Episode 1: The Shrink

The debut instalment of “Oddworld: Story Stones” takes a comprehensive look at the frightening, yet enigmatic character who made a brief appearance in the unaired commercial for Abe’s Oddysee. Although the Shrink was played primarily for scares—as well as a tidal swell of raw oddness—as with all the inhabitants of Oddworld, there exists an extensive history that we’ve excavated from various interviews, websites and literary sources. This video dossier is derived entirely from facts and collects everything that is currently known about the Shrink. Prepare to be blown away by the amazing depths of THE ODD.


Video Transcript

The Shrink, also known as the Guardian Angel, or just simply the Angel, is a sophisticated artificial intelligence unit. Designed by the cold and mechanical Vykkers Conglomerate, and constructed at a dedicated supply factory, these mechanical spiders with a TV for a face serve a multi-faceted purpose. They are prioritised to keep high-value captives productive, but are also effective at motivating the Mudokon Labor Force at Magog Cartel facilities.[1] The Vykkers Conglomerate are also known to employ Shrinks as diplomats for conferring with other Mudos families, and the Lady Margaret utilises at least one Shrink to babysit her unhatched eggs.[5]

With proper care and maintenance, a Shrink can stay online for up to 500 years.[3] However, due to their cumbersome design, they are considered disposable and are rarely transported outside of their operational factory.[2] As such, they are constantly tethered by a crane-like arm to a railway-like track in the ceiling and are powered by the surrounding superstructure.[3]

 

Shrink_Concept_by_Farzad_Varahramyan
The Shrink descends to interrogate the captive Mudokon terrorist.

 

In order to achieve a compatible personality and a sense of empathy (as well as the handy skill of manipulation), all Shrink unit are meticulously programmed with the function of self-awareness. As such, a nasty little glitch has cropped up in Shrink units—they have developed an acute inclination for self-preservation. Despite constant attempts by Vykker scientists, the persistent glitch remained unfixed.[3]

While there are many Shrinks around Mudos, perhaps one for every large-scale factory, there are two notable units that have appeared in the Oddworld Quintology. The first was the resident psychologist of RuptureFarms 1029. This chilling character played an important role in the Mudokon lifestyle at RuptureFarms, helping to alleviate problems with morale. If traditional psychology didn’t take effect, the unproductive mud might be jabbed with a medical syringe or encouraged to get back to work by display of the Shrinks’ many serrated saw blades. [6]

Following Abe’s insurrection and the subsequent fall of RuptureFarms 1029, the Shrink was utilised by the vexed CEO, Molluck the Glukkon, to wrangle a confession out of the captive Mudokon terrorist.[7] This confession likely would have been used as evidence during Molluck’s inevitable trial with his mother, the Lady Margaret.

The second notable Shrink is located in one of the Vykkers Labs facilities. This unit, which is known to be 180 years old, has been tasked with the sole purpose of keeping the captive Mudokon Queen, Sam, in an active state, as well as both content and rational.[4] Sam’s psychological health is inherently linked to her birthing performance, and fresh Mudokon Labor Eggs make the Vykkers Conglomerate a lot of moolah. The demand for more eggs is always high; ergo, the Shrink must use its psychological expertise to make sure Sam keeps on smiling.

 

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Sam is kept company by Artifical Intelligence. Note that more than one Shrink is depicted here.

 

However, the Shrink can see that Sam’s condition is worsening. The writing is on the wall, Sam has become suicidal and she’s quickly losing the will to live. And if Sam dies, the Shrink is well-aware that it will be effectively retired. By the natural law of attrition, the Shrink has inherited a sense of grave paranoia. It is constantly on edge, and it has started to investigate schemes to plot an elaborate escape from the Vykkers before Sam bites the dust. The Shrink is at an impasse though: As with all Shrink models, its control device and voltage support are not mobile. In other words, there is no way it can escape without killing itself, and attempting to find a solution to this seemingly impossible conundrum is starting to haunt it day and night.

Yet, by an odd twist of fate, this frigid, machine-driven guardian has actually begun to sympathise with Sam and her egregious state of entrapment. It is almost starting to feel something like sorrow for her, but whenever it comes close to accepting their kindred state of affairs, Sam explodes into one of her deleterious mood swings that are driving her closer and closer to the edge. Very quickly, the Shrink’s emotions reset and it returns to its pre-programmed attitude regarding Sam: Absolutely hates her. [3]


References

[1] The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants, p.49
[2] Dear Alf#9 (https://magogonthemarch.com/2000-2004...)
[3] Oddworld Universe: The Shrink (https://web.archive.org/web/200101190...)
[4] The Lost Archives 0003: Mudokon Queen Concept (https://magogonthemarch.com/lost-arch...)
[5] Glukkon Queen Eggs (https://www.instagram.com/p/BlnhBZNFH...)
[6] EGX 2017: Lorne Lanning Interview (https://magogonthemarch.com/transcrip...)
[7] Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee 20th Anniversary Dynamic Theme by Truant Pixel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeSyz...)