Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (PlayStation) Review

By Ofisil 23.09.2017

Review for Oddworld: Abe

The original PlayStation is considered by many the last great classic console, and how could it not, when it managed to provide such an impressive variety of quality titles. From marvellous continuations of franchises like with Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VII, to new series like Crash Bandicoot or Silent Hill, it was a fine time for gamers. One of those fantastic originals was Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssee - a Prince of Persia-esque cinematic platformer, of all genres, making its enormous success even more bizarre, since this wasn't exactly the first choice for most people, especially back then. Long story short, this was and is still great stuff, and here's why…

The turbo-capitalistic Glukkons have a problem. Their farms will soon run out of animals to cut to pieces, and therefore, run out of a product to sell. The solution? Well, why not making some tasty, tasty popsicles by slaughtering those frail Mudokon slaves? Fortunately, one of them overheard this plan, and in a burst of pure heroism decided to scram! …And thus began a challenging odyssey; an odyssey that's, without a single doubt, odd.

The aptly-named Oddworld is, undoubtedly, one of the most finely-crafted in the realm of video games, as the developer's extreme dedication to its artistic approach shines in every single pixel of this adventure. From the dark and prison-like industrial complex of the factory areas, to the jungles that can be found outside, this is a place with a strong "heart;" a place that genuinely feels as if it is real, despite its alien look, making the player want to explore and learn more about it.

The creatures that dwell in here have flawless animation and a striking design, the pre-rendered backgrounds are extremely atmospheric, and the ambient music fits like a glove to each area… and at the centre of it all, Abe. This wimpy, strange, and, in all honesty, ugly creature, is, at the same time, extremely lovable, and, like with almost everything here, feels like a real breathing creature. Your mission? Help him with saving the rest of the Mudokons - all 99 of them!

Screenshot for Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee on PlayStation

Of course, this being a so-called cinematic platformer, it doesn't play like a Super Mario game. Abe must be carefully moved around, his every action planned beforehand, and each button press be super precise and correctly timed. Our hero is a weakling who can't jump more than one or two meters, can't fall from too high, and isn't very fond of bullets… or claws, or sharp machine parts, or… you get the idea.

Therefore, yes, Abe's Oddysee needs a calm and steady hand, and, most importantly, patience, as it doesn't hold any punches. While definitely a platformer, this also plays like a puzzler, so it's not just about pulling off the move, but thinking what move should that be. Thankfully, the level design is such that each segment, no matter how hard, is also immensely fun… as long as you don't mind repeating some of them.

In all honesty, this piece of software has only one serious flaw - its checkpoint system. Should you be able to save anywhere, anytime? No, of course not. However, the way checkpoints have been implemented is, a lot of the time, insanely irritating, as you can lose all your progress in area 'A' just because you've made a mistake in area 'B,' instead of simply having a checkpoint between those two, and thus not needing to pull of some of your hair to cool off.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee on PlayStation

It's easy to forgive this game for its annoying save mechanic, though, because this is truly an enjoyable ride, which constantly rewards you for using your grey matter. One example is the tiny, yet awesome cast of enemies. Each of the few available have their own unique behaviour; a behaviour that must carefully be observed, and thus taken advantage off. The AI is not super-complex or anything, yet it's actually extremely effective in providing the necessary challenge.

Bear in mind, however, that Abe's Oddysee's gameplay doesn't simply revolve around jumping around, pulling levels, carefully tip-toeing from dark spot to dark spot to avoid enemies, and just that. Thankfully, Abe is much more than meets the eye. For starters, he can actually talk, and thus issue orders to his fellow Mudokon buddies, like 'follow me,' 'wait,' and… fart(!); orders that will help him help them, and have a laugh while at it.

Do innovations stop there? No, as our puny hero can also possess enemies and control them, again while being mindful of the way the rest of the bestiary acts around them. Furthermore, all creatures actually have their own set of "words" that can be used, something that, once again, isn't here just for show, or for laughs and giggles, but an important element of the gameplay, as many areas require solving puzzles through possessed foes.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee on PlayStation

Let it be mentioned once again: this is a tough journey, and, since the save system isn't very merciful, it can also be highly aggravating at times. Furthermore, due the nature of the game, expect lots of trial-and-error, as well as lots of lost progress because of one tiny misstep. It's all doable, though, and, as mentioned extremely fun, to the point that most will try to do a perfect run on their first freaking play-through.

There are 99 slaved Mudokons to rescue - less than 50 lead to the bad ending, more than that to the good one. Needless to say, however, that those who'll want to lay their eyes on the latter will "suffer," especially if they don't want to leave any prisoners behind. Of course, choosing to do so requires facing puzzles much harder than average, and lots of careful exploration, as the areas in which these can be found are usually hidden in the craziest of places.

…But it's fun - extremely fun, with everything, from the marvellous audio-visuals and the show-not-tell narrative, to the simple yet deep gameplay mechanics contributing to that. Simply put, there's not a single thing to point at here. Instead, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a mixture of near-perfect elements that, combined, result in a near-perfect experience. You call yourself a gamer? Try this out now!

Screenshot for Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee on PlayStation

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The only people that should probably not play Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee are those who simply hate puzzle-platformers of this kind. Note the word 'probably,' though, as this is an adventure that's so atmospheric, immersive, visually stunning, enjoyably challenging, and innovative, that maybe even those should give it a try.

Developer

Oddworld Inhabitants

Publisher

GT Interactive

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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