Thursday, April 11, 2019

Retro Video Game Review - Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee for PlayStation

Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssee
Publisher: GT Interactive Software
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Adventure Puzzle/Side-Scrolling Platformer


Odd alien Abe has worked for years as a slave at a futuristic meat packing plant called Rupture Farms. Though the plant prides itself on producing Paramite Pies and Scarab Cakes, the species the food is made from is on the verge of extinction. Using a full-fledged alien race as ingredients, the owners have come up with a new product called Mudokon Pops.

While eavesdropping on a meeting of the higher-ups, Abe discovers the horrific news; he and his people are of Mudokon ethnicity. Disgusted and terrified by this revolting development, the alien embarks on a journey to escape the vast planet and rescue his fellow co-workers. Unfortunately, the plant owners know of the revolt and are looking for Abe's head on a stick -- or in this case, a Mudokon Popsicle.

As homage to the days of Flashback--The Quest for Identity and Out of thisWorld, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a side-scrolling platformer heavily rooted with puzzle solving and, according to the manual, inexplicably challenging gameplay. Your job is to maneuver Abe through the dangerous confines of Rupture Farms and its bordering territories (Monsaic Lines, Scarabania) while sneaking, jumping, climbing and running for your life. The adventure will also have you solving puzzles by pulling levers to unlock doors, defusing bombs to avoid being blown to bits, sneaking past sleeping guards, speed rolling across the screen to evade gunfire, and other situations that challenge the reflexes and the mind.

While Abe's primary goal is to stay alive, rescuing fellow Mudokon aliens is a top priority. Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee allows you to communicate with fellow friends and bitter enemies with an exclusive GameSpeak system. By pressing the L1 or L2 buttons, you can say hello to fellow Mudokons and have them follow your or hold their position; Abe can also be rude and funny by laughing at the inhabitants or breaking wind in front of a guard.


Before you begin playing Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, you'll need to have at least some idea of what the game is all about. At the very least, you'll want to understand its attitude and where it comes from. After you're introduced to a dark, yet humorous storyline, the game informs you in big colorful letters that "Abe's Oddysee is loading. Get over it!"
What you may not know until the game actually begins is that it requires spatial problem-solving skills and deductive reasoning with a healthy dose of trial and error on the player's behalf. This game constantly challenges and thoroughly keeps you on your mental and physical toes. Almost every screen features at least one action/strategy puzzle that you'll have to figure out. If you get in a big hurry on any particular level or screen, you're sure to die by bullets, electricity, a long fall or a number of other cleverly laid out obstacles and traps.

The environment of Rupture Farms is one of cold steel, darkness, isolation, misery, torture and horror; the darkly realistic, yet humorous graphics portray this H.G. Wells meets Alan Dean Foster meets George Orwell future very effectively. There are also surrounding territories such as the strange alien world of Monsaic Lines, the desert wasteland of Scarabania and the lush forest of Paramonia that drive the graphical premise home.

The soundtrack, although suitably foreboding and sinister, is remarkably and surprisingly restrained. It must've been tempting to fill this game with all kinds of distracting, over-the-top music that would ultimately have harmed its air of mystery, fright and intrigue. On the other hand, the sound effects are average at best. Some of the frequently recurring sounds are grating on the nerves, such as Abe reentering the game after being killed. Additionally, of the many noises the Mudokon can make, such as whistling, laughing and farting, most are unrealistic and not particularly funny. But these bodily noises do play a strategic role in the game as you can use them (among other things) to distract evil creatures bent on your destruction.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee handles quite well and that's especially important as many of the puzzles require split-second timing and instant controller response. Most of the screens provide a running commentary across the top of the playing field, giving you pointers and hints on how to get past a certain obstacle or solve a particular puzzle. Some of the commentary is meant solely for laughs. An assortment of sequels and offshoots followed, including Oddworld: Abe's Exodus and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee - New 'n' Tasty! 

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