boring, repetitive, and not worth the agony.
"Mudokons entering this door will be slaughtered and packaged as disgusting yet yummy novelty meat products"
In order to sell the lore of its world, Abe's Oddysee clearly needed to have some excellent visual design and direction, and that is undoubtedly true in this case. The Mudokon species have unique and expressive designs, and these designs are expertly animated as well.
This gives a lot of personality to the characters, which is supported by the oppressive personality of their enslaved world.
Unfrotuantnetly, the color palette is dark, which means that the screens start repeating style frequently, and that gets a bit boring after a while.
Everything is a shade of brown
As for the game's sound effects. They are uniformly funny even if the Mudokon farts are not funny as the developers (or the Mudokons themselves) think. The limited voice command acting is also well-executed.
However, I don't recall the music having any presence in the game, and the soundtrack was mostly ambient with little oomph or pizazz to prop Abe's adventure up in any meaningful way.
Gamers regularly ignored the frustrating aspects of some games in the past when they had other good parts to them. At least, we were more used to unfair design and repeated failures.
Unfortunately for Abe's Oddysee, I don't think its unique and interesting world shields it from what I consider some unfairly precise gameplay, nor would I consider it fun even if it was slightly less frustrating.
There isn't anything odd about that.
1-Don't bother trying to save all the Mudokens to avoid frustration.
Not remotely tasty for my taste
For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now to review Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.
This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.
Also, note the following:
-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not on the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
Maybe we should just ignore these blithering idiots
Damn, I expected to like this game much more than I ended up doing, but it simply is not as fun to play as the story and setting deserves.
As such, I am not terribly excited about playing the game's prequel, Oddworld: Abe's Exodus which is considered the better game and is the one numbered 63 in the Retro Sanctuary list.
For Previous PS1 Game Reviews: