Back in 1997, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
was released as the first title in the planned Oddworld
quintology. It garnered critical acclaim for its gameplay and has remained a fan-favourite over the years. Since then, Oddworld
has been one of the most requested franchises to be revived; while Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty
may not be the revival that people were wanting, the re-imagining of Abe's Oddysee
has a chance to bring the franchise to a new generation of gamers and consoles. Should you leap into the dangerous world of an industry in peril, or would it be best to steer clear and remain safe in the knowledge that Mudokons are not on your menu tonight?
Our protagonist, Abe, is a Mudokon who is employed as a cleaner at RuptureFarms meat factory. He and his fellow Mudokon slaves are guarded and tortured by the brutal Slig guards, who are employed to make sure that the slaves never stop working. Despite this, Abe is happy enough. One day, his cleaning route takes him past the board room during an important meeting. The factory's profits are falling and drastic measures are needed. To Abe's terror, he realises that the drastic measures needed to rescue to factory will spell doom for himself and his fellow Mudokons -- they will be turned into pies! Abe is determined to escape, but will he be able to rescue all of his colleagues too?
So far, so very familiar for those of you who played the original title. After all, you would be forgiven for thinking that New 'n' Tasty
is just a HD remake of the Abe's Oddysee
, but this would be an injustice to developer Just Add Water. Not only does the game look prettier, the gameplay has been tweaked to accommodate the modern gamer. The game retains the same puzzle-platformer level design as before, tells the same story and reintroduces the same characters and enemies. However, the game no longer uses static screens between which players transitioned via doors or the side of the screen. The levels now scroll along and, when coupled with a camera that will change its perspective away from the 2D side-scrolling of old, players are occasionally offered a different perspective and a wider view. No longer do you wander blindly into enemies and traps -- you have advance warning.
That sign in the hole is the game's tactful way of saying "here be death"
This doesn't mean that the levels are made any easier by the fact that you'll know what is coming. Abe still has to avoid the deadly obstacles that litter his escape route, be it the vicious meat grinders in RuptureFarms, the sensitive motion detectors of the Free Fire Zone, or the mine-riddled paths of Scrabania. This is in addition to the variety of enemies that he will face, united by their dislike of Mudokons but all with their own behavioural patterns. Some places require players to sprint to safety, relying on their wits to save them from death. In other places, precision and picking the right moment are far more important.
At this point, you may be remembering the rather clunky controls of Abe's Oddysee
, when precision was easier said than done. In New 'n' Tasty
the controls have also been tweaked. Moving the
slightly will make Abe walk; move it all the way and he will sprint. Pressing
at the same time will make Abe sneak stealthily. Master these three speeds and you'll have no problem, but you will
die several times beforehand, perhaps by stepping too close to a mine or moving quickly enough for a Slig guard to hear you. Often you will easily work out what you need to do, but doing it might take several attempts. A small mercy is that Abe also has an endless supply of bottlecaps to use as distractions for guards. Players can use
to aim their projectiles, something that was previously impossible. Practice makes perfect!
Ssshhh! Don't wake the sleeping guard. Or throw a rock at him. Your choice.
For some people, the game's original difficulty would now be too frustrating. This is likely the reason that New 'n' Tasty
has implemented some new features to make life easier. Checkpoints have been rebalanced and the game's learning curve seems gentler than before. There is also a selection of difficulty levels -- Easy, Normal and Hard. The latter difficulty is the closest to replicating the game's original experience. There are more traps and they leave little room for error. Enemies are quicker, have better hearing and can kill Abe in one hit. The lower difficulties give Abe more health and offer more margin for error. However, for those that have very little time for repeating their actions, there is also a new QuikSave feature. Players can save their progress at any time. If things go wrong, loading up the Quiksave will place players back at their chosen savepoint, rather than the nearest checkpoint.
It isn't just the way that the game plays that has changed; Just Add Water has added some new friends, too. One of Abe's tasks, if you choose to accept it, is to rescue as many of his fellow Mudokons as possible. The bad news is that there are many, many more Mudokons than you will remember - 299 if we want to be precise - and RuptureFarms has hidden them well. The good news is that they are now easier to rescue thanks to the implementation of an improved GameSpeak system. Using the d-pad, players can issue commands to a group of Mudokons; by bidding the slaves to Follow or Wait individually or as a group, rescuing a large number of slaves is not as laborious as first thought.
When I said "many, many Mudokons", I wasn't joking.
If you attempt to rescue your fellow Mudokons, you will enjoy a much longer playthrough of the campaign than you will if you choose to ignore their plight. Their fate will decide which of the game's two endings you earn as well, both of which you will need to see if you wish to gain all of the game's achievements. You can even share the experience with a friend in the game's local co-op mode, although only one player can control the action at any one time. When the first player dies, the second player becomes active. When the second player dies, the first returns to the fray. It's a nice gesture, but is one that is likely to be ignored by most people.
Speaking of the game's achievements, there is a fair mix of unmissable story-related achievements, those related to the game's collectibles (the Mudokons) and random gameplay achievements. While it is technically possible to earn all of the game's achievements in just two playthroughs, most players are likely to need three. You'll rescue all of the Mudokons on Hard difficulty for one, while largely ignoring/killing the Mudokons for a second. The third playthrough will likely see players rescuing all of the Mudokons again, only this time aiming for a completion time of three hours or less. While the list is not very difficult to complete, the three playthroughs do make it a little time consuming. If you happen to miss some of the gameplay achievements, chapter select means that you can easily reload a chapter, therefore nothing is truly missable.
Escape a Scrab by the skin of your loins -- attempt #62
Of course, we couldn't review a HD remake without commenting on the game's graphics. The entire game has been rendered in 3D at a beautiful 1080p. There is stark contrast between the bright lights of RuptureFarms' advertising and its bloody, grimy industrial innards. You can pick out the individual leaves that are blowing out of the vents in Paramonia. You sometimes regret that you have to rush headlong through some areas of the game. Special care has also been afforded to the game's cutscenes. At the very least, these have been remastered and extended with new footage. In some cases, there are new cutscenes that depict Abe's transition between chapters in a different light. See if you can spot the differences.
SummaryOddworld New 'n' Tasty
tells a story of a world that contains a great amount of injustice, from the persecution of defenceless creatures to the tyranny of people who hold far too much power. It's a story that is just as relevant now as it was sixteen years ago. However, the title is also an ode to gaming from a forgotten era, when campaigns took a while to complete and violence wasn't the main objective. With a lick of HD paint and tweaks to gameplay to accommodate modern gamers, this title has found its place amidst the new generation of consoles and there is absolutely no reason why this type of game couldn't reclaim its crown. Long live Oddworld
The reviewer spent just over ten hours (or 11.5 hours depending on whether you believe the save file or the leaderboard) rescuing many, many Mudokons from RuptureFarms on Hard difficulty without the use of this new-fangled Quiksave. This earned her 31 of the game's 36 achievements, at which point she is now starting to practice the art of speedrunning and being evil so that she can earn the remaining five. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purpose of this review.