When going back to games released in the PlayStation One era of video games it’s hard not to notice the vast creativity and imagination that went into many of the titles. In a current era of gaming that is dominated by annualized franchises that basically offer the same game with different paint each year, it’s crazy to think back to a time where games with true imagination and ingenuity were plentiful rather than scarce.
That’s what makes it all the more welcoming to have a game from that era get the remake treatment. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysey came out for the original PlayStation and PC back in 1997, and today it has been completely remade from the ground up in a new version called Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. The creators have, thankfully, left the core design of the game untouched, and instead focused on tweaking little gameplay elements and giving the graphics a much-needed overhaul.
This unique little side-scroller stars an alien named Abe, who is a pathetic little alien belonging to a race called Mudokans that are enslaved as workers in a factory called Rupture Farms. As Abe wanders the halls of Rupture Farms one night he stumbles across a conversation with the rulers of the factory, and in his eavesdropping he learns very unsettling information. The leaders of Rupture Farms plan to create a new kind of food to sell, and it will be made with the meat of Abe and all of his fellow Mudokans!
Alas, this leaves Abe with two options:
- become a meal
- run for his life
After careful consideration, Abe goes with option 2 and decides to flee Rupture Farms and rescue as many of his Mudokans as he can along the way. Of course, the environment of Rupture Farms and all other locations throughout the game are swarming with enemies waiting to shoot him, boulders waiting to crush him and swinging blades waiting to chop him up. Abe’s quest to save the Mudokans and stop Rupture Farms isn’t going to be easy, but he will soon realize that it is his destiny
New ‘n’ Tasty‘s main goal is to present Abe’s Oddysey as a game that keeps up, graphically, with the game’s of 2014, and developer Just Add Water performed wonderfully in that regard. This game’s artistic style is gorgeous in its own right, but utilizing the Unity Engine with full HD makes this one of the most visually-pleasing side-scrollers yet. There are plenty of great backdrops in the game, from the ominous factory to the lush forests and night sky in the world beyond Rupture Farms, and each environment is richly detailed.
It’s the level design in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty that makes it continually engaging and challenging to play the whole way through. From the very beginning you will have to do your best to tiptoe, jump and roll your way past obstacles and enemies, with many of these operations being time sensitive. Many of these levels are so challenging that they put a lot of modern platformers to shame, showing just how much more difficult games were back in the ’90s. This game will not hold your hand one bit, and that’s part of what makes it so enthralling.
Of course, just getting through the levels is only half the battle, as you also have the secondary objective of rescuing as many Mudokans as you can. As you proceed through the levels it is up to you to get the attention of other Mudokans and then command them to follow you if the coast is clear or wait if it isn’t. This is where the true challenge comes in, as ensuring not only your own safety but the safety of the others is always a tricky juggling act. If the enemies ever become aware of your presence they will often take it out on the other poor Mudokans, so you must time your actions very precisely to come out on the other side successfully.
Luckily for gamers who aren’t quite as adept at retro platfromers, New ‘n’ Tasty not only offers plenty of checkpoints but also a quicksave feature, meaning that you can save anywhere you want as long as you are on solid ground and not alerting other enemies. This was a vital feature for me in my playthrough, as many times I would have to get through a small section of a level and then quicksave to avoid having to do it all over again. Sometimes the game can have a very trial and error kind of feeling, which is remedied greatly due to the generous saving options that weren’t as present in the original version of the game.
The one aspect where the game isn’t so forgiving is the controls. Even though the game controls quite well, a lot of its challenges require pin-point accuracy, and being precise can be very finicky with the analog stick serving as your sole means of movement. The force at which you push the analog stick controls how quickly Abe moves, so when you are in very tight areas trying to avoid bombs and have to move quickly the controls will often do things you didn’t intend. Due to the fact that you will more than likely be doing over sections of a stage several times, it can be very aggravating when you failed because of an unexpected movement.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is as good of a remake of a classic game that any could have asked for. Just Add Water has breathed new life into this world with beautiful graphics and a respect for the original design that makes it feel the same and new all at once. The game is definitely more difficult than your average platformer, but thanks to the new generous save system and the sense of satisfaction you get from finally overcoming its many trials it never gets to the point where you just want to give up on it. This is a game that was designed in a much different era of video games that now has a modern polish on its surface, and its the balance of both that makes it an unquestionable success.