Oddworld: Discovering Gaming Greatness


As much as I love playing games, it does sadden me that the industry is driven on the back of shooters and sports simulations. I suppose that's why every now and again, I take a break from the plethora of generic consumer-pleasing games and indulge in something a little more off-the-wall. The latest example of this is my recent foray into the quirky realm of Oddworld. Over the last week or so, I've wasted a significant amount of my time playing through both Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and its follow up Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, bought on Steam in the form of the Oddworld Pack for the very reasonable sum of £8.99. After doing so, I highly recommend you do the same. The first two Oddworld games are a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed with comparatively stale modern releases. Here's why.
              
 Hey! It's that Abe guy!
Both games are essentially the same from a gameplay perspective, and Exoddus picks up immediately where Oddysee left off, so I've chosen to evaluate them as a pair rather than individually. For those of you not familiar with them, the first two Oddworld games are a pair of 2D platformers where the emphasis of gameplay is focused on puzzle-solving. You play the role of a Mudokon named Abe, whose people have been enslaved by the greedy Glukkons and used as cheap labour. It's up to you to help Abe fulfil his destiny and rescue the captive Mudokons. It's a premise that sounds simple, but makes for some pretty complicated gameplay. 
 
Words are Abe's weapons 
The main reason I love the gameplay on offer in the first two Oddworld games lies in their employment of the utterly brilliant Gamespeak concept. Throughout both games, Abe has no weapons or offensive powers to his name (save for the odd rock or grenade, that is), meaning his most potent weapon is his own voice. Through use of Gamespeak, Abe is able to rescue his friends, possess his enemies, and solve the myriad puzzles he's faced with. The games' most memorable puzzles involve a healthy mixture of precision timing and elaborate manipulation of Abe's foes in order to rescue a band of Mudokons. While sometimes they can prove to be a little frustrating and arguably rely too much on trial and error, they're also incredibly rewarding. In fact, completion of these Gamespeak puzzles is more rewarding than anything else I've done in a game in recent memory. I'd even go as far as to blaspheme and say that in some cases they're more rewarding than nabbing a few difficult achievements.
 
Some of the game's puzzles can be fiendishly difficult 
This formula works well enough in Oddysee, but it really comes into its own in Exoddus where the range of creatures that Abe can possess increases drastically. In addition to Sligs, Abe can possess Paramites, Scrabs, Glukkons and even his own farts. As a result, the puzzles in Exoddus are a lot more varied. To top it all off, all of these creatures interact in different ways. For example, isolated Scrabs are a threat to Abe, but will attack members of their own species too. On the other hand, Paramites are more social creatures and can communicate with each other to co-ordinate attacks. Glukkons can command Sligs, and Sligs can command Slogs. These chains of command make for some great situations in-game, and really help to make Oddworld all the more believable. 
 
That's another reason why I loved playing through the first two Oddworld games - the self-contained Oddworld universe is unlike anything else I've seen in any other game. The world has its own inhabitants, its own races, its own heirarchies and its own history. It's like a really off-the-wall alternative to Middle-earth. It makes a welcome change from the same tired old scenarios involving zombies, aliens and terrorists. It's even charming, in a warped, ugly kind of way. Not just that, they're also two of the funniest games I've played in recent memory. 
 
Every creature has their own set of unique dialogue options 
Abe's Exoddus was one of the defining games of my childhood, so it was a pleasure to revisit it and finally get a chance to experience its predecessor too. As I said in the opening paragraph, these games are more than worth the Steam price. If you're tired of the same old story, finding yourself unenthusiastic about Modern Warfare 2 or disinterested in FIFA 10, then I recommend giving the first two Oddworld games a try. There really is nothing on the market like them anymore, which is a real shame. Here's hoping Lorne Lanning and the other guys at Oddworld Inhabitants see sense and return to the world of video games, because it's certainly a less interesting place without them. Now that my stint in Oddworld has come to an end, I have my sights set on getting into a new JRPG. I've narrowed the choice down to Final Fantasy VI, Dragon Quest VIII, Persona 4, and Lost Odyssey. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I'm terrible at making decisions. In the meantime, thanks for reading, guys. See you around. 
 
 
DanK 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Forza Motorsport 2 (X360)
26 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by dankempster

As much as I love playing games, it does sadden me that the industry is driven on the back of shooters and sports simulations. I suppose that's why every now and again, I take a break from the plethora of generic consumer-pleasing games and indulge in something a little more off-the-wall. The latest example of this is my recent foray into the quirky realm of Oddworld. Over the last week or so, I've wasted a significant amount of my time playing through both Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and its follow up Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, bought on Steam in the form of the Oddworld Pack for the very reasonable sum of £8.99. After doing so, I highly recommend you do the same. The first two Oddworld games are a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed with comparatively stale modern releases. Here's why.
              
 Hey! It's that Abe guy!
Both games are essentially the same from a gameplay perspective, and Exoddus picks up immediately where Oddysee left off, so I've chosen to evaluate them as a pair rather than individually. For those of you not familiar with them, the first two Oddworld games are a pair of 2D platformers where the emphasis of gameplay is focused on puzzle-solving. You play the role of a Mudokon named Abe, whose people have been enslaved by the greedy Glukkons and used as cheap labour. It's up to you to help Abe fulfil his destiny and rescue the captive Mudokons. It's a premise that sounds simple, but makes for some pretty complicated gameplay. 
 
Words are Abe's weapons 
The main reason I love the gameplay on offer in the first two Oddworld games lies in their employment of the utterly brilliant Gamespeak concept. Throughout both games, Abe has no weapons or offensive powers to his name (save for the odd rock or grenade, that is), meaning his most potent weapon is his own voice. Through use of Gamespeak, Abe is able to rescue his friends, possess his enemies, and solve the myriad puzzles he's faced with. The games' most memorable puzzles involve a healthy mixture of precision timing and elaborate manipulation of Abe's foes in order to rescue a band of Mudokons. While sometimes they can prove to be a little frustrating and arguably rely too much on trial and error, they're also incredibly rewarding. In fact, completion of these Gamespeak puzzles is more rewarding than anything else I've done in a game in recent memory. I'd even go as far as to blaspheme and say that in some cases they're more rewarding than nabbing a few difficult achievements.
 
Some of the game's puzzles can be fiendishly difficult 
This formula works well enough in Oddysee, but it really comes into its own in Exoddus where the range of creatures that Abe can possess increases drastically. In addition to Sligs, Abe can possess Paramites, Scrabs, Glukkons and even his own farts. As a result, the puzzles in Exoddus are a lot more varied. To top it all off, all of these creatures interact in different ways. For example, isolated Scrabs are a threat to Abe, but will attack members of their own species too. On the other hand, Paramites are more social creatures and can communicate with each other to co-ordinate attacks. Glukkons can command Sligs, and Sligs can command Slogs. These chains of command make for some great situations in-game, and really help to make Oddworld all the more believable. 
 
That's another reason why I loved playing through the first two Oddworld games - the self-contained Oddworld universe is unlike anything else I've seen in any other game. The world has its own inhabitants, its own races, its own heirarchies and its own history. It's like a really off-the-wall alternative to Middle-earth. It makes a welcome change from the same tired old scenarios involving zombies, aliens and terrorists. It's even charming, in a warped, ugly kind of way. Not just that, they're also two of the funniest games I've played in recent memory. 
 
Every creature has their own set of unique dialogue options 
Abe's Exoddus was one of the defining games of my childhood, so it was a pleasure to revisit it and finally get a chance to experience its predecessor too. As I said in the opening paragraph, these games are more than worth the Steam price. If you're tired of the same old story, finding yourself unenthusiastic about Modern Warfare 2 or disinterested in FIFA 10, then I recommend giving the first two Oddworld games a try. There really is nothing on the market like them anymore, which is a real shame. Here's hoping Lorne Lanning and the other guys at Oddworld Inhabitants see sense and return to the world of video games, because it's certainly a less interesting place without them. Now that my stint in Oddworld has come to an end, I have my sights set on getting into a new JRPG. I've narrowed the choice down to Final Fantasy VI, Dragon Quest VIII, Persona 4, and Lost Odyssey. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I'm terrible at making decisions. In the meantime, thanks for reading, guys. See you around. 
 
 
DanK 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Forza Motorsport 2 (X360)
Posted by Exlutonian

I have such a passion myself for the Oddworld games. They are so very well designed. What are the Oddworld team up to now anyway. I heard they pulled the "10" game plan they had to make a film or something.

Posted by dankempster
@Exlutonian: As I understand it, they pulled out of the games industry to work on CGI movies. However, I do remember rumours circulating that they may be returning to video games in the near future. I really hope there's some truth to those rumours, I'd love to see more of Oddworld myself. 
 
@SuperMooseman: I'd highly recommend checking them out. I don't know of any other game where you can drink brew, possess your own fart and use it to blow stuff up.
Edited by Exlutonian

Excellant. Seems nothing has progressed since they said that though. Website says Copyright 2006. Would be excellent to see another game out of it.

Posted by MattyFTM

I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of the first two oddworld games. They have a really great storyline set in a fantastic world. Some of the gameplay elements are probably a little bit dated, but other gameplay elements still seem completely new and fresh. They are fantastic games. They have a great atmosphere, and are so fun. I really want to see a new 2D oddworld game released on downloadable services. It would be fantastic.

Moderator Online
Posted by Benjamimmy

I'm a huge fan of the first two abe games and wish they continue making more featuring abe and it's 2d enviroment.

Posted by Scooper

I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED the first 2 Abe games. Used to watch my brother play them as we figured out how to proceed the puzzeles. They really draw you into the world and it actualy felt like a believable world that's, as you said, filled with different heirarchies that interact with eachother. It felt like the universe was stil going on even when you weren't directly involved with it. Great blog.

Posted by JJOR64

I wish the first two games came out on XBLA.

Posted by Manachild

I've sadly not yet discovered the magic of the abes games, i should give them a try.

Edited by vidiot

I rescued all 99 mudokons in the first game. My pre-achievement addiction was forming.
 
Edit: You basically picked a large group of RPG's that are all equally excellent. 
 
Final Fantasy IV: A classic, oldie but goodie. What version are you considering? 
Dragon Quest VIII: Phenomenal. Easily spent over 100 hours, totally blown away. Remember that /insert forum poster that said new JRPG's should be like old school novice JRPG's? That's this game. Great cell-shaded graphics, fully orchestrated music, classic gameplay and story, and 16:9 support? Yeah, it's amazing.
Persona 4: Persona 4 is the greatest game ever made. I would never ever think otherwise, and my opinion has nothing to do with the fact we are on GiantBomb.
Lost Odyssey: It's the Final Fantasy game we never got, pure and simple. It takes the direction the series was going after X and expands on it. It's trying to capture the essence of the Playstation era of JRPGs (It's on four freaking disks.) One of my favorite games to be released in the last few years.

Edited by L33tfella_H
@vidiot said:


Final Fantasy IV: A classic, oldie but goodie. What version are you considering? 

Typo?
 
But personally, FF6 is my favourite in the series, mainly cause it was the first i really took my time with and finished, but also because i consider it to be the where the series might've peaked.
 
As for Oddworld...they're really weird but at the same time, oddly addicting games. I bought the Abe Collection on Steam a while back, as i wanted them both, and i also heard a rumour that they might consider getting Munch and Stranger's Wrath ported to PC.
Edited by vidiot
@L33tfella_H said:

" @vidiot said:


Final Fantasy IV: A classic, oldie but goodie. What version are you considering? 

Typo?
 
But personally, FF6 is my favorite in the series, mainly cause it was the first i really took my time with and finished, but also because i consider it to be the where the series might have peaked.
 
As for Oddworld...they're really weird but at the same time, oddly addicting games. I bought the Abe Collection on Steam a while back, as i wanted them both, and i also heard a rumor that they might consider getting Munch and Stranger's Wrath ported to PC. "
What typo? There have been technically six different re-releases of Final Fantasy IV : 

Final Fantasy II (SNES)
Final Fantasy IV Easy Type (Super Famicom)
Final Fantasy Chronicles (Bundled with Chrono Trigger, Playstation)
Final Fantasy IV (Wonderswan Color)
Final Fantasy IV Advance (Gameboy Advance)
Final Fantasy IV (DS)
 

My bet is that he's not trying to hunt down a wonderswan version, but it's a practical question to ask between the GBA version, the original, or the DS.
Posted by SlowHands

I love the Oddworld games.  The universe has such a charm, the characters are strong and the story is excellent.  The gameplay in the two Abe games is frustrating though, and if someone was to play them now without having played them before, they would probably quit quite quickly.  I'm still a fan though, and I do wish Oddworld Inhabitants returns to making games.

Posted by SamFo

FANTASTIC Blog post, supreme kudos to you. I think that if Oddworld had originally been released on xbox live arcade against a critically acclaimed title like braid, Oddworld would be considered more groundbreaking and revolutionary.

Edited by L33tfella_H
@vidiot: The TC said FF VI(6), not IV(4). ;P
Posted by vidiot
@L33tfella_H: GAAAADDDD!!!!!  *shakes fist in air*
This is why I shouldn't be on at 2:30 in the morning!
 
It changes everything too!
 
 
.............
 
 
.........
 
 
....
 
 
...So, what version are you considering?
Posted by dankempster

Thanks for all the comments, guys. It's nice to know there are other Oddworld fans here on GB. 
 
@vidiot: No worries about the misunderstanding, duder. I'm considering the PlayStation version of FFVI, as it's the only one I have. 

Edited by Hitchenson

I always liked Munch's Odyssey. Would be awesome to see an Oddworld game on Xbox 360/PS3 era consoles. Sadly, I don't see that happening...

Posted by Meowayne

 As much as I love playing games, it does sadden me that the industry is driven on the back of shooters and sports simulations.  

Wii says hi.
Posted by SlowHands

No mention of Stranger's Wrath?  That is one of my favourite games ever.  Maybe it was just a timing thing, but I played through it so many times, each time soaking up the story, characters and setting.  Oddworld knows (knew?) how to do stories in videogames.

Posted by Sweep

 
In addition to Sligs, Abe can possess Paramites, Scrabs, Glukkons and even his own  farts. As a result, the puzzles in Exoddus are a lot more varied. To top it all off, all of these creatures interact in different ways. For example, isolated Scrabs are a threat to Abe, but will attack members of their own species too. On the other hand, Paramites are more social creatures and can communicate with each other to co-ordinate attacks. Glukkons can command Sligs, and Sligs can command Slogs. These chains of command make for some great situations in-game, and really help to make Oddworld all the more believable.

This entire paragraph paralysed me with inquisitive fear.
 
There's something about going back in time to experience the classics, especially if you might have missed theoriginal batch. I recently booted up a dusty copy of Tropico 2, which is hilariously old. It's almost educational, experienceing the games which helped dictate the way the games industry would unfurl.
 
I'm glad you had fun with Oddworld. It would be nice if giantbomb could do some of those retro Quick Looks they mentioned.
Moderator
Posted by Tebbit

I played Exoddus on my PS3 the other day, and came away with two things... 
 
THING THE FIRST: This game has aged pretty well. 
THING THE SECOND: The minecart sections are some of the best pieces of gaming ever made. "Whats that above you Mr Slig? Oh nothing, JUST THE BALL OF DEATHHHHHHHHHHHH" 
 
Crunch, sizzle, "follow me", "weeoweeoweeo". 
repeat as necessary.

Posted by ElectricHaggis

I remember the demo scaring me when I was a kid.  I could probably handle it now though...

Posted by Disgaeamad

I remember loving these two games when I was younger, although I was more partial to Exoddus solely because possessing Paramites and Scrabs provided such a great passtime as you could practically murder anything without a problem. The dialogue in each game is great as well, especially when it's between Glukkons.

Posted by dankempster

Once again, thanks for all the comments, guys. It's greatly appreciated and nice to know that what I'm writing is being read. 
 
I probably should have mentioned that demos for both games can be downloaded for free from Steam. I'd highly recommend checking them out if you're even the slightest bit curious. 
 
@Disgaeamad: Couldn't agree more. Who can argue with quips like, "But we had twice zee flavour!!"

Posted by JackSukeru

I loved the 2 first Oddworld games too, sadly didn't play any beyond that because I never had an Xbox.
Posted by ryanwho

I havent seen Oddworld screenshots in ages. Good god, hasn't aged well.