Say “hello” to this cult favourite as we join ol’ Stitchlips on his weird and wonderful platforming/puzzle adventure.
One of the first games I played on the Playstation was a game in which you could fart on command. That game was Abe’s Oddysee. Years later (this year in fact), a HD remake of this game has been produced for the PS4. Since I do not own a PS4 and cannot play the remake in HD on a £400 console, I have resorted to replaying this old school game and farting on my laptop instead.
..wait, not tha- FUCK!
The player takes control of Abe, an ugly little creature from an alien-like race known as the Mudokons. Abe, along with the rest of his species, are slaves at the gloomy meat processing plant, Rupture Farms. One day whilst he is working, Abe discovers that his bosses (the Glukkons) are planning to slaughter all of the Mudokons to make their new meat product, New ‘n’ Tasty (a rather fitting name for a HD remake of this game, amirite?). Abe, understandably, legs it and decides to save as many of his friends as he can on his way out, whilst avoiding the deadly Slig guards, their bloodthirsty Slogs and all the other assortment of things that make him die.
Abe’s Oddysee is a bit of a mishmash of gaming genres, combining puzzles with platforming and even stealth. Your two main objectives in the game are to progress through the many screens (avoiding the various baddies/traps) and to save the Mudokon workers you encounter. Abe has the ability to talk to fellow Mudokons using the games innovative ‘Gamespeak’ feature. Because of how used to the slave life your species have become, your buddies will continue working until you tell them otherwise. You must guide them to the portals in order for them to escape in a sort of trial and error fashion. Fortunately, you do have an unlimited supply of lives, however, your buddies do not. As well as controlling your own species, Abe has the ability to possess and take control of the armed guards to get out of harmful situations, giving him added (literal) firepower.
The game contains exactly 99 Mudokons for you to save and, if you’re that kind of person, you can just leave the helpless buggers to die.
Bear in mind that there is a good and a bad ending though! With the platforming aspect of the game, Abe gets a pretty good workout as you guide him around. Not only can he do the whole walking thing but he can run, jump, roll, sneak and hang precariously from ledges. All of these game mechanics are necessary to survival. To start with, the levels are pretty basic and contain little dangers, this will give you an understanding of how everything works and trains you for the later, difficult stages. The games puzzles also vary in difficulty and, especially later on, you’ll wish there was some sort of ‘Quick Save’ option. The puzzles range from stupidly simple (like pulling a lever to open a door or throwing a rock at a mine), to FFFFFFUUUUUUUUU (like luring enemies into traps or that bit where you possess a Slig and mow down a whole fucking HERD of Slogs).
I think the only things which spring to mind that I’m not a fan of in the game are the ‘password puzzles’. These involve finding a stone that plays you a password and then finding a guy to whistle the password back to in order to unlock the next bit of the level.. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to get past and it’s not that much of a chore. It’s also a pretty good idea which mixes the game up a bit and it comes up again in Slig speak towards the end of the game.. but I can’t help but think that, with that picture underneath (the Gamespeak tutorial pic), the developers found phrases to use for all but two of the buttons and thought ‘errr.. what about, like… w-whistling?’ and made a few puzzles out of it. Who knows? Being a bit of an Oddworld nerd myself, I know that Mudokons evolved from birds and they whistle.. but they could’ve just written that back story up after they programmed those button inputs. I’m sat here trying to think of a better use for the buttons and I gots nothing.
I know the ‘Everybody!’ phrase was added to the sequel, allowing you to call all of the Mudokons on screen at once, rather than talking to one Mudokon at a time (which is how this game operates.. my other gripe). Maybe Abe could’ve acquired two new phrases at the end of each Temple? Enough of my nerd-waffle, aside from my minor grievances, the games story can’t be faulted and you’re taken to several locations along the way. Not to spoil anything, there are barren desert areas, sacred grounds, and even Temples (wait, I said that already..) and even Kennels! All of which look lovely.. I bet that HD shizz would blow my goddamn mind!
Straight off the bat, Abe is pretty easy to move around with the simple controls. After the initial cutscene, you’re given a clean run to have a little experiment with the controls if you wish, but even if you don’t do that, it’s cool! As you progress, the game designers have placed little help terminals along your route which give you a little tutorial on whatever the next obstacle is. I believe it’s called ‘conveyance’, an important feature in a video game. By the end of the first level, you have pretty much mastered the controls of the game (well, certainly Abe at least).
I still think this game looks and sounds good after seventeen years, time has treated you well Abe. It’s a little bit pixelly but hey, PS1 graphics weren’t that bad after all. Most of the sounds you will hear are from the environment around you; the machines humming, the guards patrolling, Slogs sleeping and of course, the Gamespeak. Chatting to the other Mudokons is just downright fun, even the random chit-chat. If you tell a Mudokon to walk when there’s a wall in front of him, he’ll say “uh-uh”, if you growl near one, he’ll say “I don’t know!” (as if he’s done something wrong) and if you fart, you’ll get a giggle.
As long as you’re not in plain sight of one, the Sligs will talk back to you too, there’s even a rideable mount half way through the game who comes towards you when you tell him to follow and cries when you tell him to wait. On the subject of sound, there isn’t a great deal of music in the entire game but I wouldn’t say that this is a negative thing as you never really notice its absence. In fact, the only time any music kicks in is when you’re being chased by something that’s about to kill you, which just adds to the tension.
Back in 1997, Abe’s Oddysee came with a ’12’ rating and contains the odd curse word and flying chunk of body part and most importantly, a nice dose of dark humour. It’s not just things like witnessing the Sligs giving the workers the occasional beatdowns and laughing about it.. You can rather easily lead your ‘friends’ to their unsuspecting demise and (forgive me) it’s oddly satisfying. But, despite the dank, gloominess of it, the game is rather pretty with its alien surroundings and ever changing backdrops.
There’s a particular background in the area ‘Monsaic Lines’ that contains giant statues of both the Scrab and the Paramite creatures (two more species you encounter) and to this day, every time I get to it I go ‘woooooah’.. True story. Speaking of stories, the games story is super original and the cutscenes are very engaging. You’ll be rooting for the clumsy, yet strangely likable protagonist and you’ll find yourself wanting to know more about this strange Oddworld universe.
A massively addictive, action packed, platforming/puzzle, Paramite Pie fucking, cult, love thing what am I doing again? oh yeah! YOU FUCKING LOVE IT! And if you don’t I will fight you and I will most definitely lose, but errm.. Play this game, kay?
Pros: Awesome story, Simple Controls, Engaging cutscenes, Gamespeak, Good difficulty curve, Dark sense of humour, Fart
Cons: Them password puzzles, no quick save, only being able to control one Mudokon at a time, my nerd-waffle