Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was originally planned to be the first of five games, and in a way that ended up being very close to true. There was Abe’s Exoddus, Munch’s Oddysee, and Stranger’s Wrath, but none of them ended up being the full, proper sequel to Abe’s first adventure. It’s been 24 years since the original Oddworld and 16 since the last spin-off game, Stranger’s Wrath, so it’s long past time for Abe to get back to his story. Today sees the release of Oddworld: Soulstorm, and with it the Oddworld series is finally at the 40% complete mark.
As a note, this announcement was originally planned to be a review but seeing as plans are a shorter word for wishful thinking the codes weren’t able to be sent out until yesterday. What I can say, though, is that the first level and a half of the PC version feels great to play, with Abe being every bit as agile on the platforms as he ever was. The Glukkons are still terrible in every possible way, Sligs are always happy to gun down anything that moves, and Abe’s only defense is being smarter and more nimble than his enemies in the 2.5D levels. At the start of the story Abe is no kind of savior, but rather a tired Mudokon who just wants a rest after the events of the first game (and possibly Exoddus?), but that’s simply not going to happen. The cave is under attack, and while escape doesn’t require saving any of his fellow Mudokons for the first level that’s going to change as the story quickly ramps up. Processes like crafting and talking are for later, but you do still get an introduction to the inventory system that lets Abe throw water on fire or the highly flammable Soulstorm brew on fires to clear out wooden obstacles in the path. Changing out and throwing items is a little awkward at first, but I found myself getting used to it and having great fun setting Sligs on fire in the small chunk of level 2 I’ve gotten to play.
What I’ve seen so far feels like classic Oddworld, albeit a bit kinder on startup. The original game had super-hidden areas right in the first level that ramped up the challenge, and while Soulstorm’s beginning has its secrets too they’re definitely less obscure and homicidal. The generous checkpoints mean you can experiment without worry, and while I died more than a few times it was in service to poking around finding what I could discover. Topping off the beginning was the story, which starts with a lengthy cut-scene setting the stage for Abe’s new quest and rise to the Mudokon savior.
It’s been far too long since a new Oddworld but the quest is finally underway again. Abe has a long way to go to become more than the lost, scared Mudokan who just wants a break, and Soulstorm promises to be a major step on that journey. Oddworld: Soulstorm is out today complete with launch trailer, and with any luck we can get the next major game in the Oddworld cycle before another 24 years have passed.