OddWorld: New ‘n’ Tasty! has been an interesting ride. There are things to truly, truly enjoy about the game, but other parts to genuinely dislike—which wil make this review a bit difficult to grade “properly”. What do you do when you have a game that you don’t like, dislike, or feel okay about overall, but instead have varied feelings about? Well, let’s talk it out.
Right from the get-go, the graphics, style, and atmosphere of the game stick out, even at the moment you reach the main menu. Abe graces the main menu with his presence, and it immediately shows off what the game’s signature style looks like—a little … Odd.
The graphical style of the game is definitely unique, with creatures appearing very monstrous, for lack of a better term. The stages and backgrounds also look very unique, and help the game with its atmosphere. Oddworld could definitely be picked out from a line-up of screenshots. The game is just that unique-looking. In addition to being different, however, the game looks good. Textures and models are all brilliantly crafted, and everything looks like something from the new gaming era, a target that is often abandoned in newer revivals of older games.
The gameplay for Oddworld is generally another point in the game’s favor. Using a 2D platformer as its base, Oddworld is more of a puzzle game than anything else. While the beginning of the game is incredibly simplistic in it’s puzzle design, the difficulty inclines steadily from there, and the puzzles eventually become quite onerous. Even better, the puzzles vary in design and type, ranging from a simple platforming headscratcher, like maneuvering through an area while avoiding death, to trying to figure out how to remove enemies from the map while not killing friendly NPCs.
NPCs are another great part of the game. Very rarely are there interactions with any NPCs in a sidescrolling platformer, let alone anything beyond “Thank you! But the princess is in another castle!” However, in Oddworld, NPC interaction (although still quite limited) is a major aspect of the game. Talking to other creatures of Abe’s race is an interesting concept that is used in a few different ways. Most commonly, it’s utilized to get others to safety by having them follow Abe to portals throughout the game. The more interesting puzzles likely involve rescuing other Mudokons (the race to which Abe belongs), and they’re sometimes the most infuriating. You’ll also use Abe’s “speaking” abilities to get past guards with secret codes and the like, which, while fun at first, does get tedious after the first two or three such tasks.
Now, to return to the gameplay: coupled with the platforming puzzles, and their ingenuity, is the most frustrating part of the game, the controls. I played the game on PS4, so this may not remain true across other platforms (although I suspect it does) but: the controls are just a trainwreck when it comes to platforming. They are clunky, sometimes even bordering on unresponsive, and it will get you killed, a lot, and in some cases it’s not even the controls themselves that will do it, but the very design behind them.
The worst example of this comes in the short hops. Barely an hour into the game, there is a platforming part that requires you to be crouched so your head doesn’t get blown off by floating mines, but also requires you to make short hops over land mines. Now, this sort of thing isn’t usually a problem. However, crouching and short hops don’t seem to get along very well. To pass the puzzle (which, to be fair, didn’t really take long) I found myself uncrouching before hopping, and then crouching again afterward, which complicates things more than necessary.
Even having finished the main story part of the game and a good portion of the collectibles, I still found myself making silly or downright stupid mistakes due to the controls. I will admit that some of the quirks in controlling Abe helped once I figured them out but, overall, they were still a mess that very heavily detracted from the gameplay.
And having mentioned the main story of the game, it’s worth mentioning that it feels short. While your first time through the game may take anywhere up to eight hours or so, depending on your ability to solve puzzles and not die (the main story took me about six hours to complete), it’s pretty clear that much of that time is spent trying to figure your way through puzzles in the best way possible while saving all of the Mudokons in the area. Once you know the puzzles, the game is actually only between two and four hours long, if you progress through it while dying very little. So, depending on how you feel about game length, this may be a real strike against it for some.
On the other hand, there are a fair amount of collectible-type things throughout the game. Basically, it comes down to rescuing all of the Mudokon, but this does require you to find hidden portals, and solve a few puzzles in peculiar ways in order to reach said hidden portals. There’s quite a bit to do for collectibles, which will add a lot of potential playtime—and that doesn’t take into account that these hidden puzzles tend to be the most intense in the game.
However, without an easy way to travel through stages in the game, collectibles become more chore-like than fun. Whereas the most recent Super Mario games have those special coins in every level, with each level being easy to move to, Oddworld requires some maneuvering to reach some areas that aren’t easily accessible once passed. It’s not anything terrible, simply a small annoyance for collectors.
Another small point in favor of the game is the multiplayer. It’s not exactly multiplayer in the strictest sense, but rather the same as passing the controller. The multiplayer function of the game has control of Abe passing between two controllers every death. While this basically just streamlines the process of passing the controller, it makes the game feel like it’s multiplayer, as opposed to just passing the controller. It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes, but it gives the game the possibility of being a good way to pass some time laughing with a friend over the agonizing deaths you keep sharing.
Overall, the game is solid, with a few annoying quirks about it, most notably the controls. Considering that controls are the most integral part of a platformer, Oddworld takes a heavy hit against it for what would otherwise be a rather minor niggle. In addition, the length may be something to consider, as the game costs $30 now, and some people may not consider an 8-12 hour game experience worth the price. However, if you do go ahead, the experience is different, fun, and endearing in its creepiness, and it is definitely worth a consideration if the price ever lowers.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty was reviewed on PS4 using a code provided by Oddworld Inhabitants. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 7
- Awesome graphics and style
- Mix of puzzle and platformer makes for some great gameplay
- Good amount of collectibles for a game of its type and length
- GameSpeak is an amusing quirk
- Trainwreck controls
- Some collectibles are a real nuisance if you miss them the first time through an area