The aptly named “Oddworld” series is known for its wacky humour and brilliant puzzle platforming, so after playing the original Oddysee and Exoddus through one last time, I booted up New ‘n’ Tasty expecting, at the very least, a similar experience I got from the original.
New ‘n Tasty is a complete remake, not a HD remaster, of the original Abe’s Oddysee, built from the ground up in the Unity engine. Every asset and texture used in the game was recreated to create a visually impressive experience that attempts to capture the successes of the original. The team did a fantastic job in recreating Rupture Farms and the trials in Scrabania and Paramania. Visually the game is absolutely breathtaking, from the darkness of the Processing Plants to the bright wilderness.
The amazing graphics aside though, I feel like the charm of the original was sacrificed in making it look good. Obviously, the game isn’t the same as the original and they had to try something new, but the crystal clear graphics kill the mystery. What was in the dark mysterious backgrounds? Well now we can see back there. New ‘n’ Tasty’s major graphical downfall is that every area looks like Abe is running across a thin line, whereas in the original it didn’t quite feel like that. For example, the platforming sections in Scrabania that require you to use a camel like creature called Elum to leap across gaps in the path and avoid mines to get to safety. That platforming segment is literally just a straight line with a few jumps, really killing the child-like wonder and mystery.
Ok, I know, I’m obsessed with the originals too much. But in my eyes, the point of a remake is to capture that charm of the original, and transfer it to the current gen with minimal to no sacrifice. Playing the originals was such a joyful experience – regardless of the number of deaths I had or how frustrated I got, I was having fun. With this game, I found myself taking breaks after an hour of play.
Admittedly though, this is the only fault I’ve really found while playing this game. New ‘n’ Tasty is still a great experience from beginning to end. The platforming and controls are really tight and have weight to them, as they should. The game also does a great job in teaching the player basic mechanics without tutorials, although there were sections of the game (such as unlocking the Shrykull power – more on that later) where you are literally just told how it works, rather than shown by doing.
Each area has its own unique element that provides challenge too, be it the ravenous Paramites that hunt Abe down upon site or brawl other members of their own species, the creepy Scrabs that run from Abe and only fight back in packs of when they’re backed into a corner or the red laser gates that activate traps and alert guards upon detecting motion through them. Sometimes the different elements are even mixed together, providing an even more challenging level.
Abe’s task in each area remains the same as it always has – to find his fellow Mudokons and free them from their slavery in Rupture farms. Luckily, Abe was born with the magical power of possession (note: his blue skin, which emphasises that he is different to the others) and is eventually gifted the ability to transform into a half-Paramite half-Scrab demi-god named Shrykull, destroying anything and anyone in the area around him. This power sounds overpowered, but the times where you have the option of activating it are very few and often have an intended use, limiting what you can actually do with it. This isn’t a bad thing though as it adds another tool to your puzzle-solving arsenal that you can occasionally play around with without restriction.
The plot is very light with dark and deep undertones, much like the other Oddworld games. At base level, Abe is just trying to escape being a slave with his fellow Mudokons. The main plot though, is that Abe uncovers that the bosses of Rupture Farms, a race called Glukkons, are running out of options to make their snacks with, as the number of paramites, scrabs and other Oddworld creatures are dwindling. As Abe spies on their company meeting, the leader and head honcho Molluck reveals his plan to use Mudokon meat in their future snacks. Shock!! Horror!! Abe plans to run, chased by the Sligs who work as guards and prison wardens, so that he can escape this nightmare-ish factory. He eventually is set on a quest to go back to Rupture Farms and bring down the system, rescuing others of his kind along the way. So there’s humanoids being farmed and used as meat, slavery, even a bit of racism (Abe’s blue skin tone was the cause of many beatings from the Sligs when he was a slave). Like I said, dark and deep undertones.
The story is told in such a genius way though: Every line is told from Abe’s perspective and is spoken like a poem. Each line rhymes, similarly to Child of Light, while adding depth and keeping the player interested. Even though I knew the story, hearing Abe’s new voice speak in rhymes was fantastic and kept me wanting to hear more.
The voice acting and sound effects are great too. In fact, I’d say that the backing music is one of the few things that truly captures the charm of the original, from the updated drum-heavy theme of slig possession to the quiet ambience of the Monsaic Lines. For lack of a better phrase, the developers totally nailed the soundtrack.
New ‘n’ Tasty is a great platformer that is accessible to newcomers and series lovers alike, but it just doesn’t have the same charm of the original. Pick it up for an updated experience, but afterwards don’t forget – Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus for the PC and PS1 are both still available to fill that Oddworld craving.