Initial release date: April 6, 2021 Series: Oddworld Engine: Unity Developers: Oddworld Inhabitants, Just Add Water, Sabotage Studio, Frima Studio, Fat Kraken Studios Publishers: Oddworld Inhabitants, Microïds Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
"Review Copy Provided By Sherimedia Ltd"
Oddworld…… a franchise that was massive when it was a PSOne exclusive back in the 90’s and has since drifted from platform to platform ever since and changing it’s protagonists from Abe to Munch and finally to Stranger. The series has not been the most popular in the current era of gaming and even with it’s series reboot in 2014’s “New N’ Tasty”; the series still hasn’t found that mainstream success it once had. With the launch of the new PlayStation and a new opportunity to introduce new gamers to the world of Oddworld; we now have Oddworld: Soulstorm which looks to bring back old fans and new players alike. Is this the Oddworld game to make it big once again? Let’s find out!
Set hours after the events of Oddworld: New 'n Tasty; RuptureFarms janitor Mudokon, Abe, accidentally stumbled across a scheme engineered by his CEO, Molluck the Glukkon, to turn all Mudokon workforce into an edible product to compensate for the sales' decline of other meat-based treats, provoked by the dwindling of available animals for.
If you’ve played the 1997 original Oddworld: Abe’s Odyseyy then you’ll pretty much get more of that since this is effectively a remake of Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus which was a sequel/expansion to the original. You play as Abe and are working your way through each level by solving various puzzles, avoiding enemies and traps or eliminating enemies, making sure your allies are safe and sound, and generally getting to the end of the levels.
Abe is able to walk, run, stealth slow walk, crouch, crouch walk, roll, jump, double jump, use various bottles with substances, and uses his telekinetic abilities to hit special door switches and control enemies for a limited amount of time. You’ll often run into new areas that will require you to strategically approach them as you’ll never knew if you need to approach by just running and jumping to the next platform or by needing to use water bottles to douse the raging flames in order to get across the various platforms.
There will be times when you have to find ways to maneuver past a set of enemies that are patrolling the paths ahead of you along with needing to deal with raging fires on the floor as well there being oil spills which are flammable allowing you to ignite them with one of your bottles along with trap mines that’ll explode if you go near them and not deactivate them and to top it all off you’ll not be able to use your telekinetic ability due to an area sentry that while zap you and alert area enemies whenever you attempt to use that ability.
Sound challenging? You bet! And that’s always been the draw of Oddworld, finding ways to utilize both your abilities and the environment to progress forward and solve the various puzzles.
You’ll gain various items to be used along the way from the initial water bottle which douses flames to an exploding bottle that ignites oil spilled floors to one of my favorites being the trap mines which allows you to throw mines in the pathway of your enemies to either destroy or knock them out allowing you to pick pocket them and tie them up if you’re holding the stealth button down. With your telekinetic ability, you can use it to control your enemies and have them attack other enemies and or activate switches in the environment or you can cause them to explode and kill them off and more. When activating the ability, you’ll end up going prone while a ball of light will leave Abe and you can move it around with the left stick, there are range limitations as if you get too far away from Abe it’ll go away and also there are sentries as mentioned earlier that will zap Abe the minute you get in their vicinity with this power.
There’s also crafting which is nifty for crafting more gear and items for use in the levels like more bottles and trap mines.
Last point I will bring up is the system of telling your companions to either become more aggressive and press forward or to fall back and wait as it’s pivotal to make sure you command them carefully so that you can get them to the end of the levels alive.
Graphically speaking, the game looks really good on the PS5 and runs at a smooth 60fps with no slowdown or frame drops. Abe and the other characters all look really superbly detailed and animated incredibly well. The environments all look good with a large variety of colors that all pop with amazing clarity.
If you played Oddworld: New and Tasty then just expect this game to look substantially better than that entry.
All in all, there isn’t much for me to speak on other than the game looks amazing.
The game has crystal clear audio when it comes to explosions, the sound of fires, gun shots, breaking glasses, Abe and the NPCs talking, and so much more. The ambient music and sounds in the levels all sound really good and fit the areas you’re in and even the voice acting which is hilarious all sounds really good and comically delivered. If you’re a lifelong Oddworld fan then you’ll be right at home, and if you’re new to the franchise then you’ll grow to enjoy it.
I may upset some people by saying this, but I absolutely HATE the input lag that exists in this game! For whatever reason when you do anything in this game from aiming, running, jumping, and more all has a 2-4 second delay from when you initiate something to when Abe does anything. I’m honestly not sure if this was done by design or if it’s something to that needs to get a patch to be fixed but whatever it is I DON’T LIKE IT.
The other thing I can see as a downside is the fact that if you haven’t played the original games or haven’t played the beginning of this franchise reboot in “New and Tasty” then you honestly will have 0 context of what is actually going on with the plot. The game makes 0 effort to explain who anyone is or why you should be invested in this story and ultimately it says to you that this game was definitely made for fans first and can make newcomers feel excluded which probably explains why the game is free on PSN.
If you’re a fan of the Oddworld franchise, then you’ll find a lot to love in this title with all its callbacks and the return to playing as series staple Abe. If on he other hand, you’re new to the franchise and expect to understand the world and lore then you can expect to be disappointed with this because this entry isn’t going to do that for you and will leave you with more questions than answers. With sluggish controls, and incoherent plot if you’re not already clued into the lore, and spotty A.I. and hit detection; Oddworld: Soulstorm is best left to fans of the franchise and honestly perfectly makes sense as to why this game is free (at the current time) for PSN. Definitely get it either free or wait for a massive sale on this one.