After a long absence, the Oddworld universe can once again be experienced by Xbox gamers. After originally releasing on Playstation nearly 20 years ago, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee has been recreated from the ground up and thrown right out there into the faces of the latest generation of gamers. But does New ‘n’ Tasty bring the same wonderful experience that I was lucky enough to take in all those years ago?
Without a doubt, YES!
It must be said, I’m a bit of a sucker for the whole Oddworld encounters. In fact, it was Abe and his little Mudokon friends that tempted me in to buying an original Xbox back in 2001, just for the chance to play Munch’s Oddysee; exclusive back then to Microsoft’s up and coming debut console. So the chance to get involved once again, this time on Xbox One, was too good to turn down. Thankfully very little of it disappoints.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a side scrolling adventure in which our plucky Mudokon hero, Abe, a standard floor worker in the huge Rupture Farms meat processing plant, discovers something slightly amiss with the plans of the plant. Although a slave to the system, Abe is happy to go about his daily chores, enjoying the likes of Scrab Cakes and Paramite Pies, but the decision by the farms boss, Molluck the Glukkon, to start creating something new, something tasty and something filled with Mudokon meat, meant he needed to escape…liberating as many of his friends at the same time.
Set as a platform puzzler, New ‘n’ Tasty benefits from a good few modern additions over the original. New improved checkpoints and full on side scrolling instead of the original screen flipping brings vast improvement to the overall gameplay. It may have made things slightly easier but Abe will still die – a lot – as he attempts his daring escape, and you manage to get your mind around some of the puzzles that you’ll face.
Between Abe and his escape from the clutches of Molluck is an adventure that will take him to the wilds of Paramonia and Scrabania, as he attempts to learn the necessary skills required in order to stop Rupture Farms from sending the humble Mudokon race to extinction.
However, both the farm itself and the surrounding areas are guarded by Sligs, strange half-mech, half-swamp things that have been given one job and one job only…to stop Abe! Tooled up with the most vicious of machine guns, you’ll need to get Abe tiptoeing past the guards in order to survive. Run and you risk grabbing the attention of some of Oddworld’s strangest creatures and believe me, machine gun vs Mudokon doesn’t go down well. Thankfully the Sligs aren’t the cleverest of creations and so a game of hide and seek quickly sees things shift in Abe’s favour.
Once Abe has acquired the power of possession, the odds swing hugely in his favour and it doesn’t take long before you find yourself taking control of the gun toting guards in order to help Abe progress safely.
If you manage to make your way outside, the puzzles ramp up quickly, especially whilst traversing the Scrab infested Scrabania and the Paramite populated Paramonia. Not only will you need to distract the Slig guards (and on occasion their attack dog companions, the Slogs), but also hide from the attacks of both the crab-like Scrab and the Rhinoceros inspired Paramites. Each of these Oddworld inhabitants have unique characteristics which, when discovered, switch the puzzle side of New ‘n’ Tasty up nicely.
For the most part, New ‘n’ Tasty is a fairly slow paced hide ‘n’ seek-athon but when Abe manages to mount the loyal Elum, another of Oddworld’s strange mutated creatures, the pace picks up considerably with larger jumps and faster running quickly established. But you can’t drag Elum around everywhere with you and so just as you think you’re getting a hold on the power struggle within, you’re thrust back into the slower paced tip-toeing once more.
Visually, things are of the very highest order with beautifully designed backgrounds and character animations throughout. In fact, it’s an absolute joy to run with Abe as he escapes Rupture Farms, taking in the delights and hazards that Paramonia and Scrabania bring, but yet again, as it was nearly 20 years ago, it is the audio additions that will have you forever more mimicking our loveable hero.
Abe is a talkative, funny little fellow. Maybe his vocabulary isn’t the most extensive, but he just can’t pass by someone without giving a quick ‘hello’ and a wave. Even when the chips are down, nothing stops him beaming his never say die attitude across the land. If he really likes the guy, then a ‘follow me’ turns Abe into the Pied Piper of Oddworld and combined with his chanting powers, can help lead the slave Mudokons to safety with ease. A quick press of the D-pad sees Abe shouting out his orders, whilst a hold of RT at the same time opens him up to a whistle and fart and it is these ‘skills’ which will see Abe mimicking those around him in order to solve many a puzzle.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is superb but there is one little complaint I have to address; that of the saves. Whilst a quicksave option is now present and the numerous checkpoints that are included in the game mean that no matter how many times Abe dies, you shouldn’t need to retrace your steps, there are too many times when the whole save system refuses to work. Now, I’m not sure if this is a game issue or just down to the Xbox Cloud Save messing things up, but on numerous occasions I have reloaded the game after a break, only to discover Abe has been thrown back several hundred steps, losing all his previous progress. It’s annoying and unfortunately detracts ever so slightly from the whole experience. Yes, it’s simple enough to re-run through the puzzles (especially since once you’ve completed them the first time, they are easy to remember), but it shouldn’t have to be that way.
Overall though and looking beyond the lost progress issues, New ‘n’ Tasty is a remarkable addition to the Xbox One games library. Whether you were lucky enough to play the original game way back when, or are just a new gamer seeking out a simple but occasionally taxing platform puzzler with some unique mechanics, then Abe is waiting and ready to take you on a journey.
Whether that’s a journey of escape and retribution or humour and rescue is completely down to you.
Whichever it is though, buy it. Immediately.