Back in 1997 a new character was born. His name was Abe and he would soon become a cult icon for many. His game Abe’s Oddyssey became somewhat of a cult hit too. A puzzle platformer that had a story smothered in satire. In fact, a lot of the story still holds true in today’s world 17 years later.
We aren’t going to cover the story in the review for two reasons. Firstly anyone playing New ‘n’ Tasty because they loved the original will be well aware of it and those coming to the game for the very first time, well we don’t want to ruin it for you. Just be assured it is very good and has some fantastic writing, doing satire very well.
The original 1997 release was a fine looking game for its time and it hasn’t aged badly as such, but playing it again now, you see some of the technical limitations in place. Whilst the game was fantastic, it was flat and a little lifeless, so when you load New ‘n’ Tasty for the first time, you are absolutely blown away, as all of a sudden Rupture Farms is alive, it is a living, breathing world. It still maintains the feeling of being in a world where there is little hope, where settings can either be bright and wonderful, or dark and depressing, but it still just look beautiful.
This goes beyond just trying to emulate your memories of a game, instead it takes your memories, reprograms them and then makes them better. This is so much more than a remake though, things like the characters, the settings, the level design all remain in tact, but where it has been needed, it has been improved.
Levels now scroll freely, rather than loading a new page every time you go off screen, which allows the game to flow better and allows you to approach puzzles a lot more logically. There are minor tweaks along the way, that were clearly needed for the way the game has been rebuilt from the ground up, but these have been added in without changing everything that was great about the original.
Puzzles in New ‘n’ Tasty are far from easy though, some you approach are simple enough to work out and can be a case of mastering the timing, such as opening a trap door to destroy an enemy, or allowing a fellow Mudokon to sneak past unseen. It is a lot easier now to see some of the visual clues thanks to the HD graphics and that only helps improve things. Other puzzles require a lot more logical thinking and require you to really plan ahead. It is a game that wants to work you hard, but still wants you to enjoy everything it has on offer.
What it also does though, is tests your own sense of morality, probably more than other games that try to shoehorn in a moral choice mechanic. You are constantly reminded how many Mudokons there are, how way have escaped and how many have perished and whilst the game doesn’t force you to do anything, you may well find yourself struggling with choice you make as you see a death toll increase. It, without trying, makes you really think about your approach to a particular section. It may sound like a load of twaddle, but seriously it gets right under your skin sometimes, again thanks to some excellent writing.
The one thing that doesn’t feel right in New ‘n’ Tasty is the inclusion of leaderboards. They are a thing now and they do seem to be part of everything, but Abe’s Oddessey was always about how you approached the game and what you did with it. You didn’t really need a leaderboard to tell you that someone completed in a quicker time, or saved more Mudokons. This isn’t the game for that sort of thing, however they are there and in all honesty can be largely ignored.
Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty is so much more than a remake. As unlike other games that get the remake treatment, this feels like a game that could have been released for the first time in 2014 and would have wowed gamers, it doesn’t just rely on returning fans looking to refresh some old memories. The development team took a bit of a risk with the amount of work that went in to New ‘n’ Tasty, as they could have easily just given the original a lick of HD paint and fans would have swallowed it up. However there is clearly a love for the game and they have produced the best possible version of the game.
If you have played Abe’s Oddyssey and loved it, then you’ll love what has been achieved here, it is a game you loved and then so much more. If you are going to be experiencing the game for the very first time, then boy, are you in for a treat.