Allow me to be upfront with you for a second. Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty was a game I had no intention of playing. It was only through a weird turn of events that I found myself sitting in front of the TV, solving puzzles and jumping from one platform to another.
I’ve been totally ignorant of this series until now.
So no, I can’t compare this to Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. I can’t tell you how it’s different or what it improves on, as I’m a newbie. But I can tell you just how much I’ve enjoyed it as a standalone product. And I’ve really, really enjoyed it.
New ‘N’ Tasty is a recreation/remake of 1997’s Abe’s Oddysee, a cult classic on Sony’s original PlayStation.
It follows the story of Abe, a measly slave who works for the biggest meat factory on Oddworld: Rupture Farms. When Abe eavesdrops on the wrong conversation, he finds out that him and all of his friends are planned to be the company’s newest snack product, dubbed “New ‘n’ Tasty”. Naturally, he flees. The rest of the game is about Abe’s journey through Oddworld and how he learns his place in it.
It’s strangely dark, but that’s a big part of the appeal. From the industrialized hallways of Rupture Farms to the dangerous Scrabanian Temple, the game’s setting carries an eerie personality about it. An eerie personality which ultimately helps define both Oddworld the place and Oddworld the game.
Most games make the player feel like a visitor to their world, but a select few can turn you into a resident. And that’s precisely what New ‘N’ Tasty does. With that said, it wouldn’t be very challenging to write an entire review/article centering around the world Abe lives in. But that would be doing this game an injustice, because it’s just that. A game.
Thankfully, New ‘N’ Tasty delivers some…tasty gameplay. Terrible jokes aside, this is a puzzle-platformer that makes weakness a strength. Abe, and therefore you, are nearly defenseless in all aspects. His jump is limited, he runs at a normal pace, and has no mode of attack. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this makes things tricky.
Enemies are to be avoided, not obliterated. That’s where the puzzle side of things comes in. In order to find a positive outcome, it takes both a mastery of Abe’s skills and an understanding of what surrounds you…and more importantly, how to use those surroundings.
All of this should sound moderately familiar to anyone who’s played a puzzle-platformer before, but there are two distinct features that make things unique.
The first is that Abe can occasionally possess the minds of enemies. From this point they can be used to pull levers out of reach, kill other foes, or jump off a cliff to amuse your sick sense of humor. Taking over the bad guys is an incontestably cool feature and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t bring me great joy.
Secondly, you’re not in this just for yourself. Along the way you’ll come across other slaves to free. Enter “Gamespeak”. It’s really quite simple. There are a few different commands mapped to each of the buttons on the D-Pad. Phrases like “follow me” or “wait here” can help you lead your fellow Mudokons to glorious freedom, required for the good ending. If you want to truly test yourself try saving them all.
The average player -like me- will get their slice just from beating the game, because honestly it’s pretty hard. I played and beat New ‘N’ Tasty on “normal” difficulty. Softies will appreciate the included “easy” mode, while veterans are bound to stick with “hard” mode.
There’s only one fault I have with New ‘N’ Tasty, and that’s the misinformation regarding co-op. With literally no difference whatsoever (aside from some text letting you know when Player 1/2 has died), there’s little incentive to stray away from singleplayer.
It’s perplexing when you take into account that we’re talking about a distinct mode all by itself. And to be truthful it’s nothing short of cheap. But worse than that, it’s a big letdown. If there was ever a game that could reap rewards from local multiplayer, then this is it. With all of its trial/error gameplay and fun puzzles, the possibilities are endless.
It might seem harsh to take away a whole star just because of a game’s multiplayer, but when it’s exactly the same as the singleplayer I think that’s appropriate. I’d prefer to either include the mode as something different or not at all.
But at the end of the day, Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty is -to put it plainly- great. To be a little less flat: it’s brilliantly cinematic, thoroughly exciting, and creative around-the-clock.
I often hear people complaining about older games being remade. And I can see where they’re coming from. Oftentimes, these games are made simply to prey on people’s nostalgia and get a quick buck. But MY argument is that any remake with enough love and care deserves a second go. I’d love to say more, but a game this creative should be played instead of talked about.
Through New ‘N’ Tasty I was able to be sucked into a different world and immersed in fun, unique gameplay. And if you ask me, that’s what gaming is all about.