- Format: PC (version reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Vita, Wii U
- Unleashed: Out now on PC and PS4, March 2015 for PS3 and XBox One and TBA for PS Vita and Wii U
- Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants, Inc
- Developer: Just Add Water (Developments), Ltd
- Players: 1, with hotseat Co-op
- Site: http://www.oddworld.com/oddworldgames/new-n-tasty/
- Game code provided by PR
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a remake done right, graphical enhancement aside (where it is substantially better than the original, despite the original not having dated much anyway). There are enough enhancements to fully justify the game’s overhaul and release. In short it’s very good; better than the original in fact.
For those not au fait with the original adventure; Abe is one of a race of slaves (Mudokons) used by a corporation (Rupture Farms) that makes snack foods made from butchering various rare animals (some not extinct). He accidentally finds out that his people are next in line, and decides he’s going to make a break for it.
The original wasn’t a bad looking game and while it is kind of murky looking, it’s not as much of a shock to the system to look at as other games from that era. New ‘n’ Tasty however is more than just pretty, it’s pretty beautiful. Using 2.5D doesn’t always work out for the best but here, it’s utilised incredibly well. You almost always have enough seen on screen to be able to make snap decisions based on what’s ahead of you and it rarely pulls a fast one, due in part to the sound cues that help notify you of most of what you can’t see.
Controls are probably the second most improved thing, with Abe’s movement feeling quite smooth when you use a controller – and it’s quite good on the keyboard too. It boils down to running and jumping being a little more responsive, and Abe will also reposition himself slightly in order to climb ledges and activate objects. It’s extremely useful when you have a very short time to do something fiddly, as you don’t end up feeling cheated by losing to slightly off positioning. The ability to aim what you throw in a more fluid way means that you’re able to pull off some nasty tricks and cool ricochets but still manage to bounce a bomb back into your face. Also, being able to just drop what you carry where you stand is more helpful than it sounds at first.
The difficulty has been tuned to allow more varied skill levels. Easy, normal and hard modes allow you to slowly improve upon your platforming with Abe. It’s also improved via the checkpoint and save system. Every time you enter a new room it saves and since rooms aren’t all that big – save for a small amount of exceptions – you’re likely to have a close place to reload to if you should die; especially as checkpoints break up most of the larger rooms too. It would be an outright lie if we said you always have fair warning of what’s up next, as the game will occasionally drop an enemy beside you when an alarm is tripped or something similar. It’s about the only thing that could be regarded as unfair when you first come across it – almost every other thing in the game that kills you can be traced back to being your fault.
If you ever feel like giving yourself a heightened perception of just how bad at the game you are, then you will be pleased to know that leaderboards are there to show you how few Mudokons you’ve saved in your playthrough. It also means that if you’re a keen speedrunner then you’ve got references for where you are in comparison to the competition.
Other things worth mentioning are the new secret levels (which in fairness we weren’t much wiser on having never finished the original) but extra content is extra content and surely some of the secrets we found were new, right? Either way, those were some fun puzzles we played. The other thing is it’s strange how the humour has been preserved so well into this side of the millennium. It covers a lot of bases; gallows, slapstick and even puerile, and it’s all enough to make you at least crack a smile. Accidentally throwing Abe into an abyss or blowing him up should be annoying, as it halts progress; but there’s just enough humour there to alleviate that for more deaths than it really should warrant.
Not everyone who played Abe’s Oddysee has managed to complete it – ourselves included (until now) – difficulty usually being the main reason, but the controls never helped either. This ground-up remake is what’s needed to help those like us to have a more enjoyable time playing; it still has the difficulty but improvements to the save system and controls take the frustration out of replaying sections over and over until completion. It’s a great game – as it was way back when – and its success will hopefully mean its sequel, Abe’s Exoddus gets the same treatment.
PS. This is part of March’s Playstation Plus which is also cross-buy once it’s released on PS3 and Vita respectively. Go get it.