Abe’s Oddysee was a big hit for PS1 gamers back in the day with impressive pre-rendered backgrounds making the game one of the best looking 2D platformers ever made. It was also an absolute beast of a meanie to play. Nevertheless, when we heard Just Add Water were remaking the game with the Unity engine we couldn’t wait to see how well the game had aged. Not so sure about the name change though.
For the most part, the game is the same as the original. The action still takes place on a 2D plane and the level layouts haven’t been changed. However, some sensible changes have been implemented, and for the better too.
Instead of the action taking place on individual screens that you’d enter from the side, they now take place on a seamless scrolling screen. This sounds like sacrilege, but JAW have adapted the game fantastically, losing none of the original’s feel of suddenly happening across traps or waking up the angry sligs.
So, now I’ve tried to assure the old fans that JAW haven’t ruined the game, I suppose we should inform the newbies what the game’s all about. You control Abe, a modoken creature trying to escape a factory and rescue his fellow co-workers when he discovers they’re about to become the main ingredient in the newest line of food products.
Abe is able to run, leap, sneak, climb and roll around the environments to avoid savage traps and make perfectly timed jumps between falling hazards. Via basic voice commands on the d-pad you’re able to command fellow workers to follow or wait for him until you find a portal to help them escape. Throughout the factory there are large daunting display screens indicating how many have escaped, been killed or remain waiting to be rescued/put into pies. A new feature to this game includes an “everybody” command that covers multiple modokens, making rescues much simpler. This feature was present in the second game and it’s a smart move from JAW adding it to this one.
The platforming side of the game remains faithful to the original, which while respectful to the original, can bring back a lot of frustration as the controls remain a little too sluggish by modern standards. In motion, Abe slides to a halt, but the running jumps are quite enjoyable when you master (completely fluke) a tricky series of leaps. Standing jumps between clusters of mines feel very stiff though and will cause many angry deaths. It’s hard to get too angry with the game though because of the fantastic quicksave feature. A tap of the PS4’s trackpad will create an instant quicksave file without diving into any menus. Then when you die or mess something else up, rather than use the sparse checkpoints you can hold the trackpad to load the quicksave resuming from any point you want. So with no backtracking to a difficult jump section, you’re free to keep at it and generate some rhythm and get through much faster. It feels a bit like cheating it’s so good, but you’re going to break something if you don’t use it (also, there’s no tutorial on how to use it, so don’t forget for the first hour like I did).
It’s not all platforming in Oddworld, Abe does have some offensive abilities beyond chucking the odd grenade. He can possess nearby sligs as long as he’s not in their line of fire. These creepy guards have a deadly machine gun to cut down fellow guards or the walking meatbags that are Oddworld’s version of guard dogs. The game’s quirky dark humour has aged well with the sligs providing most of the laughs, especially when you force them into traps or bicker with fellow colleagues by mimicking phrases to unlock password-protected areas.
Visually, the Unity engine has done a fine job of updating the game for today’s systems. The detail-rich backgrounds outdoors are particularly impressive, especially the deserts scenes of Scarabania or the tall forest sections later on.
Great news so far then, right? But then there’s the issue of the game’s price. The original PS1 game is available for £3.99 on the PS Store. This is a gob-smacking £17.99, roughly double what I’d expect to be honest, especially given the cost of past remakes and the fact that the game is only 4-6 hours long. If this included the second game (Abe’s Exodus) too, then the price would seem more reasonable. But it doesn’t, and the promise of a cross-buy on all Sony formats doesn’t feel like a good excuse either.
- Looks fantastic
- Glorious quicksave option
- New features improve the game
- £17.99? Oh dear
- A short game for that money
- Standing jumps are still frustrating
The Short Version: Dodgy pricing aside, there’s a lot to enjoy in this remake that is remarkably faithful to the original, while implementing new features that actively improve the experience. The game’s as challenging as ever, but it’s hard to resist trying to save every modoken from the clutches of the glukkons. Fingers crossed JAW are working on the second game already.