Hey all it's time again to go back and look at some of them old gems from the previous generations of gaming. today's game in question will be Oddworld's Abe's Odyssey.
History: Oddworld inhabitants was founded in 1994 by Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna. The company would go on to produce the Oddworld quintology which currently consists of Abe's Odyssey and Munch's Odyssey. The company would go on to release several side stories and games based in the series though not part of the quintology itself such as Abe's Exodus and Stranger's Wrath. The company also has its fair share of scrapped projects such as Munch's Exodus and The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Clot some of which had at least made it into the development process. Currently Oddworld have plans for a CGI movie called Citizen Siege and apparently working on a new title though quoted by Maxis co-founder Jeff Braun saying "...They're such a talented group of people and I really trust their ability to create compelling content however, slow production schedule could make it "years" before the game sees release". Many of the first Oddworld games were on the PS1 and PC format but would later be bought my Microsoft and produce several games for the Xbox.
Story: You are Abe, a muddoken who works for the glukkon conglomerate who own many different businesses around Oddworld, as for Abe you work at Rupture Farms Oddworld's biggest meat processing plant. Though you are called an employee the correct term would be slave to say the least. Whilst working late one night at Rupture Farms you sumble across a board meeting with the boss, Molluck the glukkon. Molluck and the board are talking about the recent financial crisis that has struck Rupture Farms as one of the company's best selling product Meech Munchies has gone out of production due to the fact Meeches have been farmed to extinction however, Molluck being the business glukkon he is has already got plans for a replacement product, as for what the mystery meat good is? it's YOU! that's right Rupture Farm's new product the Muddoken Pop is due for launch and where better to get an ample supply of mudokken meat, than the slaves themselves. you are horrified by what you have just witnessed and flee from the scene but not before getting the attention of a guard at the meeting and thus a chase ensues. after running away from the guard you plan your escape from the factory, but what about the other 99 co-workers here that are unaware of Mollucks intentions? well it is your job to free them of course, remember Rupture Farms has a strict escapee policy...
The game is a cross between a Puzzle and Platform genre, though the game plays strictly like a platform game where you guide yourself around a level, the game requires a large amount of puzzle solving being the rescue of your fellow workers. The game has several unique elements one of which being that it was one of the first games to use a gamespeak system where the game allowed you to interact with your surrounding by speaking to the games characters. The puzzles in the game ranged in difficulty from something as simple as luring a guard away so a muddoken can escape to as difficult as leading several escapees through meat grinders and guard patrols. The game gives you several techniques to help you on your quest throughout the game from simple things such as running and jumping to possession where you can take control of certain enemies and use them to your will such as the guard sligs. when in possession of another one can interact with the surroundings like they could when they were Abe though each creature and person has their own language so to speak. Though mind controlling sligs to do your bidding i personally found a lot of enjoyment of going round and beating up, shooting and leading muddokens down holes and into meat grinders however, when you get to the end of the game it's not so forgiving on you for killing your fellow comrades. The game is can be enjoyable at times but can also be frustrating when you are trying to rescue all 99 muddokens and you miss one early in the game which can lead to a complete restart, also the game can before increasingly annoying as some puzzles are long and strenuous and with no quick save function (which would later arrive in Abe's Exodus) it can leave you to feel as if you just want to throw the damn game out of the window.
Graphics The game's graphics for their time are decent, the characters and obstacles are sprites* which the game did get slated for as the market at the time was in demand of more 3D titles and thus lead the game to be slightly overlooked (i only knew about the game because my uncle had it). Though the game was using sprites this didn't stop the developers of doing an excellent job of designing locations that well suited the nature of the game as well as the fantastic animations that would accompany the sprites throughout the game. The games movie sequences are well animated and bring an alien feel to the table when you play through the game and also helps expand the plot of the game as it progresses so in a sense it act's as a Macguffin.
Music and Sounds
The games musical score is fantastic to say the least and well fitting too, the game has numerous themes through out the game, from having an industrial sounding theme when you are inside of Rupture Farms to a more ambient and tribal feeling music for when you are in exotic locations such as Scrabania. I also praise the game for its use of voice acting and sound effects used my the various inhabitants of Oddworld, from the coercing talk of muddokens and the bzzt noises of the sligs, to the wails and roars of the Scrabs and Paramites.
The game's controls were well adapted for their respective platforms though i grew playing the PS1 version so i am more accustomed to those controls though saying that when i last played the game it was on the PC and getting used to the changes was not difficult as the controls can be changed to suit your needs on the PC version and can also be wired to a game pad should you require it. The control's are good though at time when you need exact inputs it can feel somewhat stiff and lead to many countless deaths though this is partially to blame for them their are hundreds are reasons why you might die countless times (stress anyone). The game's controls on a whole are decent and both the PC and PS1 adaptation of the game allow you to use all of the games commands to their full potential majority of the time.
Overall In my opinion this is one of my favorite games from my childhood, the combination of platformer and puzzler makes for a great and entertaining game. I would also like to note i played this game retroactively after playing Abe's Exodus which at the time was on 2 discs and had a lot more depth and functions. Though admittedly i have got to breaking point with this game in the past once you complete the part you are stuck on their is such a feeling of relief, though you can play through the game as a jerk and kill all your friends but you will get your comeuppance in the end. It would be nice to see Oddworld Inhabitants expand on this Quintology they seem to mention a lot though i personally haven't played Munch's Odysee it was slated quite a bit for its adaptation into a 3d game. On a whole the game provides a good challenge and also moments of anger and humor, as for how the game ends? you should go out and by the stinking game :) **
Score: 80% - Very Good
Well thanks for reading, again i hope you enjoyed it as much as i did writing it, i will probably do a review of Abe's Exodus at some point as it is well worthy of one, as for when i will do that, who's knows and i am afraid i lost who along time ago so you will have to wait and see.
Notes * - Sprites is a term used for flat pictures which represent an object in a game, Several compiled sprites can usually constitute for a characters movements and interaction in the a game such as running animations, jumping and so forth. Sprites are most common in 2D games.
** - If you've played Abe's Exodus you might remember that line
P.S. Abe's Odyssey and Abe's Exodus can both be purchased on Steam for roughly $10-$15, the games can also be obtained from websites such as eBay and Amazon though you might be a bit less likely to get them, personally i would suggest steam but that's your call.