Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! PS4 Review
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants Developer: Just Add Water Genre: Puzzle Platformer Players: 1-2
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, PS3, Wii U, Vita
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! is a quirky little cinematic platform game, which sees alien Abe, a Mudokon who works at Rupture Farms, a meat processing plant, on a quest to free his fellow slaves from their evil boss, Molluck the Glukkon. New ‘n’ Tasty is a remake of the original game, Abe’s Oddysee, which was released on the PlayStation 1 in 1997.
You control Abe through 2.5D sidescrolling levels – or Zulags – of varying difficulty, with the main goal being to collect as many Mudokon slaves as possible, and setting them free through a bird portal.
To do this, Abe must make his way past many obstacles, most of which consist of patrolling guards, known as Sligs. Abe has many skills he can use in order to successfully complete his mission, his main ability being that he can possess the Sligs. To possess a Slig, Abe uses a special Chant, and then he can use that possessed Slig to his own advantage, killing other Sligs, commanding beastly dogs to attack other Sligs, and tricking guards into letting Abe pass through closed-off areas that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise. There is also something very satisfying about blowing up a Slig once Abe has finished with him!
Other skills that Abe comes equipped with is his agility, which helps him to roll through tight spaces and jump up to higher platforms in order to escape any hunting, trigger-happy Sligs. Abe can also use steam vents to keep cover and avoid any Sligs, and time his movement, and he can also stealthily top-toe past any Sligs that are sleeping.
Abe can also transform into a being known as a Shryskull; upon freeing the Mudokons through the portal, the Shryskull is charged up, and when unleashed, Abe destroys everything around him, regardless of what it is. This skill becomes very significant later on in the game.
Other obstacles that hinder Abe’s quest include motion sensor screens, floating mine bombs, and specially designed machines that prevent Abe from using his possession ability. These machines can easily be displaced by a well-aimed bomb, which Abe can collect from a bomb dispensing machine.
The difficulty of the game can change quite dramatically. Even early on in the game and during the tutorial, the game jumps quickly from being easy to hard, with levels being packed to the nines with sensors, Sligs, alien-eating plants and motion sensor screens. The difficulty has been toned down from the original, though the levels can still be merciless at times, and for less experienced or casual players looking for a smooth and straightforward experience, it may become too frustrating to play.
Furthermore, another problem is with the quick save and checkpoints. Should a player want to save their progress using the quick save, and then return to the level but lose, Abe is placed back at a checkpoint, as opposed to the last place where the player saved. The player could have completed almost a whole mission, saved towards the end, and if they lose again, they will instantly spawn back at a checkpoint earlier on in the mission. For players that keep losing, it can become quite infuriating having to reload from the menu all the time. With the inclusion of a quick save feature, checkpoints may not have been completely necessary.
The overall feel of the game is one that is very charming. The game has decent level design, though the environments are nothing special – even though Abe is an alien, his world is nothing exceptional, with his surroundings being quite forgettable. Much more effort has been made into creating offbeat and memorable characters, with Abe speaking in a squeaky tone of voice, becoming instantly likable with his friendly manner, childish humour and determination to free his fellow Mudokons. The Sligs are also memorable, and even though each Slig looks like they have been copied and pasted, they are not just run-of-the-mill guards and spout some very amusing dialogue as Abe takes over their bodies. Even the Mudokon slaves have some humorous lines. The game has very few main characters, and there is not a lot of variety of enemies, though the characters that are present are appealing. The only character that isn’t particularly note-worthy is Mullock the Glukkon, with his personality being one of a stereotypical, fat-cat villain.
The game is one that takes itself too seriously and yet not too seriously at all. There is a good mix of humour and darker moments in the storyline, with one of two endings being quite a surprise. The characters, whilst mostly shallow, are still very endearing and even though the difficulty can spike quite randomly, the game is still very much worthy of at least a couple of playthroughs, if not at least to try and find all 299 Mudokon slaves, just for the bragging rights!