Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty review

I’d originally planned to open this review with a section which discusses HD remakes and how they’ve become nothing more than a buzzword to resell old products. The plan was to talk about how in some cases, such as in Marvel vs Capcom 2, they’re needed to ensure that older titles don’t get forgotten as the industry – players, retailers and publishers alike – rush forward in the never-ending pursuit of the new.

Then I was going to list off some games that didn’t really need a HD remake – “Widely available games don’t need a higher resolution and so on,” I’d say, pointing to some recent examples which fit exactly that description. Then to bring it all to a close, I planned to end this now fictitious opener by stating that Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty! was a shining example of how it’s done.

Oddworld_New_n_Tasty_Review_06The plan was to fall in line and sing its praises. For the most part, it’s an excellent update of a classic game which is sure to bring in some new fans. But New ‘n’ Tasty! isn’t always that tasty, and thanks to some technical issues, it sometimes leaves a bitter aftertaste.

First released in 1997, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was praised for its unique art style, its message, and above all else, it was a blast. In an industry fixated on guns and shooting things, Abe’s unusual 2d-take take and focus on environmentalism issues was inherently different to what was expected from a video game. Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! knows what made Abe’s Oddysee such a cult hit in the first place. It doesn’t revolutionize in the same way it did previously in ’97, nor does it need to. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, update the graphics and you’ve got a hit.

And those graphics are at least fantastic – and not just when compared to the original. New ‘n’ Tasty takes the 2-d design and renders everything in 3D, while retaining the side-on gameplay. None of the detail has been lost and the developer has clearly worked hard to ensure that despite the updated technology at their disposal, the remake remains as faithful to what fans remember while appealing to modern expectations.

At its core, New ‘n’ Tasty! is a puzzle-platformer. Players guide Abe through a world littered with traps, electric fences, and a monstrous amount of different ways to blow Abe into a million tiny meat chunks. Abe’s a peculiar choice for a game’s protagonist. If Mario is gaming’s answer to Superman, then Abe is gaming’s answer to Bambi. Abe is everyone’s last pick to be a hero, yet he takes up the cause without question, and that makes him instantly endearing.

He’s a klutz, though. Running too fast causes him to stumble, often leading to trips off the side of a platform. Jumping near a ledge doesn’t always result in Abe grabbing onto it to avoid danger. Sometimes he’ll just jump forward, and stand around looking gormless before getting pounced on by a gang of angry slogs.

Thing is, though, Abe’s uselessness doesn’t ever become an issue. Sure, his idiocy – or the player’s over-confidence – is the likely reason for death or a restart, but you accept that Abe isn’t perfect. His clumsiness is just one of the reasons he’s so likeable. It’s part of his charm.

Put it this way: if Abe was locked in an empty room, he’d still manage to kill himself several times over. He’s may not be a hero in the traditional sense, but after a few hours of seeing him subjected to such torture, it’s hard not to root for him. He’s the underdog, the plucky yet inept hero who we all want to see succeed even when his own idiocy causes his own downfall.

Abe’s story is that of oppression in forced working conditions. Abe – a Mudokon forced to work endless hours in a meat processing plant – happens across a plan to turn him and his fellow Mudokons into meat-pops. Abe gets caught and locked up, before eventually escaping then running for his life while also trying to save as many of his people as he can. The story is as fitting and relevant today as it was in 1997. Abe and co. are forced to work tirelessly for little-to-no pay and have no rights… much like the sweatshops responsible for those cheap-to-make, high profit trainers or T-shirts we all wear.

It’s depressing in all the right ways. It makes you think. It puts you in the place of the downtrodden and allows people in first-world countries to realize the hell these workers endure for a dollar a day. Abe’s story is one of the little guy rising up against the establishment. In reality, the little guy just goes home and dies in poverty only to be replaced by someone younger and more desperate.

New ‘n’ Tasty! is a checklist of everything you want from a game. From a graphics perspective, its beautiful-ugliness helps to set the tone. The industrial setting of Rupture Farms is thick with grime and misery, while the open wild-west landscapes of the later levels help to alleviate the burden Abe carries with him.

As a game, New ‘n’ Tasty! is tough without ever being too tough. It’s hard, but that’s because Abe isn’t a trained marine or an agile-but-fat plumber somehow capable of running endlessly. The challenge comes from the player teaching Abe how to act, how to evolve against insurmountable odds.

However…

New ‘n’ Tasty! may sound like a gamer’s delight, and it’s important to note that for most of you, it will be. But that sometimes turns into a nightmare, and threatens to sour what should have been a tasty experience. There’s bugs and Oddworld_New_n_Tasty_Review_02design oversights. Some of these are forgiveable, but some of them are condemnable. In my playthrough I experienced scripts which failed to trigger – preventing any progress and requiring a restart – and areas where it was possible to become stuck in an inescapable loop of death due to an issue with the level’s design, requiring me to restart the whole stage.

In one secret area, I triggered a lever to electrocute any enemies who passed through a gate – only to end up being trapped on the wrong side of the gate with no escape. In the Paramonian Trials area, I needed to scavenge a rock from a basket, but no matter what I did – and despite other such baskets being littered throughout the game – the basket simply refused to spawn a rock. After two hours of trying without success, a quick google confirmed that this was, in fact, a bug.

But the worst of bug came right in the final moments of the campaign. The game decided to freeze up after a period of gradually lagging whenever the autosave function kicked in. Thinking (not unreasonably) that the issue would be resolved by resetting my console, I turned the PS4 off and on again, and booted up the game for a second time. That in itself is rather annoying, but what happened next was the real kicker.

The game had deleted all of my saves.

Despite my save being blank, hammering “X” over it loaded it up to the title screen. Only that didn’t really work; it was just a glimmer of false hope to keep my spirit up before it was excised entirely. Despite loving the game, despite putting up with some unforgivable glitches throughout my time with it, my save was gone through no clear fault of my own.

There was a patch on July 22 to fix any issues people were having with the autosave, but despite downloading it before I began my first play session, it didn’t help. My Abe was destined to never escape RuptureFarms unless I was willing to start the game again. My Abe died in the final hour trying to save his fellow modokons. In my New ‘n’ Tasty! the real villain – a game bug – won.

New ‘n’ Tasty! is utterly superb when it works. But when it doesn’t, New ‘n’ Tasty! becomes Old ‘n’ Bitter!

My recommendation is this: Some tims ga mes br eA k and

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In the interests of being objective, just because my experience turned into a nightmare towards the end, doesn’t mean yours will. Bugs are often unpredictable, and you might play it all the way through without any issues – and the developer has done a good job of acknowledging the problems mentioned and has assured us that further patches are close to being released. When it isn’t bugging out, New ‘n’ Tasty is utterly phenomenal. Just please be aware of the fact that it has some issues at the moment before you make that purchase.

New ‘n’ Tasty! is a great remake which faithfully updates a classic while bringing it in line with modern design sensibilities, but the transition hasn’t been as smooth as you might have hoped. The remaining issues should be addressed soon however, and we have no reason not to believe the assurances we were given. With that in mind, the score you see below reflects the experience you can expect without the presence of several game-breaking bugs. Just please be aware of them prior to diving in.

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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland

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Born in Cyrodiil but raised in Ferelden, more commonly known as England. Wesley Copeland is a passionate writer with more opinions than an ostrich.
Wesley Copeland

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