Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Albert Lichi 02.05.2024

Review for Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X/S

Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition goes beyond being just a remake of Abe's Exoddus; it represents a substantial expansion of the original concept. Deviations in remakes are not unusual in the video game industry. On occasion, these changes can significantly enhance the existing content, particularly when guided by a discerning game director. The critical factor lies in whether the developers uphold the fundamental essence and core experience while building upon it. Final Fantasy VII Remake for instance, offers an entirely fresh gaming experience, departing significantly from its original form. This leads to a fundamental question: why embark on a game remake if the foundational elements are slated for a complete overhaul? Does Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition genuinely enhance the essence of Abe's Exoddus, or does it risk alienating the fan base that cherished the original for its unique qualities?

When Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition begins, longtime fans of Abe's Exoddus may find themselves feeling disoriented and blindsided. This remake takes significant creative liberties, resulting in sweeping changes throughout the entire game. The previously quirky and somewhat comedic tone, infused with elements of dark humour and surrealism, has undergone a dramatic transformation, adopting a more serious and melodramatic atmosphere.

Many of the beloved and iconic scenes from the original Abe's Exoddus have been replaced with entirely new concepts and a rewritten script. This transformation has a scope that can be likened to biblical proportions, as it narrates the epic journey of restoring the souls of deceased Mudokons and liberating the rest of Abe's kin by possessing the Glukkon CEOs and manipulating them into carrying out Abe's bidding.

The overarching storyline of Soulstorm remains faithful to that of Abe's Exoddus. While some changes, such as the inclusion of more emotionally charged scenes and enhanced direction for action sequences, are understandable and commendable, there are also numerous decisions that may be considered subpar. These largely relate to the shift in tone, which, in turn, affects the overall experience.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X/S

Abe's Exoddus was a 'cinematic' step-based platformer, offering players a deliberate and immersive experience. Abe's character was characterized by fluid, drawn-out animations that conveyed a palpable sense of weight. Every player action demanded commitment, creating a tense atmosphere as Abe could be defeated in a single hit. Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition departs from the cinematic step-based platformer style. Unfortunately, this genre has become increasingly rare, with modern audiences showing a preference for less methodical platformers. In Soulstorm, Abe's character moves at a much faster pace and possesses ninja-like agility. He can double-jump, withstand multiple hits, and execute acrobatic wall-jumps. Players can gather items to craft explosives and dangerous potions for harming Sligs, introducing a sense of absurdity and pointlessness to the experience. It comes off as very dissonant, like if Leonardo DiCaprio got a pie in the face in The Remnant.

Soulstorm's departure from the dark comedy aspect of the source material has a detrimental impact on the overall narrative. This shift makes it challenging to fully engage with the highly emotional and intense scenes. Players may find it difficult to take these moments seriously, especially after navigating through lengthy levels filled with comical antics involving a multitude of Mudokons who deliver one-liners. The pacing can be quite exhausting. Soulstorm's levels are notably time-consuming, often giving the impression of dragging on endlessly. This extended duration can serve as a distraction and disrupt immersion. On numerous occasions, what initially appears to be a suitable conclusion to a stage extends for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, presenting a significantly more tedious experience.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X/S

The flow of each stage in Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition varies significantly. At times, Abe must navigate stealthily past patrolling Sligs, while other instances require aiding numerous Mudokons or solving environmental puzzles. This diversity of gameplay scenarios provides a satisfying mix of challenges. However, a notable issue is that these scenarios tend to overstay their welcome.

Similar to the original game, Abe's mission involves rescuing Mudokons, but 'Soulstorm' significantly expands upon this aspect. With more than 1,400 Mudokons to save, players often face difficult choices, as it may be impossible to rescue them all during the first play through.

The stealth sequences in the game can be perplexing, as the behaviour of the Slig AI is inconsistent, and their hearing abilities do not always align with logic. These sections are tolerable in smaller doses, but what proves truly frustrating is the excessively loud and discordant alert music, which can best be described as aggressive industrial noise. While previous Oddworld games relied on ambient music, Soulstorm stands out by aiming for epic cinematic compositions.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X/S

The team at Oddworld Inhabitants has crafted an exceptionally impressive visuals reminiscent of a CGI movie. The attention to detail in character expressions and anatomy, particularly on the unique creatures of Oddworld, is unparalleled in Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition. The lighting effects and the reflection of firelight on filthy, rusted metallic surfaces contribute to setting the mood effectively. On the Series S, the game's visuals are pushed to their limits without compromising detail. The game maintains a stable 60 frames per second, and load times are impressively fast, resulting in a polished presentation.

At launch, Soulstorm suffered from numerous bugs and glitches, which impacted the overall experience. However, Oddworld Inhabitants has since improved the game significantly, addressing most of the issues. While some oddities may still occur, the game is now generally stable in its current state.

Screenshot for Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The transition from single-screen pre-rendered backgrounds to fully realized 3D environments has breathed new life into level design of Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition. Stages wrap around each other, utilizing added depth creatively. The expansive vistas of Oddworld's alien landscape look incredibly realistic, showcasing the capabilities of the Unity engine, which has evolved from a budget choice for hobbyists to a platform capable of rendering imagery on par with AAA Unreal Engine 4 titles. The clashing tones with the storytelling and gameplay are regrettable. The developers should have leaned more into the silliness of the premise instead of take itself so seriously. Being able to fart on command was a crucial pillar of Oddworld and seeing it gutted is utterly depressing.

Developer

Oddworld Inhabitants

Publisher

Oddworld Inhabitants

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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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