Game #36: Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! (2014)

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-17-43-19creator: Lorne Lanning, et al.
language: English
length: 15 levels
finished playing on: 4 November 2016

This is an updated version of Abe’s Oddysee, but I didn’t even know of its existence until recently. It’s a modernized and revamped version – the levels and story are all taken from the original game, but the graphics and style of the game have changed – it’s now a 2.5D game (3D graphics, 2D gameplay), with a side-scrolling window, instead of walking from one screen to the next as in the original.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Abe is an alien Mudokon, working in a meat factory, but he realizes that the evil corporate Glukkons have decided to cook him and his kind into a new kind of meat popsicle, so he has to save all the other Mudokons. He mostly has to sneak past the Slig guard with their guns, but he can also possess and blow them up in various ways.

Overall it’s not a bad update, especially as it allows me to play through the game again, which I haven’t done since that time five years ago. I’ve been more familiar with the sequel Abe’s Exoddus, in the past, but I’ve only played through Oddysee twice, and the levels still aren’t familiar to me, meaning that I’m going into the game almost blind.

Not quite, though. I know about secret areas and stuff that the game tries to hide from you near the beginning – unlike Exoddus, Oddysee didn’t reveal that you can possess Sligs until more than halfway through the game, for one thing. I imagine for a first-time player this would be a funny surprise, and something that would encourage you to play through the game again. As for the secret areas, I remember having a lot of trouble with these in Oddysee because of the lack of Quick-save feature, introduced in Exoddus and mercifully added into this game. But I still actually missed an embarrassing number of them, even having tried to use a guide to make sure I hadn’t.

The game and levels (this applies to the original too) progress nicely and naturally, compared to Exoddus. There’s a long and convoluted opening area, with multiple secret areas, which requires a lot of backtracking to complete fully – that’s a bit annoying, but it works well. But I also found myself thinking that the original games’ designers couldn’t help kind of repeating the same kind of structure in Exoddus – he gets out of the factory and then goes to two temples in order to gain the mysterious power that will allow him to rip the factory apart, and this is repeated in the sequel.

As for this updated version, the graphics are the main updated thing, but there is also a set of difficulty levels, meaning you can play a more lenient version where Abe isn’t killed in one shot (this was too weird for me, and I set it to Hard). Graphically it’s brighter, but less textured, unless you switch to the higher graphic level, which my contemporary Mac couldn’t handle, which is ridiculous (I mean I know it’s designed for PCs and Playstations actually, but come on). I actually had to quit and restart the game about once an hour if I set the graphics higher, but if I set them too low I sometimes couldn’t make out important details.

Changing to a scrolling platformer works pretty well, although they apparently had to make a few design changes along the way, like having sleeping baddies’ ZZZs come right into the next screen, which wasn’t required before. But there are enough places where it’s obvious where the break in the screens would have been in the original, and that grated a bit. I had similar problems with the updated Avernum and Avernum 2 – you can see where previous hardware or programming limitations had forced a design decision that wasn’t necessary any longer.

I had to use Steam, which also annoyed me because it is bloated and has a draconian password-change process (I haven’t used it in five or six years), and because it keeps trying to advertise at me when I load it up to play a game. A small annoyance overall. Changing from a Playstation controller to keyboard controls was the final slight hurdle for me, but I managed to get used to that eventually. I kept pressing the wrong buttons, though. I could reset the controls how I wanted, but the defaults were fine, just pretty left-handed and sometimes with keys arranged differently than I naturally expected.

It was a good replaying experience, and I’m just hoping they’re going to revamp Abe’s Exoddus soon. It also has original DLC, but I haven’t bought it yet. I hope it’s interesting and takes advantage of the new features better. I have a few more things I’d like to say, but that should do for now. Anyone else played this? Or the original?

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