PlayStation Official Magazine – UK: ODDWORLD: NEW ‘N’ TASTY [2014]

Date: July 2014

Source: PlayStation Official Magazine – UK, Issue 98, pp. 38-39

ODDWORLD: NEW ‘N’ TASTY

“IT BREATHES FRESH LIFE AND ENERGY INTO ABE’S TWISTED WORLD.”

FORMAT PS4/PS3/PS VITA / ETA SUMMER / PUB ODDWORLD INHABITANTS / DEV JUST ADD WATER

A PlayStation classic gets a remake to go Abe for

“What’s that saying?” asks Lorne Lanning. “You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, and no one on the internet.” He lets out a hearty laugh, as he discusses the reaction of a fervent fanbase to the remake of arguably his most famous game, Abe’s Oddysee.

Jokes aside, it’s clear Lanning genuinely appreciates the feedback from the Oddworld community, as he and Yorkshire-based developer Just Add Water put the finishing touches to the game ahead of its summer release. “The value greatly outweighs the management overhead,” he adds, as he affectionately refers to a community that claims to, “know the game better than [we] do.” JAW and Lanning have taken time to engage with fans, polling them on additions and changes, and releasing regular screens from the game during development.

WELCOME TO RUPTURE

It seems that the vast majority are happy with what they’re seeing, and our hands-on time with the game makes it easy to see why. It’s a remake that closely follows the narrative structure and design of the original — Abe is a worker at RuptureFarms, a factory that is turning its employees into processed food, and he decides to rescue his fellow Mudokons from their fate. And yet it feels thrillingly new, thanks partly to a series of small tweaks, but mainly a visual treatment that breathes fresh life and energy into Abe’s twisted world. Patrolling Sligs and scuttling Paramites bristle with renewed menace, environments throb with colour and dynamic detail, and a new physics engine adds a welcome element of slapstick comedy.

Though its environments are hugely varied, Lanning has been keen to maintain a certain aesthetic consistency. “[It’s] a very stylised, almost graphic novel sort of quality, all super-rich and oversaturated,” he explains. “But there are rules of atmosphere. At the asset level, you have to define the world’s base and then everything has to adhere to those rules. I mean, anyone can tweak values and make shit glow. After we got the lighting [right], the visual curve started going way, way up.”

It’s beautiful, then, and it plays even better than ever. It takes a little time to acclimatise to Abe’s movement and inertia — JAW has endeavoured to preserve the original’s feel, which may initially seem alien to those who haven’t played it, but the controls are reliable and responsive. And they need to be, too: the myriad enemies, tricks and traps offer a fearsome challenge, and the process of reaching the next checkpoint is often tense and fraught.

NEVER MIND THE MOLLUCKS

There are a few concessions to modern audiences, with an Easy mode that allows Abe to take more damage, and the ability to trigger quick-saves (on PS4, it’s a case of clicking in the touchpad to save). Purists needn’t be concerned, however: Hard mode preserves the original’s difficulty, one-hit kills and all. Meanwhile, there are leaderboards for all settings, highlighting the number of Mudokons saved and your completion time for each chapter and the entire game. Not that you’ll be speedrunning it: JAW estimates New ‘N’ Tasty will take most players around 25 hours to finish.

New sections see Abe’s trusty steed Elum gallop along at a speed he never reached in the original, while an expanded Gamespeak system improves communication between Abe and his fellow Mudokons. When Lanning calls it, “a triple-A indie,” it’s no hollow marketing tag: New ‘N’ Tasty feels like a labour of love, and every iota of affection is up there on screen. “If we stay true to what people loved about us — the humour, character, attention to detail, artistry, craftsmanship — we think there’s an audience,” says Lanning. “On a screen next to Titanfall [at E3] I don’t know how many eyeballs we’ll get, but there will be an audience that cares.” Here’s hoping.


FACTRICK

1. ENCHANTED ARMS

Special magical chants let you possess Sligs, gun down foes or trigger traps.

2. SCORE DRAW

A mere £20 will get you all three versions (PS4, PS3, PS Vita) with cross-save support.

3. ANOTHER TASTE?

“If we sell 1.5 million units, we’re building brand new IP!” says developer Lorne Lanning.