Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! ReviewPrice:
Just Add Water
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, X360
This remake of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was first released on Playstation 4 last year. Us PC aficionados have had to wait another nine months to revisit Abe's escape from Rupture Farms and subsequent liberation of his Mudokon buddies. Fortunately, it was well worth the wait, because New 'n' Tasty is about as good as a remake gets.
Just Add Water's update of Oddworld Inhabitants' platforming classic goes far beyond the HD up-res of many "remade" games. Instead, Abe's Oddysee has been completely rebuilt in Unity. Its environments are rendered in gloriously detailed 3D, while the flip-screens have been jettisoned in favour of a scrolling camera that twists and turns as the action unfolds on screen, lending a sense of depth and solidity to the world Abe resides in.
The result is a game that feels far cleaner and smoother than the grubby pixels and stuttered action present in the original game. But it's equally important to note what Just Add Water haven't changed. The animations are pretty much identical; abe runs, rolls, leaps and farts precisely how I remember. Meanwhile, the game's music and sound effects are also largely the same; the pneumatic stutter of a patrolling Slig, the hoarse shriek of an aggrieved Scrab. Both are crucial to retaining thematic consistency between the two games. The only notable difference is the voice-acting for Abe himself. His tone is slightly deeper and goofier than before, but it fits with his character well enough.
Most of all, Just Add Water deserve credit for how they've retained and embellished the exquisite design of Oddworld's odd world; its seamless detail, its casual violence, its toothy satire. Abe's character is displayed far more clearly on screen. His big yellow eyes bulge with fear as he hides in a shadow from enemies, or scrunch up with laughter after squeezing out a squeaky fart. You inevitably feel more attached to him as he races through the stained gunmetal corridors of Rupture farms, or leaps across the silhouetted Scrab pens of the stockyards.
It isn't just Abe who has been given an additional dose of detail. The ubiquitous Sligs make for delightfully boorish cannon fodder, muttering to themselves about shooting Abe and getting paid, and occasionally breaking out into songs such as the Wizard of Oz inspired "If I only had a bomb." But my favourite Oddworld critters are still the Scrabs. Part crustacean, part bird, all deadly, I still feel a jolt of fear whenever Abe is forced into the same proximity as one, knowing that a single poke from its massive beak will result in instant death.
New 'n' Tasty certainly doesn't shy away from Oddworld's messy, slapstick violence. If anything the chunks are even chunkier when Abe stumbles into a minefield or obliterates a possessed Slig. It positively encourages you to create your own bloody sketches by placing a fellow Mudokon conveniently on a trapdoor, or letting you shout "Look out!" to another Slig before filling him full of lead. Like every other aspect of Oddworld's design, the violence and the humour are so perfectly balanced that they're inseparable.