Almost twenty years after the release of the original Oddworld title Abe’s Oddysee (which debuted on the PlayStation in September 1997), the ground-up remake Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty lands on the PlayStation Vita – instantly challenging for the honour of becoming the handheld’s best platformer.
You play as Abe, a Mudokon slave who spends his days working as a floor-waxer at Rupture Farms – ‘the biggest meat-processing plant in Oddworld’. One night whilst he is cleaning, Abe happens to overhear Rupture Farms’ owner Mullock the Glukkon discussing his latest meat-based product – Mudokon Pops! Startled by this revelation, Abe sets off to escape the factory whilst rescuing the rest of the Mudokon slaves before they become tasty snacks.
You take control of Abe at the start of his escape, and the opening chapter in Rupture Farms helps you to get to grips with the core gameplay mechanics. Keeping with the original, New ‘n’ Tasty is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer that tests you with its precision-requiring jumps and obstacles that require impeccable timing.
As you make your way through the first chapter you will notice that the game’s environment is used to display additional information exceptionally. There is no HUD in New ‘n’ Tasty – everything you need to know is provided to you by environmental objects. You will notice the side-scrolling displays that provide information on the game’s controls that form a tutorial of sorts, and the gigantic billboards in the game that – quite hauntingly – remind you of how many of the 299 trapped Mudokons you have rescued (or left to die).
The environments in the game are stunning, and you can definitely tell that a lot of time and care was put into making the Vita version of New ‘n’ Tasty. There had to be some compromises made to port the game from the PlayStation 4 to the Vita, but even with these alterations the game is gorgeous. There were a few times when there were a lot of enemies on the screen that I noticed a drop in frame-rate, and a few times when objects in the game did not work as expected, but this did not ruin the overall experience for me.
Speaking of the enemies, one thing that makes Abe unique to other platforming heroes is that he cannot directly harm the various creatures that can do him harm. The one thing that he can do is chant. By holding down the left and right triggers on the PlayStation Vita you will perform a chant, allowing you to possess one of the enemy types that you will encounter during play. By taking control of the Sligs that patrol Rupture Farms and the surrounding areas you can use their machine guns to clear your path and can also unlock security gates within the Rupture Farm’s compound. Other enemies in the game cannot be possessed, and to outwit these you will need to solve puzzles and use environmental objects to make sure that you come out on top. Each enemy is unique and distinctly different, and they all have their own characteristics that can make for some hilarious, unscripted happenings throughout the game.
I had great fun solving the game’s puzzles and using the various objects in the environments to overcome obstacles that the game threw my way. Using the Vita’s d-pad you can make Abe (or possessed Sligs) interact with other creatures. Interacting comes down to using a command system known as GameSpeak, having you mimic passwords that you hear in certain parts of the game in order to advance. GameSpeak blends in with the other sounds that you hear throughout the game to make for great audio. Who doesn’t love the sound of farts, mystical chants, and whistles against an industrious backdrop?
The Mudokons that you need to rescue are located throughout the game’s fifteen chapters, and they will require you to thoroughly search the environments in order to find them. When I first escaped Rupture Farms and entered the Stockyards area of the game I thought I had rescued all the Mudokons in the opening chapter; I was soon proven wrong when the first billboard I came across told me that over forty of my chums had perished. How many Mudokons you rescue will affect the game’s ending, encouraging you to play through New ‘n’ Tasty multiple times just to see how the story plays out.
Don’t worry if that sounds like too much of a chore, New ‘n’ Tasty is short but sweet. My first playthrough took me between six and seven hours from start to finish. Although that does seem like a short time, I had played the opening chapters previously on the PlayStation 4, so it may take newcomers to the game a little longer. As I mentioned earlier I also, inadvertently, missed out on saving quite a few Mudokens – so you can probably add an hour or two onto the length of the game if you are taking your time to find and save all 299. There is even a trophy on offer for completing the game in under three hours whilst rescuing all of the Mudokens – that is definitely one for people who enjoy a challenge, with the game also featuring online leaderboards that allow you to compare details such as time taken to complete and how many Mudokens you have saved with others that have played the game.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is, in my opinion, the best Oddworld title on the PlayStation Vita – which can only be a good thing when the Oddworld games available include the excellent Stranger’s Wrath. I think that this is partly due to the time and attention the developers have put into optimising New ‘n’ Tasty for the Vita. One example of this is the controls, which have been tweaked for the handheld and work perfectly – allowing for precision which is crucial for both platforming and sneaking throughout the game. The gameplay is also exceptional, with New ‘n’ Tasty managing to encapsulate the feel of the original – Abe’s Oddysee – whilst managing to feel fresh at the same time.
Now that I have finished the game, I have an urge to go back to it – which is unusual as I normally put games back on the shelf or remove them from my memory card when I complete them. With New ‘n’ Tasty however, I want to go back; I want to try and beat the game quicker, see the other ending, and try and save all 299 Mudokons. That in itself is a testament to the work that Nephilim and Oddworld Inhabitants have put into perfecting the PS Vita version of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, and why the game is one that I highly recommend you purchase – you won’t regret it!