After a long and arduous journey, Abe has finally made his way to the Wii U. Oddworld: New n’ Tasty is the critically acclaimed remake of the 1997 PSone classic, Abes Odyssey, and over the past year and a half its appeared on almost every other gaming platform. This version however, along with the VITA version reviewed in January, suffered from delays as porting duties were passed from Just Add Water to Nephilim Game Studios. So it’s not exactly new anymore, but rest assured, it’s still pretty tasty.
If you’ve never played an Oddworld game before, then you’re in for a real treat. The universe of Oddworld is sculpted as a very dark and oppressive landscape, where life is cheap and the scales of justice tip in favour of the rich and powerful. The levels are ripe with atmospheric detail and vary from the soulless industrial labyrinth of Rupture Farms to the tranquil and desolate temples where sacred creatures, called Scrabs and Paramites, are revered and protected. New ‘n Tasty, along with all the other Oddworld games, has a unique artistic style that breathes real life into its fictional world.
Within this harsh, unforgiving planet, at the bottom of the food chain, lies Abe. He’s a weak, skinny and idiotic Mudokon who works as a floor cleaner in the Rupture Farms meat factory. One day, while gleefully shining up the floors, Abe happens upon a meeting where all the big-wigs of the company are trying to overcome a depreciation in the endangered species that they’ve been slaughtering for meat. They eventually devise a plan, spearheaded by sadistic CEO Molluck the Glukkon, to start a new line of products conveyed on a massive screen as, quite simply, a Mudokons severed head on a stick. Mudokon Pops! Your objective is clear; get the hell out of there!
That’s not as simple as it sounds though. Hidden in every nook and cranny of the factory are your Mudokon pals, scrubbing and sweeping away like the dutiful slaves they’ve been forced to become. It’s your job to rescue these helpless souls from becoming tasty snacks. To do that, Abe will have to communicate with them and lead them all to escape portals located nearby. Although rescuing Mudokons isn’t essential to complete the game (you can kill them if you want), this is where most of the challenge lies and you’ll find if you leave your brethren to die, the game will fly in very quick and you’ll be punished with a less than ideal climax to your adventure…
If the fate of your entire species isn’t enough to motivate your escape, then the trigger happy and bloodthirsty enemies will be. The most common enemies are Sligs, who follow a pretty standard patrol route, but are quick to anger and quicker to kill. You can chant and possess Sligs into doing your bidding, but oftentimes you’ll just have to sneak around them by hiding in shadows or tiptoeing around when they’re sleeping on the job. Abe hasn’t got much in terms of weapons, so you have to use your wits to turn the dangerous environments against your foes. The end result varies, but the process usually involves luring enemies away from safety. You can throw rocks to grab their attention, or just give them a quick whiff your skinny blue ass and they’ll follow you all the way onto a landmine, meat grinder, electric shock or whatever other hilarious trap you have waiting for them.
After the first act of the game, you’ll tackle tougher monsters that you can’t possess and will have to use your brain even more to get ahead. It’s a challenging game, and your experience could be a frustrating one depending on which way you approach it; thought and caution is rewarded with success whereas gung-ho recklessness is rewarded with certain death. Luckily, the checkpoint system is much more forgiving than it was in the original, and the quicksave function ensures that no progress will ever be lost after making a poor decision.
Visually, New n’ Tasty looks great on the TV and GamePad but the controls are totally conventional, with no utilisation of the touchscreen or any other Wii U features, so basically this is just a straight port. I expected as much to be honest, but it’s always a minor disappointment when developers miss out on making Wii U games just a little bit different from everything else. Technically, it runs okay, with frame rate hiccups when there’s a bunch happening on-screen. It’s not as rough around the edges as the VITA version, but there’s definitely been a downgrade in performance from the other console versions.
Regardless of this, you’ll be hard pressed to find a game today that even comes close to what New n’ Tasty can offer. The minute alterations to the gameplay are a testament to how well the original game was designed, and also to how well it’s aged over the years. Fans of the 1997 classic will love the respect that Just Add Water has shown to their cult favourite and newcomers will get their first taste of Oddworld, a special series of games which could never be replicated or replaced.
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