Gameplay, Story and Value:
Oddworld sees you taking control of Abe, an odd little creature in an odd world embarking in an odd quest in an attempt to prevent you and your kind from turning into processed meat. It’s a super weird game, a little dark, a little whimsical, and I really want to go re-watch Invader Zim right now. You’ll run, jump, sneak, roll, grenade, and puzzle your way through several bleak stages of threats and traps to save your people.
The whole idea, and the setting, sounds like a real winner. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come together in what I’d consider to be a coherent package, or at least not an enjoyable one. It’s a little Boy and his Blog, a little Lemmings, a lot of Heart of Darkness, and while all the concepts are there, it just never feels fun to play. The pacing is slow, the action sequences are sluggish, controls aren’t the most responsive, and getting your friends to safety feels more tedious than anything.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
The game still looks great, even today, and it owes a lot of that to its art direction. The rusty, cold, factory setting still manages to have a charm and personality to it, and the animations from both friends and foes adds a lot to the experience. The tone is dark and gritty, yet still whimsical and bizarre. I made an Invader Zim reference earlier and I stand by it. Oddworld does a great job at establishing its world.
Music is mostly, if not entirely, ambient. I don’t know that having an actual soundtrack would have really added anything to the game, and by going completely atmospheric, Oddworld’s environment is just further enhanced. Sound effects are all really good, and I found myself laughing out loud more than a couple times thanks to the voiceovers.
I didn’t like Oddworld as a kid when we had a copy of it for our PC, and to be honest I don’t really care for it now. I can see how it became a classic to many people, but for me the whole thing just doesn’t click. The pace was too slow and I found myself just getting frustrated by the game’s mechanics and encounters.