Release Date: 19/12/12
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD Review
“Hello” – “Hello” – “Follow Me” – “Okay”. These few words may sound familiar to you. It’s a quick and simple conversation that revolutionised the way in which a 2D puzzle/adventure game was played. The ability to talk to your fellow people – issuing commands to follow you, wait, and even attack – was just one of the things special about Abe’s Oddysee, the first game in the Oddworld series. Of course nowadays such a thing would be considered normal in many games but to one that was released in ’97 this was something truly awesome. As the title suggests the land and inhabitants of Oddworld are strange, but more importantly are ingenious and memorable. It was this, combined with the revolutionary “Gamespeak” which made Abe’s Oddysee, and its sequel Abe’s Exodus the following year, two of the best games on the PlayStation.
A few years later came the next generation of consoles, and with it came another Oddworld sequel. At a time when any 2D platform game was pretty much forced into a 3D sequel; Munch’s Oddysee was released on Xbox, switching its allegiance from Sony to Microsoft. And now this game has been released again, exactly the same as it was in 2001, but with a high-definition upscale and trophy/achievement support. The rendered cut-scenes are old and unchanged, but the new HD in-game visuals are clear and crisp. That being said there are still some frame-rate issues that have come along as result.
The focus of the game switches from Abe to our new character Munch – the last of an underwater race known as Gabbits – who is taken prisoner and experimented on. Fortunately Abe still makes a return as a playable character alongside Munch, and the ability to switch between characters in order to solve puzzles is a new and welcome one to the series. Each playable character has his own strengths and weaknesses; as Munch you can swim with ease – whereas Abe would drown. You are very slow on land, but hop in a wheelchair and you can speed around as fast as if you’d grabbed caffeine from one of the vending machines in Oddworld. As Abe you can once again chant and take over Sligs (enemies) to do your bidding, but to do so this time around you will need Spooce, a shrub that can be found all over the place. You can still save your fellow Mudokon race by talking to them, and as Munch you can save your Fuzzle friends by doing the same thing. All these names may sound confusing but will hopefully give you some insight into the odd and wonderful races that live in Oddworld, along with the likes of Scrabs, Paramites, Glukkons and many other strange creatures.
Despite applying most of the same basic points of gameplay that were used in both of the first two Oddworld games – mainly Gamespeak and possessing Sligs with Abe’s chanting – Munch’s Oddysee still suffers from a lack of what was so great about Abe’s Oddysee and its sequel, Exodus. Mainly the fact that it is set in a 3D world, rather than a 2D ‘side-scroller’ which suited the style of gameplay perfectly. Movement can also be awkward – you will often find yourself running in a direction you didn’t want to go, and this can be a big problem when you’re trying to be precise when solving puzzles, and avoiding enemies and traps. There is also a significant lack of soundtrack here; only in cut-scenes did I really notice any music, but during actual gameplay it is merely a variety of various sounds every now and again. This would be considered good if it was actually used for dramatic of atmospheric effect… but it is not.
There are some seriously thought-provoking moments where you will have to assess your situation, and get through an area with or without your fellow companions. Occasions where you have to keep going back and forth – as you can only carry one Mudokon at a time – can get a bit tedious, but any area once done will leave you feeling accomplished. As much as I love Oddworld, or at least Abe’s previous adventures, I really had to push myself to reach the end of Munch’s Oddysee. There are some great ideas here and the charm of the weird and wonderful characters returns, but past this there is little more to keep you going to the bitter end.. and certainly not to recuse every last Mudokon and Fuzzle either!
Munch’s Oddysee was a brave attempt at bringing Oddworld into the 3D era. In some ways it succeeds – staying true to it's roots whilst bringing in new gameplay elements – and the game is most definitely fun until a certain point when it becomes repetitive. Dodgy frame rates, some fuzzy noises in certain sounds effects, and graphical glitches; 11 years ago and this might have been forgiven, but even with a HD re-vamp it is things like this that remind you that you’re still playing an old game.
- Full of charm and ingenious ideas
- This is Oddworld!
- Awkward controls
- Fun soon wears off
Oddworld was very special to me when I was a kid. I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for that I would never have even given Munch’s Oddysee a second look. There are still some refreshing ideas here and I would urge anyone who hasn’t played it before to do so. But then again if you haven’t played any Oddworld game before then you shouldn’t even be reading this. Go and play Abe’s Oddysee now!