If this is the first time you’ve come across Stranger’s Wrath, you might be surprised to hear that the game is actually almost a decade old. Come January, the critically acclaimed action shooter hybrid will have celebrated ten years since its original debut on the Xbox way back in 2005.
Thanks to the work of developer Just Add Water, you wouldn’t immediately peg Stranger’s Wrath as a game more than two console generations old. In 2010 the UK studio announced that it had several Oddworld projects in the pipeline, its first being an HD remaster of Stranger’s Wrath for PlayStation 3 and Vita. On these new platforms it was quick to garner praise from critics, scoring a terrific nine out of ten in our very own review.
Now, with the help of Square One Games, Stranger’s Wrath has made the leap to mobile and tablet, having launched last week on the App Store. It’s essentially the same enhanced version released a couple of years back, albeit optimised to suit touchscreen devices.
The first thing players will probably want to know is just how good the game looks. In short, having played Stranger’s Wrath on both Vita and PS3, I can tell you that it’s a decent port. Characters and environments have received a major facelift since the game’s first appearance on Xbox. However, as soon as you start moving around this beautifully realised game world, you may start running into technical difficulties.
Within ten seconds of leading Stranger through the tutorial stage, I encountered severe slowdown and screen-tearing. “Fair enough”, I thought as I closed the app and booted it again – a method that surprisingly works a treat with plenty of other games. However, after bumping into the same issues again, I brought up the in-game menu and was surprised to see a number of options allowing me to tweak performance settings. After briefly fiddling with the sliders, I jumped straight back in and everything was fine.
Still, during my couple of hours with Stranger’s Wrath, I couldn’t help feel as though I was missing out. To ensure a smooth running in-game experience, all of my sliders had to be kept slightly below the halfway mark. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a glutton for shiny graphics, the fact that my two-week-old iPad 3 couldn’t handle Stranger’s Wrath at an optimum resolution continued to bug me somewhat.
Visuals and performance issues aside, the game itself still holds up remarkably well. As a lone bounty hunter you’ll explore an eccentric depiction of the wild west, brought to life by that unmistakable Oddworld charm. As in the original, there’s an unconventional mix of both first and third camera angles as players switch between melee combat, navigation, and shooting.
Everything is controlled via the usual touchscreen set-up with virtuals joysticks and buttons making up for the lack of a physical gamepad. In truth, it works quite well even on a slightly smaller tablet thanks to smart positioning of icons. It’s still no substitute, however, and I would highly recommend seeking out a iOS or Android compatible game controller if you want to get the most enjoyment out of Stranger’s Wrath.
For this same reason, as well as the previously-mentioned technical hurdles, we would put both the PS3 and Vita versions above this mobile port without any hesitation. Still, for £3.99, if you don’t own either platform or a decent gaming PC, it’s one of the better finds to be had on the App Store. For those holding out for an Android release, Square One has confirmed this version will be launching “soon”.