If you were gaming through the original PlayStation era, then it's a safe bet you encountered the Oddworld universe. It's been a while and our memories aren't what they were, so let's recap the premise of the first game of the series to be released - Abe’s Oddysee.
This sees our hero Abe attempting to escape the enormous food processing plant, where works as a poorly treated slave, when he discovers the company directors have a scheme to use their workforce as filling in a new range of meat products. He struggled out of the factory and into our hearts.
On his way out, the lovable Abe must save as many of his wretched colleagues as possible by guiding them to an escape route (if you don't make the effort to rescue enough of your kind you won't see the ‘good’ game ending). The game played out from a side-on view between impressively rendered cutscenes and was notable at the time for it’s groundbreaking graphics, head-scratching puzzles and humour (copious fart gags notwithstanding). The real innovation though was the ability to communicate with NPCs within the game through rudimentary yet endearing combo of speech and flatulence.
Fast forward four console generations and this cherished title has been treated to a much deserved makeover. Unlike so many of our beloved games from the past which have ‘enjoyed’ this honour, this tirle is still blessedly recognisable and it's great to see one of the most memorable games from the PlayStation handled with the respect and love it deserves.
Everything that made this title special back in the day is present and correct, but now it sparkles better than ever. The graphics have been overhauled just enough to make it feel current without overdoing things or altering the gameplay. 2D sprites and backgrounds have been brought to life via the gift of fully 3D environments. The new immersive environments add real depth to the rich world which now allows for some camera panning and zooming adding to the involvement more than ever.
Most players will be pleased to discover that the notoriously difficult puzzles haven't been made any easier with the added dimension.
For the uninitiated, the puzzles are varied and involve the use of everything from levers and chutes to Abe’s mind control abilities. The latter can be used to great effect when the gruff, squid faced guards obstruct progress.
In summary this is a charming update to an already fine game. It's a wonderful blend of old(ish) school gaming blended perfectly with current gen graphics. The Oddworld was set to be a huge series with a universe of characters and game genres. In the end, due to licensing and studio complications we only ever saw a handful of titles. It's pleasing to see the franchise surviving after the troubled developments and that they've chosen the first and best to update. Any fan of the series, and there are many, should own this game.
Article by Andy Pryer - Follow Andy on Twitter here @Clammylizard