#380 Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus

Posted: 13th May 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

147th played so far

Genre: Platform
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Publisher: GT Interactive

Abe is adorable. He is one of the ugliest game heroes ever to grace a home console but he is adorable.

The Oddworld series has had a bit of resurgence in the last year thanks to Steam and the revamping of games in glorious HD (which is how we later came to own a copy of Shadow of the Colossus).

Our Thoughts

For those who played Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee the release of Abe’s Exoddus came as a breath of fresh air because of one thing: a quicksave function. In truth there are improvements in nearly every way but it is this quicksave that ensured this game a place on the list rather than the original.

So why was this quicksave such a necessity? Because this game is bloody hard. Both of the Abe games do not really have a difficulty curve but a light slope followed by a climbing wall. I’d argue this light slope isn’t there at all. It pays to quicksave after completing every screen because you do not know what horrors await you in the next area that may cause instant kills. In the original, where there were set automatic saving points, a death could catapult you so far back that it’s no wonder gamers approached this release with due trepidation and painkillers.

In truth, this difficulty level can reach such extremes, which anyone who played the Fleech areas will immediately know what I mean, that you want to stop playing and slowly cradle yourself in the corner next to the wastepaper bin before even thinking of trying it again. It is not really since Paradroid where there are large sections of the game so hard that it is almost rendered unplayable. However, with this game you keep trying because not only are the rewards actually worth the slog but the game has something most games would kill for; a decent sense of humour… and this has it in spades.

Okay so the humour is not sophisticated. In many cases I was reduced to fits of giggles by pressing the return key to make him fart on command. It’s also great fun making him slam into walls to have Abe make his annoyed sound. Even the simple exchanges between you and fellow Mudokons are pretty damned funny.

So this is a charismatic game that can also be mind-numbingly hard, so how do you play the damned thing? Abe, as scrawny as he is, is pretty damned powerful. True, he has no gun and dies pretty easily… but he comes back to life (because he is made of doves?), can summon portals and even possess the bodies of his enemies. How do you unpossess? Well you can’t… they just explode… which makes Abe chuckle to himself. Talk about black humour.

The main point of the game itself is to rescue your fellow Mudokons from slavery and to stop the evil Glukkons from turning the bones of your ancient ancestors into a Slurm-like beverage (both of which appear to be highly addictive). However, the quicksave allows for some fun… namely the ‘accidental’ killing of Mudokons by falling pieces of rock, bullets and meatgrinders… so wrong.

Then again, the little annoying creeps do deserve it… You get Abe rescuing them, and then they get themselves addicted to this cannibalistic drink, get themselves captured and blinded… it’s all actually quite a horrible storylines, making the dark humour actually slightly creepy. These blind guys, for example, aren’t just blind – they actually have their eyes sown shut, actually quite painful to think about.

While a lot of the game is genuinely hard, there is also a bit of fake difficulty in the whole thing thanks to the controls. They are partially Prince of Persia based, down to the jump and pull yourself up option. The difficulty here is in their precision – aside from being sluggish at times, they can be fairly imprecise, making it difficult to get Abe to respond when you want to. Case in point being that Fleech area, where part of the solution requires you to pull a lever, while you’re in a hurry – it feels more like luck whether you make it than quick reflexes.

Even so… It’s a tough game, but with rewards if you can get through it. Just be prepared to die plenty even in the initial tutorial area.

Final Thoughts

When I first played this it was as a demo that I received for free with a magazine. As such I played the initial levels so many times that it was ridiculous. Strangely though… it has not suffered from the passage of 13 years. True it is not graphically superiour but so much in the story and the humour resonates as much today as it did back then (perhaps even more so because I get the jokes).

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