"Follow You Follow Me"

Does anyone remember Abe?

It seems that developers Oddworld Inhabitants have misplaced him, and his absence has indirectly affected the company in some way. Oddworld: Stranger hit shelves in the Spring of 2005, and despite being critically acclaimed from every game magazine under the sun, really was slightly lacking. It produced a lot of rich ideas and seemed to be a very promising game but it was flawed by missions which involved a lot of running around doing nothing and boss fights which took you all day to do.

For all of its flaws, I believe this is due to a severe lack of Abe. I mean, how could you leave out a character can possess his own farts and explode them to kill enemies?!

Abe's Oddysee was the first title in OI's ambitious Oddworld Quintology and, instead of relying on explosive shoot outs, it took a more laid back approach, taking a template reminiscent of the classic Out of this World, which appeared on every console available back in its day, and incorporating a great deal of stealth and strategy into an already impressive mix.

Abe is a mudokon, a skinny blue-skinned creature (although all of the others in his species are green!! What's up with that?) Who works a regular 9-5 job in his local meat-processing plant, Rupture Farms. While humbly cleaning the floor outside the executive office, he overhears an important meeting, held by a handful of capitalist squid-headed monsters called Glukkons, which are currently enslaving Abe's species for cheap labour and plundering the local wildlife for tasty meat treats. It seems that the business is starting to decline due to the fact that they've simply used up all of the available resources. One species of creature has already kicked the can due to the fact that they taste so good, and two others are set to follow. So, the Glukkons have an ingenious idea: Let's eat the workforce! I mean, we abuse them enough that it won't be too much of a big thing, right?

So, Abe overhears that fact that his bosses are planning to turn him and his friends into Mudokon pops and freaks out. He makes it his destiny to rescue all 99 mudokons from the factory and destroy it before his entire race is consumed by the furnace of capitalism!

Abe is an agile fellow, he ran run at great speed, leap over large gaps and roll across the floor like its nobody's business. But, in order to save his species he'll have to convince them that they need saving. This can be done through OI's revolutionary communication tool, GameSpeak™. When Abe comes across a fellow mudokon, he can converse with them and order them to follow him. While this would be greatly expanded in future games, only Abe can talk to others in this instalment. With a rather croaky voice, Abe can order fellow Mudokons to follow him or get them to wait. This is rather invaluable because you can get your friends to stop wherever they are and hide them in areas so they are not killed by security forces. To save a mudokon, you have to guide them to a bird portal (which is conveniently located around the area) and use Abe's weird ability to chant, this will open the portal and free your friends.

However, chanting isn't only used for this. It can be an invaluable tool and weapon for getting past the local security goons known as Sligs. These creatures are slug like monsters with mechanical legs and a machine gun loaded to the teeth! Sligs patrol the corridors of Rupture Farms, with a low intellect and an itchy trigger finger. However, while you are clearly unarmed, you can use your chanting power to possess these dumb monsters (a feature which was also greatly expanded in future games.) When you possess a Slig, you can force him to kill other Sligs, walk into mines or access areas that Abe wouldn't be able to. Thankfully, if you dispossess a Slig, he'll blow to bits and no longer be a worry to you.

Abe's Oddysee is rich in puzzles and rather tricky situations. While it sounds easy to simply possess a Slig, sometimes an area will have a machine which will stop you from being able to do this. Not only will it do this, but it will zap electricity at you, alerting your whereabouts to any nearby Sligs. So, you'll be stuck in a room with a chant suppressor in the corner which is loaded with Sligs. You'll have to sneak past them by hiding in shadows or simply running for it. Others will be loaded with mines, which you will have to either navigate through or find ways to destroy, some with have mudokons and sligs together, so you'll have to act incredibly carefully so the mudokon is not killed. If you act carelessly and kill mudokons, you'll meet your comeuppance when you need their help at a more crucial time.

After, escaping from Rupture Farms, Abe hooks up with a Mudokon shaman, who orders him to venture across forest and desert to learn about the vast wilderness that the Glukkons are destroying; and meet face-to-face with the wildlife which is being consumed. Doing this, he will be awarded with the power of the Shrykull, a destructive god-like creature which allows Abe to transform into a hideous beast which emits vast streaks of lighting from its chest and clears away anything nasty in its path. But let's not go crazy just yet; Abe has to access an ancient temple in the forest and the desert before being able to do this.

Paramites and Scrabs are rather delicious when cut up and cooked in a pie or a cake, but when you've got a live one right in front of you, they're not as enjoyable. These creatures inhabit the temples of each land. As you enter the desert wasteland of Scrabania, you have to venture through a dry land of Slig dropouts, rusty industrial waste and Scrabs, giant crab like creatures that run with the grace and speed of an antelope and the aggression of a bull with lots of testosterone. However, you can then trek through the luscious forests of Paramonia, where beautiful trees lurk over you and unfriendly Paramites scuttle along webs, eager to make you lunch. (As in eat YOU, not prepare you a rather ironic meal.) For some reason, Abe can't possess these creatures, so if one's chasing you, your only option is to run like fudge!

This game, and it's follow up Abe's Exoddus, which essentially took the formula of this game, allowed you to possess more creatures and advanced GameSpeak™ drastically. Not only did it do that but it made the game twice as long, with the Mudokon rescue count being almost trebled in number. However, this title proves to be a challenge that you can't pass up. It's also makes you remember when Oddworld Inhabitants were proving to be a force in gaming.

So much for them though…

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/08/07

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