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Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee New N Tasty Review

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Having only re-entered the games industry in 2010 after partnering with British indie developer – Just Add Water, Oddworld: New N Tasty marks Oddworld Inhabitants first full project since 2005’s Oddworld: Strangers Wrath. Taking the form of an Abes Oddysee remake built entirely from scratch, making use of new technologies, new graphics capabilities, and more modern games design, it was a very bold decision to re-create such a revered experience. The best part of my childhood was spent playing the Oddworld games, and I was heavily invested in the characters and the game world, much like most gamers that were around in the PSX era. From what started off as a cult following, soon broke out into something much bigger, especially with the partnership with Microsoft that saw the Oddworld franchise achieve another lease of life with the then-powerful Xbox original. With only developing a few HD Oddworld remasters prior to New N Tasty’s development, Just Add Water had a lot of pressure on their backs to deliver on a quality Oddworld experience, and most importantly, to do plenty of justice to the original classic that inspired a whole generation of gaming. So the question is, have they delivered?

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The answer is: yes. Oddworld: New N Tasty is everything you would expect from a quality remake, successfully bringing the story into the new generation of gaming, and fixing any problems with the original gameplay along the way. Re-telling the exact same storyline as it did in 1997 (albeit with much jazzier cutscenes), New N Tasty places you in the shoes of Abe, a Mudokon slave working for an evil meat corporation called ‘Rupture Farms’. After discovering that the company executives are suffering a decline in their meat produce sales and intend to turn the Mudokon race into their next ‘new and tasty’ product, Abe decides to escape the facility and try to save as many of the Mudokon slaves as possible. What follows is a lengthy side-scrolling adventure that spans multiple levels and environments that all throw new ideas and dangers into the mix.

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Saving as many Mudokons along the way is key to progressing further, and most importantly, completing the game with the good ending. Players are encouraged to save as many Mudokons as possible, and there are a plethora of secret areas that go off the beaten track that you should be searching for. With 299 of them to save, you have to put in some serious effort and care into saving as many as possible, especially when they are more vulnerable than Abe is. As in the original, you must use your Mudokon chant ability to open bird portals that will take your fellow slaves to safety. Chanting is not just used to save Mudokons, but is used as your only constant weapon. By chanting you gain the ability to possess enemies that are close to you, allowing you to play as them and access new areas, solve puzzles, throw switches, or simply lay waste to other enemies in the area. It’s an inventive mechanic that always finds use in fresh scenarios.

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Communication is your other primary ability, being able to talk to fellow Mudokons and get them to follow your commands. This is all carried out by using ‘Gamespeak’, a mechanic that allows you to say certain commands/phrases that characters around you will react to. It’s not just a way of barking orders at enslaved Mudokons however, as it does also lend itself to several puzzle solutions too, more specifically when you are in control of Sligs (the game’s most common enemy), and when communicating with tribal Mudokons. It’s another example of this games impeccable design, where the player is given a few simple mechanics that all have multiple different uses, and blend seamlessly with each other to create a fluid experience.

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The first major thing you will notice upon starting the game is how gorgeous it all looks. The original game still looks really nice, even by today’s standards (albeit the low resolution), but New N Tasty is in a whole new league. It’s great to see how well the memorable environments have been transferred from 2D, to full 3d environments. Each and every environment is filled with character and charm, Areas feel as though they are filled with life, with objects and environments in the distance containing a lot of activity and looking just as delicious as everything in the foreground. The art will undoubtedly be familiar to anyone who has played the original, and for anyone who hasn’t played the game before, it will be instantly memorable, leaving you in awe at how rich the game world is. Characters look equally as good too, with their designs still just as startling as they were back in the 90’s, and every bit as memorable.

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Another major difference from the original release that you will notice immediately is the overhauled controls, with movement in particular feeling very different. Gone is using the D-Pad for movement, instead using the left analog stick as a replacement. It might not sound like that big of a deal on paper, but in practice it feels very different, and it does lessen Abe’s accuracy when moving through environments and escaping from danger. For the first 30 minutes of playing the game, you are likely to feel frustration from these controls, struggling to use them smoothly, and often fumbling when trying to attempt simple platforming. Thankfully however, you will warm to this change and it will soon enough feel very natural. It also helps that New N Tasty is far more forgiving in regards to the platforming this time around, with it being less about pin-point accuracy, and more about speed, fitting well with the games shift to a much faster pace.

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Instead of the side-scrolling gameplay fitting to small singular screens for each different area like it did in the original, New N Tasty features a dynamic camera that follows the player around through continuous areas, and dramatically pans in out to suit the various different vistas, and level designs. This inclusion hasn’t just effected the games presentation of course, but the levels themselves, with elements of them having to be reworked to fit this major change. Fortunately, this idea hasn’t spoiled the gameplay at all, and more-or-less everything from the original is still as fans would remember. Hell, there are even some new extra areas thrown into the mix too, as well as many more Mudokons to rescue, so no matter how familiar you are with the classic game, there’s still something fresh to experience.

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Perhaps one of the most memorable features of the original was its unrelenting, brutal learning-curve, that was made even harder by Abe’s vulnerability to any damage. The game still retains this as an option, but now different difficulty levels exist as a way to accommodate for players that are put-off by the hardcore nature. These difficulty options provide the player with health, meaning that enemy encounters are less dangerous, and one shot kills aren’t anything to worry about. While this is a nice inclusion for more casual audiences, Oddworld: New N Tasty feels at home amongst the harder difficulty, with its unique blend of trial and error that punishes you for not playing by the games rules. Each enemy and obstacle in the game has its own behaviour, and it’s up to you to learn these, and exploit any weaknesses or changes in their patterns to proceed. If you die in this game, 99% of the time it’s your own fault, so despite how frustrated about the game you may become, you’ve only get yourself to blame. There’s just that 1% that lingers, with some areas that require sheer luck rather than a solution to overcome. To make things less stressful on the players mental health, the ‘Quick Save’ and ‘Quick Load’ features originally found in Abe’s Exodus (the sequel to Abe’s Oddysee) are present, and couldn’t be any easier to use. With just the click of the PS4 touch pad, your progress is saved. It takes a split-second for the game to save, and the same amount of time to load the save file too, ensuring that the games quick pacing is kept up, even after countless deaths and failed puzzle solutions. It really is a saving grace, and you will often rely on it as to avoid any repeated sections, and controller-throwing anger.

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Verdict

Oddworld: New N Tasty is a remarkable effort from a brilliantly talented team of developers. This really is the epitome of video game remakes, showcasing exactly how you pull it off with exceptional grandeur. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s absolutely frustrating, and it’s for all these reasons that we love it even more. Even after 17 years, Abe’s Oddysee remains a true classic, and Oddworld remains as relevant and as interesting as it ever did. This is a game that will not only appeal to those who played the original, but for those who have never stepped afoot inside the realm of Oddworld, and that’s truly a credit to the exceptional design found within.

Positives:

  • Stunning graphics.
  • Revitalised gameplay for the new generation.
  • A fantastic adventure.
  • Abe is still such a loveable protagonist.
  • Smooth controls and a ramped-up pace.
  • Loads more Mudokons to find, and some brand new areas.
  • Quick Save and Quick Load features are a life-saver.

Negatives:

  • A small handful of areas rely too much on luck than puzzle solving.

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Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

Rating:
5/5
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