Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey was considered by many to be one of the better 2D platformers available on the original PlayStation, so it’s no surprise that a shiny reimagined version now exists in New ‘n’ Tasty. What is surprising is that it’s not just a cash in on nostalgia, but rather a game that feels fresh, exciting, and welcoming to all fans of the genre even if they didn’t play the original, which is exactly how I came in.
If you sat down to play New ‘n’ Tasty for the first time, you’d never guess by looking at it that it’s an updated version of a game from nearly 20 years ago. The artistic style is very appealing, and it looks like every character model, background, cinematic, and texture was completely rebuilt.
Just like the original, New ‘n’ Tasty has you play as Abe, a cute, unassuming character with a terrible case of flatulence. Abe works at a meat processing plant where he happily goes about his business until he overhears a conversation involving plans to turn Abe’s own kind into the next big product. You take control of Abe as he flees the scene, gaining new powers and rescuing his fellow Mudokons before they’re all turned into an edible delicacy.
One of the best things about Abe is his innocence. He doesn’t wield big guns or beat up on opponents, but instead chooses brains over brawn, defeating most of his enemies in a contextual way. While Abe does have the ability to use a chant to temporarily take over other enemies, and there is at least one part where grenades are involved, I spent most of my time with him defeating foes via platforming, or just sneaking past them.
The level design really plays to this strategy, as there are plenty of mines, cliff edges, or falling rocks to separate life from your opponents without directly interacting with them. At the same time, these levels are often large puzzles, requiring you to defeat enemies, pull levers, and use your chant in a specific order to unlock doors and progress. There is a bit of trial and error involved, and a few frustrating checkpoints popped up from time to time, but for the most part the puzzles were fair, yet challenging and enjoyable.
There’s a lot of variety in the levels, too. Every stage is just a little bit different than the last and requires something you weren’t previously tasked with, or at the very least involves a new combination of objectives. Aside from the levels that call for the completion of a puzzle to advance, there are also chase levels that only require you to run until you’re safely out of the reach of enemies. Abe occasionally has to rely on riding an Elum, a small two-legged animal that can run faster and jump higher than Abe. Then there’s also secret levels, which were usually small rooms with a bunch of Mudokons and a quick puzzle that had to be solved before Abe could summon a portal and rescue them.
The only brief downside to Abe is some of his movement. He’s responsive enough, but there are some small sections that require more precise platforming than Abe can offer. I found I was consistently left at the mercy of when Abe’s animation would end, rather than when I stopped moving the analog stick. And since Abe would often taken an extra step or two, or slide to a stop, this made precision jumping between lethal obstacles a bit of a chore.
Having said all that, Abe’s Odyssey is still a real charmer. In a gaming world packed with HD remakes, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty deserves to be judged as more than a game re-skinned for a new console generation. Its gorgeous visuals make it look like something that was built from the ground up for the first time, and the platforming puzzles are every bit as smart and challenging as what you’ll find in any game today. It’s not perfect, but between the breadth of content, the fantastic visuals, the entertaining levels and challenging puzzles, there’s enough here to recommend it to just about any fan of the genre, whether you played the original or not.
Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey New ‘n’ Tasty is available now on PS4, and is coming soon to PC, Mac, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, and Xbox One.