Taking such a huge legacy in hand after so many years is never easy. This is especially when we are talking about a franchise with such a troubled history as that of Oddworld. Abe’s adventures have repeated since 1997, when the platformer released on the first PlayStation. Abe’s Odyssey was then followed by a sequel called Abe’s Exoddus, to continue the adventures of the Mudokon and his friends. After several remakes and many changes, Soulstorm finally lands on PS5. Take note that this is a direct remake of the second chapter of the saga. It was also distributed for free on the PlayStation Plus. Will the developers at Oddworld Inhabitants bring Abe’s adventures to a new level? Here is my Oddworld: Soulstorm review on PlayStation 5!
HISTORY OF ABE
Those who are unfamiliar with Abe, do not worry! Here is a small recap before starting with the actual Oddworld: Soulstorm review. It was back in 1997 when Abe’s Odyssee appeared on the first PlayStation and on PC. This was an immediate hit in the video game world and established itself as an excellent game of the genre. People loved it! Our Abe then returned in 2014 with Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, a remake of the chapter from 1997.
New ‘n’ Tasty also released on Nintendo Switch by Just Add Water with excellent results. The 2014 remake marked the return of the Mudokon officially. The porting to the Switch did nothing but increase the hype for the saga among both historical fans and newbies. In 2016, Oddworld Inhabitants revealed that they are working on a sequel to Odyssee called Oddworld: Soulstorm, consequently a direct sequel to New ‘n’ Tasty.
In this new adventure, we find ourselves taking on the role of Abe following the escape from the RaptureFarms factory. Raised to lead the Mudokon, our hero faces the threat of the Glukkon again, unable to accept their defeat. The fearsome Molluck, in fact, intent on revenge, finds the refuge of the Mudokon and attacks the poor aliens.
Finding himself on the run and homeless again, Abe will have to sabotage the distribution of an energy drink. This energy drink is produced by the evil Glukkon, which subjugates the minds of those who drink it. The narrative component is certainly the strong point of Oddworld: Soulstorm (as well as its predecessors). Although the title arrives after years and years of waiting, fans of the series have not forgotten Abe’s adventures.
Strengthened by such an important legacy, Oddworld Inhabitants has managed to give a new purpose to our hero, who finds himself back at the starting point and with people to save. Too bad only for the discontinuity of the narrative, which alternates deep and detailed sections with decidedly too hasty parts.
One of the strengths of Oddworld: Soulstorm is certainly the freedom of maneuver that the developers from Oddworld Inhabitants wanted to grant Abe in this new chapter of the series. In the past, they reduced the gameplay of the Mudokon to the basic movement commands and the interaction with his companions to be saved. However, here you will find many additional features.
By looting chests and lockers, it will be possible to find or craft items and resources to progress through the game. Between bombs, flamethrowers, and flammable liquid, they enriched Soulstorm’s gameplay with many dynamics. This gives a slight update to a title that remains, however, intentionally conservative.
The control mode (both of the companions and of the enemies) has also been revised and improved, to give more possibilities to the player. When I define Soulstorm as “intentionally conservative”, I am referring to a particular mechanic/characteristic of the series: trial and error. One of the biggest flaws of this game lies in the constant trying and retrying at the same section. Take note that this happens for dozens of times until things go as they should.
Thanks to a not really exceptional AI and commands a little too woody, in some sections the game proves to be decidedly frustrating. The only solution to proceed is to go by trial and error. I understand the desire to remain faithful to the tradition of the name, but if most of the remakes have abandoned this formula, there will be a reason for that!
One of the major things of Oddworld: Soulstorm and probably the most successful, lies in the graphic and artistic sector. First of all, the choice to move the view from 2D to 2.9D (or whatever you want to call it) is absolutely winning. This definitely gives a decidedly more interesting perspective to the game world. In some sections, between the main path and secret rooms, the glance is truly remarkable.
The cutscenes are truly gems when it comes to the graphics, staging, and details. On top of that, the game looks superb on PlayStation 5. With a resolution of 1440p and a frame rate anchored at 60 fps, the title in addition to being a feast for the eyes is also very stable. To frame everything, you will find an excellent soundtrack, great sound design, as well as dozens of references scattered here and there.
Here too, however, not all that glitters is gold. The camera, due to the hybrid depth of the game world, often plays tricks. To favor the glance of the wonderful world created by the developers of Oddworld Inhabitants, they sacrificed the gameplay. This is due to the detriment of the players who often find themselves running into decidedly avoidable blunders. Besides this, the problems related to a production that is not really high budget often arise. In particular, the game suffers from several bugs that are quite frustrating.
The problems in Oddworld: Soulstorm are there and cannot be ignored. While the game world is wonderful, the camera often plays tricks. Similarly, although many new gameplay features have been implemented, the bugs and poor AI of the enemies easily lead the player to frustration. I understand the desire to remain faithful to a name and the type of game that was Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey, but we are no longer in the 90s.
The market changes, the software houses adapt, and some choices are abandoned for the benefit of others that are more current and functional. However, this chapter introduces many new gameplay and the technical sector benefits a lot from the possibilities offered by the PlayStation 5.
Do you want to try Oddworld Inhabitants’ Oddworld: Soulstorm? What do you think of my Oddworld: Soulstorm review on PlayStation 5? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more games? Check out our reviews for Demon Skin, Lost Words: Beyond the Page, Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition, and Harvest Moon One World.