Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
Game: Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Year Released: 1997
The tagline on the case sums up this game perfectly: “No menus. No inventory bars. No scorekeeping. Just infinite lives, victims to rescue, and inexplicably challenging gameplay.”
I’ve been itching to play this game again ever since seeing its creator, Lorne Lanning, debate the infamous Jack Thompson at this month’s VGXPO. It’s been awhile, but I remember this as being one of my favorite games on a system that had many excellent titles. So for this week’s old-school review, let’s take a journey with Abe as he tries to save his species from becoming extinct.
Abe is a Mudokon slave working at Rupture Farms, a meat packing plant. Early on in the game, he discovers that the plant, after wiping several other species from existence to process their product, is going to start using the Mudokon slaves they keep as the new special ingredient. His mission is clear: he has to escape from Rupture Farms, hopefully saving a few other Mudokons along the way.
In the simplest terms, Oddworld is a platformer, and as the title character, you make your way through wonderfully designed and detailed levels to ensure that the Mudokons do not suffer a terrible fate. However, this one definitely requires much more thought and patience than the actual platformer. Running and jumping won’t get you very far here; many of the stages require carefully timed moves to survive and progress.
It’s a challenge from the start, but the experience feels all the more rewarding after you’ve rescued some friends or made it past a particularly difficult obstacle. You will find yourself fully immersed in the game, holding your breath as you try to dismantle a bomb or sneak past an armed guard.
There are times where the gameplay can be a bit frustrating, however. The most irritating part is the save system; instead of saving every time you accomplish something (like in Portal), there are checkpoints at semi-regular intervals. Unfortunately, although there are infinite lives, death can set you back quite a bit. This wouldn’t be a problem if it was a rare occurrence, but because of the level of challenge, you may get splattered across the screen or accidentally fall down a hole multiple times before making it past some of the more taxing parts.
If you’re looking for something fast-paced and easy to pick up, this is not the game for you. The game requires patience and persistence to get anywhere. However, it is well worth it for the unique, amusing, and overall entertaining gameplay. Finding a copy of this classic may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth a try.