When I heard that Abe’s Oddysee was returning as remake Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty and this time launching on the new generation of console I had both high hopes and some dread over what could be lost in a big remake of such a classic game. What I found however was the true benchmark of what a remake of such a beloved title should be.
The first thing that most gamers look for in any remake is whether or not what made the original game so special has not only been retained but also enhanced. Visually, this is by far the best looking Oddworld game made to date, but Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty is much more than a pretty visual make over and cleaning up the audio tracks. With full 3D character models, a new depth to the levels, and a beautiful world in which to explore, a new life has been breathed into the title that compliments the original game.
For those who remember the original PlayStation title, you can see from the video above that New ‘N’ Tasty has kept its quirky style of platforming which originally made it stand out. As you strive to keep Abe alive whilst saving his fellow Mudokon workers, the puzzles presented still require a trial and error approach in order to work out how to get past some of the trickier conundrums. At times it can be frustrating as, like the original, you can move from screen to screen with some of the traps not visible until you have triggered them, leading to some quite gruesome deaths.
Abe’s main task is to rescue his fellow Mudokon workers who are scattered around the factory, and help lead them to the safety of the Bird Portal, activated using his iconic chant. In order successfully complete this challenge, players must instruct the workers using the D pad to get them to either follow or stay, whilst avoiding or removing any hazards, including Slig guards. These can be dealt with using the environment itself, such as luring an enemy to a trapdoor using a bottle cap, sneakily tip-toeing past sleeping enemies, or simply utilising Abe’s mind control ability to possess the guards to take out any other hazards.
For me, this is the beauty of the puzzle system. It can be quite challenging to not only keep Abe safe but also the Mudokon you acquire along the way, which can get numerous. Put a foot wrong and you can alert a guard who will simply shoot and kill any Mudokon they see, or hit the wrong switch and you can activate a hazard and kill a Mudokon yourself. So much is happening on screen that you do need to take a pause to survey the area and plan out the best way forward. However, checkpoints are well placed so if you mess up and die you will respawn at the last checkpoint and get to try again.
One of the features of the original Abe’s Oddysee that has stuck with me is the humour, especially in the way the Slig would cheer if they caught and killed Abe, or simply their interaction with the other Mudokon before you get a chance to save them. Just stop and listen to the dialogue exchange as both Slig and Mudokon workers complain about their jobs before coming across a random beating by the guards. Unlike some older franchises who have made the transfer to a modern generation of gaming, this theme and humour is as strong now as it was back in 1997 and still has impact today.
Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty Review does have some issues though. Some of the cut scene audio is poorly balanced with the music, overpowering the dialogue of Abe as he narrates his adventure, and on occasion there’s some pretty bad sound distortion. Personally, the controls could do with a little more responsiveness as a few times where precision jumping is needed the game failed to pick up on my button presses. It’s not enough to spoil the experience too much and the fact that they game is just so charming makes such things easy to forgive.
Really, the title itself, Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty, sums up the game perfectly. Back in 1997, Abe’s Oddysee broke all the rules of the classic platform genre when it launched on the original PlayStation. It was different both in visual style and the story it had to tell, showcasing an oppressed workforce up against the unscrupulous Company owner prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone to make profit. It was New ‘N’ Tasty then and it’s New ‘N’ Tasty now.
This remake retains the soul of what made the original so special and the updated graphics and audio will make it stand out in today’s gaming generation just as much as it did when it debuted in 1997. Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty is a breath of fresh air by being unrepentant about being both challenging in its gameplay as it is rewarding. This is a must have game in your collection whether you remember the original game or only discovering it now and sharing it with a friend in the co-op mode.
Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty is out now for PlayStation 4. Release dates for other platforms to be confirmed.