A few years ago, back when the original PS One (PlayStation) was king of the retail market, a team known as Oddworld Inhabitants made their name known with an interesting side-scrolling platformer called Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.
The game is fashioned in a similar sense to Out of This World, with a string of static screens put together, so that your character moves through the world, rather than having the world move with him. And since Abe, a quirky little alien who can barely speak anything outside of gibberish, isn't exactly known for combat, he has to use special abilities, mainly through chants, in order to survive his escape from the weird futuristic world he's trapped in – or risk being shot up by gun-toting Sligs, or hunted down by worse enemies.
Abe's Oddysee set a fairly strong standard for Oddworld Inhabitants, with many more games to follow, including Xbox exclusive Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee and the sleeper hit Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. From there, the team opted out of game development to focus on more interactive efforts, but a developer called Just Add Water struck a deal with its founder, Lorne Lanning, to bring its games back for a new high-definition era.
That era kicked off late last year with the return of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD for the PlayStation 3 (and coming to the Vita later this year) and next year will bring Abe's Oddysee back for a whole new generation of gamers to enjoy. You think you've seen the best of what this little dude has to offer? You ain't seen nothing yet.
Titled Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty, the game isn't just an HD conversion of the original hit. In fact, Just Add Water is rebuilding the game, and every component in it, from the ground up for a high-definition generation, and fans will be thrilled by what it has to offer. The game was shown at Eurogamer Expo this weekend for the first time, and you can check out footage of it in action below.
The set-up for Abe's Oddysee is the same as the original – Abe has to work his way through a prison-like world, accepting small hints in the form of flashing messages, scrawls written on walls and fireflies that occasionally light up hints for him. But now he can do it through a continuously moving world, rather than screen to screen, carefully figuring out his way through traps without getting blasted to bits.
And no, Abe may not be a quintessential action hero, but he is able to manipulate enemies through temporary possession. Using a special chant, he can take control of specific Sligs, activating switches that he wouldn't be able to turn off/on by himself, or shooting enemies that could stand in the way. Once he's done with the possession, he can return to himself, causing his enemy to explode once he's vacated.
The only trick that comes with possession is that Abe becomes vulnerable, unable to defend himself if a Slig manages to stumble upon him. Your best bet before you take part in a possession is find a remote spot where enemies won't stumble upon you.
Along with possessing enemies and solving puzzles, Abe can also use GameSpeak to help out his fellow Mudokons, who are working in the facility as slaves. Using simple commands ("Follow me," "PFFFTT!"), he can get them to follow along or do certain things required to get through each area. And while some Mudokons are more willing than others, it adds an interesting challenge to the game as you try to save them all. The more you rescue, the better your game ending gets.
The gameplay is a throwback to classic 2D action/strategy games of old, and that's just how Just Add Water likes it, as they know there are hardcore fans for this series that will enjoy this title, just as they enjoyed Stranger's Wrath HD when it came out last year. But if anything is bound to be a huge draw, it's the graphics.
The development team is taking its sweet time to give Abe's Oddysee the glossing-over that it deserves, and even though the video footage we've included below doesn't show the entire game in action, it provides a strong indication that the project is in the right hands. We can't wait to see how the final product looks.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty is still a ways from release, as it isn't even due until fall 2013. However, PlayStation 3 owners will be happy they're getting another taste of Oddworld, and Xbox 360 players who were sore over not getting their own version of Wrath will be happy to know it's headed their way as well. Next year could very well be the year of the Abe…and we can't wait.