By now, remakes have almost become the object of ridicule, considered as commercial and soulless products designed to leverage the heartstrings of a crowd of enthusiasts or onlookers. It is difficult to think that sometimes there is anything more than statistics and cold numbers behind a remake.
Fortunately, this is not the case with Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty !, a title that - we feel like saying - was made with the heart, respecting an original that has left its mark and has become an object of worship. The first Oddworld, subtitle Abe's Oddysee, dates back to 1997: appreciated for its originality, it was a little less so for the brutal difficulty that characterized certain passages of the game. The original developer, Oddworld Inhabitants, conceived three sequels with the idea of turning the franchise into a pentalogy, but eventually some problems with publishers stopped the developer's race. After many ups and downs and a silence that lasted years, it was the collaboration with Just Add Water - and the encouragement of the fans of Lorne Lanning, the biological father of Oddworld - to lay the foundations for what is a very welcome return.
Return to Oddworld with a classy remake that updates one of the hardest games ever!
A Mudokon-based diet
Although it appears almost as a pretext, the plot of Oddworld is rather interesting and original: it tells, in fact, the adventures of Abe, a Mudokon employed (of the year!) As an attendant in the RuptureFarms, a complex of factories ruled by the alien Molluck who deals with producing canned foods. Foods that, needless to say, are made up of other aliens. The problem arises when the raw material begins to run out (in practice, the alien species have become extinct) and the management decides to grind the enslaved Mudokons to produce fantastic icicles. Unfortunately Abe discovers everything and decides to run away from the factory, taking away as many friends as possible: and this is where we come into play.
We will control poor Abe in what is a kind of platformer with a strong enigmatic component in a series of levels divided into horizontal and vertical scrolling macrosections. Abe can run, jump and roll, but also resort to a trance that allows him to mentally control the factory guards and other enemies, unless there is - as often happens - a drone that prevents him from using his mental powers. . The numerous pitfalls scattered around the levels are almost always double-edged: the hatches risk swallowing Abe, but they can be opened at the right time to make us fall into an unwary enemy, as well as it is possible to resort to millstones, laser barriers and other traps that often they are not only obstacles but crucial elements of the round puzzle. Abe, however, is a very fragile creature and it takes very little to kill him; the guards, then, are terribly vigilant and in order not to be noticed it will be necessary to walk on tiptoe and take advantage of shadows and puffs of smoke to blend in with the environment. The scenario, in fact, is almost always our best ally, but at times it also manages to be our worst enemy due to the complexity and the high level of detail that sometimes confuses ideas: Oddworld, of course, has been redesigned by zero, and the result is a visually splendid title with a great atmosphere, but also a bit confusing in which the solution of the puzzle is not always very clear, especially if linked to the setting. In any case, the work done by Just Add Water is extraordinary not only in the remodeling of the characters, animated from scratch and full of even more personality, but also in the use of colors, effects and plays of light and shadow. Once you leave RuptureFarms, you are left speechless not so much by the starry sky above Abe, but by the sensitivity with which the developer plays on distances, profiles and shadows to give a special flavor to many shots.
PlayStation 4 Trophies
The thirty-six trophies - divided into twenty-two bronze, nine silver, five gold - that belong to platinum are unlocked in a fairly obvious way: you have to save all the Mudokons, complete the game and find all the secret levels, but there 'there is also room for somewhat strange challenges, such as the one that requires you to ride the Elum for two hundred meters without ever stopping.
Our protagonist, for his part, finds himself on his hands a difficult task: not only to save his own skin, fleeing from the alien meat factory, but also that of his fellowmen, reduced to slavery and forced to pass the wax, day and night, while huge billboards affect us in real time how many of them are still alive and how many have died because of us. Compared to the original Abe's Oddysee, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! it allows you to "control" multiple Mudokons at the same time: Abe can in fact attract their attention and indicate what to do through four commands linked to the directional cross, suggesting for example to wait or to follow it. Which, however, does not make the rescue operation easier. Mudokons are rather stupid and to avoid waking sleeping enemies or going to certain death, you need to alternate orders carefully and, perhaps, with a little timing, use them as bait as well.
It should be noted that not even a Mudokon needs to be saved to complete the game, but Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! has two endings just like the original, linked to the number of slaves saved by the end of the adventure. Considering that virtually every level hides a secret portal that leads to an extra stage and the replayed levels don't take into account the Mudokons saved the first time around, it's clear that the toughest will find one hundred percent of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! the proverbial bread for their teeth, especially considering the high difficulty of the adventure, exacerbated by an improved control system, compared to the mediocre one of 1997, but still rather woody and imprecise. It is not clear if it was Just Add Water's choice to tread on Abe's clumsiness, the fact is that sometimes even taking a simple jump can be mangy, especially if we are running at breakneck speed between mines and motion detectors. Fortunately, we are met with two exponential improvements over the ruthless difficulty of the very first Oddworld. The first concerns the revised and corrected level design, in which the levels, while offering good or bad the same puzzles, have been enlarged and framed by the camera in order to reveal the threats well in advance. This new design allows not only to study the environment better and think about what to do more calmly, but also makes the scene spectacular with dynamic and wide-ranging shots.
The other brand new feature is the quick save option, combined with a generous spread of checkpoints. Just press the DualShock 4 touch pad to save your location and hold it down to instantly reload, checkpoint nearby or not. An option that, although optional, will perhaps make the purists of the franchise or vintage turn up their noses, but which seemed to us a real godsend, especially in the most frustrating moments, which moreover definitely abound already after the 'introduction. In short, the rejuvenation operation worked just fine also from the point of view of difficulty, still calibrated upwards but acceptable thanks to the compromise of the quicksave; on the other hand, Oddworld in some ways still appears to be a title of the past, with a rather embarrassing co-op mode, based simply on passing the joypad to control Abe in turn. And was there really a need to call it that?
CommentTested version PlayStation 4 Digital Delivery PlayStation Store Price 20,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! is a very special remake that leverages on a stellar game design of yesteryear, proposing it with a whole new guise. While not showing off brute force, from a technical point of view, the joint effort of Just Add Water and Oddworld Inhabitants has style to spare. Fans of the original fear not: Abe's adventure is still as damned difficult as it was in 1997, but the new level design and quick save feature make it suitable for everyone, as long as you still have a lot of patience. Too bad only for the control system, still a bit imprecise and frustrating.
- Highest quality level design
- Visually inspired
- Lots of different puzzles
- Quick save
- Quite clunky control system
- Certain sections are very frustrating
- Co-op usutile