Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants, Fat Kraken Studio, Sabotage Studio, Just Add Water, Frima Studio
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PC
Oddworld: Soulstorm isn’t a horrible sport, however it’s a considerably pointless one. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Soulstorm is neither true sufficient to the spirit of the unique to fulfill followers of it, nor totally different sufficient in play to justify the adjustments it makes. It rests at a clumsy midpoint between nostalgic traditional and accessible modernisation, and whereas there are moments when it shines, in the end Soulstorm comes throughout as a confused and haphazard design.
Soulstorm loosely follows the plot of Exoddus, nonetheless revolving across the eponymous inexperienced tender drink that made Abe’s farts extra-dangerous in 1999. But the drink has been refitted into an nearly fully new model of the Exoddus story. In this model, Abe and his newly liberated tribe is attacked by a vengeful Molluck, the disgraced former proprietor of Rupture Farms. While escaping the bombardment from Molluck’s weaponised blimp, Abe discovers that one thing is making his fellow Mudokons sick, main him into one other quest to avoid wasting his beleaguered folks.
It’s an honest rewrite, however I don’t suppose it’s any higher than the unique. Primarily, it permits Oddworld Inhabitants and its many third-party builders to imbue the sport with better spectacle, which is the one unqualified enchancment that Soulstorm makes over Exoddus. The sport’s puzzles are contained inside elaborate environments and several other dramatic set-pieces which can be not possible to not admire. Soulstorm opens with Molluck’s assault on the Mudokon camp, with Abe sprinting via clouds of shrapnel and splintering wooden whereas a whole lot of Mudokons scatter to the winds. At the midpoint of the sport, Abe hijacks a large, suspended prepare, which barrels alongside at X-hundred miles-per-hour whereas different trains scream previous in the wrong way.
Levels, too, are bigger and extra intricate. Gone are the static single screens of the primary two video games, changed with rollercoaster-like 3D areas full of twisting, looping pathways. The sport nonetheless performs on a 2D plain, however it makes wonderful use of a 3D digicam, with you typically in a position to see later elements of the extent far off within the distance. One of the very best examples of that is Phat Station. An enormous industrial advanced, you spy the prepare you’re destined to hijack proper on the outset. As you discover, you’ll within the background you’ll spy the tiny silhouettes of Mudokons you must rescue, scrubbing elevated gantries amid the station’s monumental gasoline tanks and serpentine pipework.
Beneath all this visible razzmatazz, Soulstorm retains the core mechanics of the early Abe video games. It’s nonetheless a puzzle platformer with the emphasis firmly on “puzzle”. It nonetheless entails rescuing Mudokons, possessing enemies earlier than killing them in gleefully grotesque methods, and avoiding a dungeon’s value of lethal traps and hazards. It’s nonetheless tooth-crackingly tough, with many puzzles demanding exact actions from a personality not famed for his agility (although Abe is extra acrobatic than earlier than, ready now to double bounce throughout chasms).
When Soulstorm is doing all three of this stuff collectively, it’s a fairly good time. But a part of the issue is Soulstorm takes ages to get up to now. Beyond a few set-pieces, you don’t really rescue a Mudokon till stage 4, and Soulstorm’s ranges are lengthy, so that is about three or 4 hours into the sport. Indeed, the opening ranges are usually weak, a dun parade of brown ruins and gray mountainsides with puzzles that principally contain sneaking your means round slig patrols.
The greater challenge, although, is that Soulstorm strips out a a lot what made Exoddus an attention-grabbing sport. Gone are Abe’s explosive farts, for instance. In reality, the sport is virtually fart-free. But the true tragedy is the lack of Exoddus’ nuanced Gamespeak. Not solely does Soulstorm characteristic a mere handful of fundamental instructions, it additionally fully lacks the various emotional states of the Mudokons. In Exoddus, fellow Mudokons may very well be indignant, or unhappy, or energised, all of which required Abe to answer them in numerous methods. It was a neat system that felt like a real evolution of Oddyssee’s concepts, and the lack of it’s undoubtedly to Soulstorm’s detriment.
Soulstorm does change these older options with new mechanics. Unfortunately, its main new characteristic is crafting that’s weaker than a Waitrose korma. Abe has round a dozen totally different objects he can use to assist him take care of enemies, from smoke grenades that permit him slip previous slig patrols, to extra eclectic and nefarious gadgets. The objects themselves compensate considerably for the Exoddus’ discarded options, however the precise crafting system actively makes the sport worse.
To begin with, it’s barely a crafting system in any respect. All you do is gather sources from the surroundings, then press a button to immediately create the merchandise you want. It entails no creativity or course of in any way. Moreover, different crafting video games are likely to scatter sources throughout a large space, infusing exploration and discovery into the act of crafting. But as a result of Soulstorm is fully linear, sources are practically all the time gathered on the level the place you want the merchandise they create. Combined, these two points render the entire idea of crafting redundant, and Soulstorm might as nicely skip all this and furnish you with the completed merchandise straight away.
The different drawback with the crafting is that it serves to compound the frustration of failing a puzzle. Soulstorm saves your progress through checkpoints, and the way in which checkpoints are distributed means you’ll typically have to carry out merchandise gathering after the checkpoint, however earlier than the puzzle. Hence, if you happen to die, you then have to spend a few minutes re-collecting the sources and re-crafting the objects. Having to do that earlier than practically each puzzle obliterates the sport’s pacing. Imagine an FPS that compelled you to scrub all of your weapons each time you died. That’s the impact crafting has on Soulstorm.
It all falls a bit flat, to be sincere. The authentic Abe’s Exoddus was made in simply 9 months, attributable to GT’s Interactive starvation for a sequel to Oddyssee. That feeling of speeding out Exoddus is cited as the principle motive Lorne Lanning wished to not simply remake it, however reimagine it fully. Sadly, Soulstorm primarily serves to reveal how stress to carry out can profit a venture, because the six years Soulstorm has taken to develop has not resulted in a greater sport. It isn’t a catastrophe, however for all the hassle that has clearly gone into it, Oddworld Inhabitants & co might need been higher off sticking with an easy remake.