Gamers’ Republic: Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee [2000]

Date: January, 2000

Author: Brady Fiechter

Source: Gamers' Republic, Issue 20, p. 38

playstation2 previewdeveloper oddworldpublisher gt interactiveavailable late 2000

Something quite extraordinary is brewing in the fertile minds at Oddworld. It’s called Munch’s Oddysee, and propelled by the boundary-shattering power of the PlayStation 2, it is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

The second game in the Oddworld Quintology and the third adventure for the tireless Abe, Munch’s Oddysee will be exceptionally true to the rich, dim Oddworld universe, which could previously only be realized in a 2D reality. “Aesthetically speaking, we want the environments to be in check with what was previously seen from Oddworld’s 2D games,” says Lorne Lanning, the game’s creative director. “This universe has been planned from the beginning. Meaning, we introduced Abe and Oddworld in 2D while always planning to evolve them into 3D when the technology was there. Of course, we will be creating new environments, but it’s all in the same design theme as to what makes Oddworld’s landscape unique.”

Many of the same creatures from previous games in the series will populate this new world, but they will be much more advanced, exhibiting life cycle patterns that imbue them with uncommonly realistic intelligence and habits. As for the new enemies joining the ranks, “some will be much larger in scale, some will have strange co-dependent relationships, some will be aquatic,” says Lanning. “You’ll also start seeing more herds and the like.”

The Abe character will play a central role in Munch’s Oddysee, but eventually the wheel-chair-bound Munch enters the picture, and you must utilize both characters to achieve your goals. The gameplay borrows from elements in the first two games, but the world interaction and GameSpeak process has become more focused and evolved. “We are simulating entire life cycles for all the characters in the world, all the communities, and even the landscape. We are truly going for a ‘world’ simulation approach rather than gauntlet types of puzzles that you saw in our previous games.”

Munch’s Oddysee has ample growing time before it launches with the PlayStation 2 late next year, but even in its infant state, the game is showing a remarkable sense of atmosphere and visual fantasy; just the way the magnificent creatures in the game animate, with a depth and sophistication never seen before, creates a sense of realism that has been previously unimaginable. It is understandable when Lanning says, “It will be more like visiting Oddworld than playing Oddworld.”