Towards the end of the last century, gaming took a huge jump and what was once deemed impossible finally became reality. Gone were the days of the SNES and Amiga; no, the age of 3D was about to begin and take the world by storm. Within this new age, Sony’s PlayStation swiftly grasped the crown from its predecessors with a huge library of exclusive games. 3D platform games were some of the most popular, with Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon rivalling Mario and Sonic at the time despite the slight hiccups they had transitioning platform gameplay from 2D to 3D. However, players from the time will remember a third well-known PlayStation mascot; Abe, from Oddworld.
Despite the fact these games were also available on PC, many PlayStation consoles were bought to be able to play through Abe’s Odyssey and sequel Abe’s Exodus. With a strangely dark sci-fi world and black humour aplenty, this fledgeling series captured the hearts of many. The gameplay combined “modern,” 3D graphics with 2.5D gameplay and a set camera angle. The player would guide Abe as he ran from screen to screen rescuing his fellow oddballs, using his psychic abilities to control others and manipulate the world around him. The majority of the game was spent avoiding conflict –as the enemies were often far too powerful for Abe to handle alone – and solving environmental puzzles. Lauded by many, the pair were deemed instant classics, and mouths watered for a third entry in the series…
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was that sequel. Originally destined for the PlayStation 2, it was poached during development and was eventually released as a launch title for the original XBOX. Ditching the 2.5D elements of the series and attempting full 3D, the title fell into the same traps as many others in this transition. Now, 19 years later, it’s arrived on the Switch. Here’s my thoughts on it in 2020.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee picks up where Exodus left off; Abe has escaped from the Glukkons with the rest of his kind (The Mudokons) and is rightfully considered a hero. Unfortunately, the Glukkons have continued to harvest other species alongside the Vykkers and have driven a species known as the Gabbits to near extinction. Munch, the last Gabbit, has been captured and Abe is tasked with rescuing him from Vykker’s Lab. The two main characters eventually unite in a quest to rescue the last remaining Gabbit eggs – known as Gabbiar – and to save another species; the Fuzzles. The plot is very interesting, tackling a variety of themes through a dark-yet-hilarious lens. The struggle against the capitalist Glukkons and their insatiable, world-devouring ways still resonates strongly, as do the many environmentalist and spiritual themes. It’s a game which contrasts incredibly intelligent design and commentary with toilet humour, and it still holds up! The weird, nasty, goofy, horrific slapstick world is as fantastic as ever and is still as charming as ever. Unfortunately, this is where my praise for the game ends.
The gameplay is reminiscent of all early 2000s 3D platformers. As both Abe and Munch, you run around the varied areas solving puzzles, manipulating enemies and rescuing creatures. Abe continues to use his abilities to possess and control other creatures, whilst Munch’s introduction brings swimming, electrical surges and the ability to control machines into the mix. The characters are controlled separately, but in later stages, they can be switched between for some fun puzzle-solving. There are so many great ideas in this mix which could have led to a fantastic game; hell, many games have since used similar mechanics to great effect. Unfortunately, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee struggles to take advantage of these thanks to its many, many issues…
This is the part I was dreading, as I LOVE the Oddworld series, but here we go. Whilst the controls and level design may have been considered acceptable in 2001, I can’t understand why. Both main characters control like absolute rubbish; Abe’s controls are slippery and imprecise, with both running and jumping feeling oversensitive, whilst Munch is incredibly slow and his swimming sections are just a pain. I found myself slipping around all over the place and never felt fully in control of my character, which is a platformer is a death sentence. Ledges are far too easy to fall off and it almost feels like a gamble whether you’ll go where you need to or die trying!
Another control issue is interaction. For some reason, the developers decided to map all the interactions to the same button. In an early section, you are asked to pick up a Mudokon next to a number of other objects, yet because many actions are controlled by the same button it becomes a lucky dip exactly what Abe will do! This continues throughout and is incredibly frustrating, and could easily have been fixed in either 2012 remaster or this new version, but wasn’t. Finally, the camera controls just as badly as you’d expect from a game of this age, and this is not helped by the narrow, cramped environments which litter the world. Honestly, these are some of the worst controls I’ve encountered in a game ever.
Graphically…well it looks like a game from 2001. Yes, it’s been spruced up to a degree, but I don’t think enough has been done to consider this an HD experience. Yes, this version has been ported well and runs at 60fps, but that doesn’t excuse the low visual quality of the release. The textures are consistently muddy and the animations are bizarre, almost seeming to skip at times. Loading screens, menus and hud elements are blocky and low-quality and don’t feel updated whatsoever. As a result, it just feels like a very cheap “update” on the original. The creature designs, the world designs, they’re all so interesting! The Oddworld universe is a fantastic one full of potential, but unfortunately, this release really doesn’t do it justice.
Voices are performed well and portray characterisations well, but I found myself muting the game more often than not when outside a cutscene. You WILL hear the same samples over and over again when controlling Mudokons, and this annoyed me to no end. It doesn’t help that there is very little music to be found either. Some sounds are fun and interesting – the fart sound never grows old – but most are likely to be an acquired taste.
Overall, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was a huge letdown to me. It was seen as a triumph in 2001, but it just doesn’t hold up in the same way many other 90s platformers do in 2020. Don’t get me wrong, the Oddworld itself is still compelling as ever – The first two games in the series have aged well because they were good examples of puzzle platformers at the time and had learnt from the mistakes of games which came before it – but Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’s interpretation of 3D gameplay comes from the start of the 3D era and just feels dated at this point. I genuinely cannot recommend picking this up unless you have personal nostalgia for it or are desperate to play the whole Oddworld series. Even then, you should wait for a steep discount, as the current price of £26.99 is ridiculous for a nearly 20-year-old game.
You can purchase Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’ here for £26.99
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Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee
How would you feel if you broke your leg in a scrab trap, were abducted by soulless scientists, had an alien device implanted in your skull, and found out your race had been hunted to extinction? It's up to you to help guide Munch in efforts to rescue fellow test creatures. These critters will be forever loyal to Munch and in turn enable his escape . Once free, Munch teams up with Abe and together they are guided by the wisdom of the Almighty Raisin. They are informed as to how to accomplish their goals, but in order to do so, they must work together. For Munch, his dream is to bring back his species from the brink of extinction. For Abe, it is to rescue his Mudokon buddies. Using special powers, cool power-ups, and other special abilities to deliver payback to the Vykkers, Abe and Munch reclaim the last gabbit eggs on Oddworld, which have been packaged in a can of gabbiar. May Odd help you!
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 26.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut