Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, the first game in the Oddworld series, is one of my favourite games of all time. It’s one of the few PlayStation One games I constantly revisit fairly regularly in my life. I was young when I played it on my uncle’s console, and it was the first time I had encountered something with quite so much depth and scope to the world and it was truly entrancing. For the time it looked phenomenal, and the chunky movement, taxing puzzles, and unique possession mechanic stroked pleasure centres in my brain in a way nothing else has really replicated.
The game puts you in control of Abe, just another enslaved Mudokon worker at Rupture Farms, a meat processing company that makes tasty meat treats for Oddworld, primarily using the meat of Scrabs and Paramites, and previously Meeches before they were made extinct. He stumbles upon a board meeting of the executive Glukkons where the RuptureFarms CEO reveals plans to curtail the profit loss of the lack of animals by introducing a new line of meat snacks made from Mudokons. He is discovered and hunted by Sligs as he makes his escape, having to rescue as many fellow Mudokons as possible along the way. It’s pretty dark, but also has a sense of humour. It strikes a good mix that has stuck with me since.
There’s an ambition to the whole design of the game that was somewhat infectious, and I used to think about the world and just the experience of playing the game mechanically constantly at school, drawing out my own levels and that sort of thing. I got a book, High Score by Johnny L. Wilson, that included design sketches for one of the game’s harder puzzles. It was the first game that really got me thinking about the design side of things, how games slotted together, and those design sketches have stuck with me ever since.
I also dreamed about being able to play the game on a portable console. That dream has become a reality with the PlayStation Vita, which I truly feel is an underrated system. I think the perfectionism and detail that went into it makes it one of the least aged PSOne games of all time. I have to admit though, it does suffer from some small framerate issues on the handheld.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a great new version of the game, but I feel that the original still holds up, and it was great to see Just Add Water and Oddworld Inhabitants displaying both side by side at their EGX booth this year. New ‘n’ Tasty has hopefully been a great way for new people to discover the game, and experience it with a little bit more lenient modern gameplay, but I think they are both pretty great games in their own rights. New ‘n’ Tasty is a remake that really respects the original game, and fans of the original. For a simple reason — most everyone involved in it is a fan of the games, from those that worked on the original to the new team. I can’t wait to see how they update Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus.
This isn’t quite a review of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee or Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. It’s mostly just an explanation about why I love them. No doubt a lot of people will have seen them or heard of them and not played them, just looking at screenshots the game has a unique feel about it. The first two Oddworld games and the remake of the first one are truly phenomenal gameplay experiences, and you should really check them out if you haven’t yet — you won’t forget them.