Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a 90s gem definitely worth playing. It’s a great from zero to hero story of a slave searching for freedom.
Without any context the earlier dialogue may seem a bit weird. Nevertheless, when you step into the role of Abe, a Mudokon slave who doesn’t want to end up in a meat pie, that piece of dialogue will become part of your dangerous journey. All this happens in Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. It’s a 1997 puzzle platformer game in which you go from screen to screen. Such a gameplay style is a little similar to games like Prince of Persia (1989) and Heart of Darkness (1998).
The gameplay may feel a bit stiff in the beginning as Abe moves like he’s in a board game. This adds to the puzzle-like feel of the game. By trial and error you’ll figure out the most working solutions for certain parts. Knowing what to do is only part of the solution, as you have to be able to execute your plans. Some of the parts need almost perfect timing, thus the game is anything but easy. The game’s checkpoint system increases the difficulty level as some of the parts are almost unfairly long. You can affect to the difficulty level with your choices of saving other Mudokon slaves. These choices, however, will impact on the game’s ending as you need enough saved Mudokons for a good ending. Luckily, you don’t have to free all 99 of them to get it.
Abe is very vulnerable, and even falling from too high is fatal for him. The focus of the game is more in sneaking and using the environment against your enemies. The environment itself is quite interesting as there are a lot of secret areas for you to find. I have played the game since I was a kid, and I still haven’t found them all.
There are actually a plenty of things you can do as Abe. He has telepathic skills which you can use to solve some of the puzzles, open portals and possess Sligs – partly metallic sluggish guards armed with machine guns that you’ll be facing throughout the game. Additionally, you can talk, run, sneak, jump, roll, throw, push buttons, and pull levers. All of these skills are used. Abe even has an ability to fart – which is actually more used in the game’s sequel, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus (1998).
The world in which Abe lives is very interesting. Abe himself is a very sympathetic, clumsy character. The friends and foes he faces are bizarre in a good way. For example, there are spider-like creatures with big hands as their faces, and two-legged, blind alien dogs willing to tear you apart. Moreover, the places you visit are memorable. Abe has to go through dark, twisted plants, deadly no-man’s lands, and mysterious ancient temples on his way to freedom.
20 years after its release it’s not the nostalgia that makes the game great, it’s the game itself. Though the graphics may look a bit old, for a PlayStation game they’re good. In conclusion, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a masterpiece which is definitely worth playing.
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Publisher: GT Interactive Software
Platform: PlayStation, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows
Release date: 19.9.1997
Age rating: ELSPA 11+