Games That Defined Me – Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee/Exoddus
Compared to the other whores of MWN, I had a very different childhood. Firstly, I was in Europe and so I was used to bullshit release dates (and still am) and 50hz etc. Secondly and most importantly, I lived through childhood at least 1 generation after most of the writers, which means I had different kinds of memories when it comes to the PS1 generation. However the memories I’ll always remember most on that brilliant console are those of the first two Oddworld games.
Of course things started with Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (or Abe aGoGo in Japan) in 1997. My first memory is that of the very first PS1 demo disc. If I remember right, it was the one that came with the Playstation and it also had demos for Descent, Hercules, Rage Racer and some ski racing game as well as a tech demo with a T-Rex. Anyway, I don’t remember much about the demo but my Dad and Brother must have been impressed because later on in 1998 (we got the Ps1 in December 97′), they picked up the full version of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee and boy am I glad they did.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was about a simple working mudokon named Abe who, one night discovers while cleaning, that his employer (Mullock the glukkon) is running low on paramite and scarab meat so he is going to start making meat products out of Abe and the rest of his species. So begins a grand adventure that starts with Abe escaping from Rupture Farms (the place he works out) before eventually returning to put an end to Mullock’s plans. At the time, I’d never seen anything like it and it captivated my imagination.
Now the game might have been 2D and linear, but that didn’t make it boring. It was actually more of puzzle game than a platformer because while it had platforming elements, most of the time you had to work out how to progress as Abe was very vulnerable, being killable in one hit. This made the game challenging, but oh so rewarding when you made it through a hard section. Abe could fight back somewhat though. As long as you weren’t at the same height as an enemy, you could meditate and control the drones of Mullock, the sligs. Sometimes you would need to do this to progress through an area and other times it was just fun to take over a slig and listen to his speech commands or just go around and start killing every other slig you could.
The other gameplay element was responsibility, as you had to save your fellow mudokons by getting them through bird portals. It wasn’t actually necessary though which is where the responsibility comes in. You see the game had both a good and bad ending and the one you got depended on how many mudokons you saved throughout the game. In the original it was 50, so if you wanted the good ending you had no choice but to help the mudokons escape, but often this was a challenge to as most of the time you would have enemies who could kill the mudokons as well as electricity traps, mines and who knows what. There were also secret areas with extra mudokons so it encouraged exploration as well as responsibility.
I think what I enjoyed about the game most was it’s imagination. It was a huge world, full of imagination and fantasy. All of the different species were unique and the game’s landscapes were a pleasure on the eyes. In 1997, it looked beautiful and while the game’s graphics have aged, it’s beauty still shows through. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was a fun and imaginative game and I loved it.
It seems I wasn’t the only who loved it as the game proved popular and a sequel was quickly demanded by GT Interactive and it came in the form of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, completed in only 9 months due to the pressure of a 1998 release. Now that seems like a bad thing, as your first thought is that the game has been rushed and is probably shit because of how quickly it was released and usually you’d be right. However, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus was just as good as the first game if not arguably better.
After destroying Rupture Farms and becoming the saviour of the mudokon species, Abe and a few of his friends go investigate a mining facility that is supposedly digging up the bones of dead mudokons. Little do Abe and friends know what they’re in for. By the time Abe is travelling to the last location (Soulstorm Brewery), he has travelled through Necrum Mines, a tribal jungle, two tribal caves, a train station, another meat facility and finally the training grounds for sligs.
Despite being released only 9 months after the first game, there were a ton of new features added. Firstly Abe’s possession ability was expanded and he could now possess glukkons, scarabs and paramites as well as the usual sligs. Hell later on he could even possessive explosive farts. If that’s not a reason to play this game then I don’t know what is. With that expanded ability came new puzzles such as using the Glukkons speech to get past certain areas and using scarabs and paramites to kill the deadly fleeches, who could eat Abe up in a mere few seconds if he wasn’t careful.
As well as new enemies and abilities, there were also different kinds of mudokons, all of which could affect your progress. The new type was the blind mudokon, who was the same as a normal mudokon but, you guessed it, couldn’t see where they were going. This meant that you’d have the constantly command to stop and go, otherwise they would end up walking into something deadly, whether it was a meat grinder or a seemingly endless pit. Mudokons now had emotions, which could hinder you when you were trying to rescue them. There were angry mudokons, who would fight back or not follow you unless you apologized. There were also depressed mudokons, who you also had to apologize to and if they saw a mudokon die, then they would start hitting themselves to death. Finally, there were the laughing mudokons brought on by exposure to laughing gas. These would not stop running about or hitting each other so you had to give each one a slap in the face to stop them laughing.
Apart from new enemies, abilities and the development of the mudokons, a lot didn’t change. Not that it was a bad thing as the game was just as fun as the first game and is my personal favourite thanks to the quiksave feature which meant you could quickly make a checkpoint for yourself, which made life a lot easier for yourself.
Unfortunately, after the first two games things didn’t go well and Oddworld Inhabitants eventually shut down as a game studio in 2005. Still these first two games are a testament to their game making abilities and you should definitely pick both up, whether it’s by buying them on the Playstation or by picking up the PC versions via Steam or Good Old Games. If you’re still undecided, Oddworld Inhabitants have demos available for both games here.