It is onerous to know the place to start with Oddworld: Soulstorm. The collection has positively had its ups and downs, nevertheless it’s at all times felt like a part of PlayStation’s flavour, so it is good to have it again after so a few years. It is a reimagining of Abe’s Exoddus, a sequel to New ‘n’ Tasty, and in some methods it is one of many higher entries within the storied franchise. Nevertheless, as a contemporary online game, Soulstorm is troublesome to advocate.
The story is a continuation of Abe’s escape from Rupture Farms; he is seen as a saviour and a hero by his fellow Mudokons, and should push on to rescue the rest of his enslaved brethren. Immediately, the opening cutscene exhibits the bigger ambition of the challenge; the pre-rendered scenes look nice, with properly animated characters and a few wonderful surroundings. Sadly, the sport would not keep the spectacular visuals if you’re taking part in, however total it appears to be like respectable sufficient.
Constructing on that grander presentation, this seems like a broader sport generally. That is most positively an Oddworld sport, however the scope is a little bit greater and wider. You are still making your approach by way of intricate levels, coping with Sligs, dodging hazards, and rescuing Mudokons, however ranges really feel bigger, with the digital camera pulling out to point out the dimensions. There are secrets and techniques all over the place, with diverging and hidden paths you may want to search out if you wish to save everybody. Moreover, Soulstorm introduces just a few new options to the puzzle platformer in an try and modernise issues.
One main sticking level with the collection has been Abe’s restricted motion, which might make easy jumps doubtlessly perilous. You needed to be exact in your positioning and timing. Right here, a double bounce makes issues a little bit extra forgiving, permitting you to achieve excessive platforms and recuperate from failed makes an attempt. Nevertheless, as a lot because it makes Abe really feel extra nimble, jumps are nonetheless troublesome to evaluate, and easily climbing up ledges or swinging between monkey bars might be frustratingly tough. Particularly by trendy requirements, simply controlling the character feels fairly inflexible.
We’re additionally a little bit underwhelmed by the addition of looting and crafting. Whereas they do present an additional layer to the movement of a stage, rooting round in each bin and locker will get tiresome fairly shortly, and crafting feels superfluous. You will must do it as a way to get hold of sure devices and objects, nevertheless it would not really feel prefer it must be within the sport in any respect.
To be sincere, the issues that work finest about this sport are the issues which have at all times labored: possessing enemies, fixing environmental puzzles, and saving Mudokons. The primary few ranges might be an train in frustration, particularly a piece during which you should sneak previous the baddies whereas snipers purpose their lasers at you and mortar fireplace rains from the heavens. Fortuitously, issues decide up a little bit in a while when the motion slows and it is extra about guiding your allies to the exit. When all is working effectively, discovering all of the Mudokons and efficiently main the conga line by way of harmful territory feels satisfying. Possessing Sligs and steering them to drag levers and gun down different baddies stays a enjoyable answer.
The difficulty is that it would not at all times work effectively. We bumped into points with the AI on quite a few events that turned some components of the sport into an actual chore. Typically, Sligs would cease patrolling on their route, stopping in place, which might sometimes imply we could not progress with out dying or restarting the checkpoint. Different instances, Mudokons following Abe would refuse to behave; hiding in a locker ought to see your followers doing the identical, however now and again, one or two of them would determine to not hassle.
Elsewhere, you may typically must throw bottles of the titular Soulstorm brew to set off fires, and water to place the fires out. That is very finicky, particularly when the digital camera frames issues at an ungainly angle, making it onerous to evaluate your throw. Oddly sufficient, whether or not the water bottles would truly put out the fireplace felt extraordinarily hit or miss. Frankly, the gameplay seems like a little bit of a large number.
Criticising an Oddworld sport for its cussed controls may come throughout as a contact harsh, because the collection has at all times been like this. It is at all times been a difficult journey that requires precision and an acceptance you may die rather a lot, and followers love that concerning the franchise. It is a bleak story in an oppressive setting starring a weakling hero, and these titles do not maintain your hand. It is sensible. Nevertheless, none of meaning a brand new sport within the collection has to observe design limitations from the late 90s. In a approach, we admire that Soulstorm is so true to the franchise’s established quirks, however for us, it would not make for a really nice expertise — particularly when mixed with bugs and pointless options.
Having stated all that, there may be an simple appeal to Abe and the Oddworld which will see you thru any tough patches. The character is lovably dim, and the land he inhabits is effectively realised, feeling greater than anyone title. At its finest, the sport provides up some nice eventualities, akin to hijacking an unlimited prepare, and presents a captivating world full of bizarre, attention-grabbing characters. That is what holds this collectively, and it is what’s going to hold followers going by way of the prolonged marketing campaign.
Oddworld: Soulstorm presents itself effectively and exhibits a grand imaginative and prescient for the collection, however as a contemporary sport in 2021, it is simply not the place it must be. It may be extraordinarily awkward to drag off even primary manoeuvres, some new options miss the mark, and sure ranges made us wish to stop altogether. Bugs exacerbate among the gameplay frustrations with wonky AI, and in the end the play expertise might be frustratingly inflexible. Followers will love this reimagining of a traditional, and the franchise’s distinctive appeal shines by way of, nevertheless it’s a troublesome promote for anybody coming to the collection recent.