Oddworld: New n' Tasty is a ground-up reconstruction of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a legendary PS1 puzzle platformer.
Developed in conjunction with Oddworld Inc. and Just Add Water, New n' Tasty has hit 2.4 million sales to date, partially owing to its usage of Unity, a popular games engine for targeting multiple platforms.
It's difficult to review a game that holds so much nostalgia for me personally. I spent countless hours as a kid meticulously rescuing each and every Mudokon throughout the game's sprawling side-scrolling world. New n' Tasty hopes to both serve fans of the classic Oddysee, as well as bring in new fans for its truly Odd franchise.
A work of art, a labour of love
For those who are new to the game, you play as Abe. As a Mudokon, Abe is part of a race largely enslaved by the evil Glukkons, an advanced profit greedy species hell-bent on turning Oddworld into a gigantic industrialised hell. One day, and by accident, Abe discovers that in a bid to boost their earnings Rupture Farms has decided to start turning Abe's enslaved bros into New n' Tasty food products to compliment their current line up of Paramite Pies and Scrab Cakes. Abe escapes into the bowels of Rupture Farms, and begins on an epic journey to free his people from the Glukkon's tyranny, discover his people's lost spirituality, and liberate the critters Rupture Farms is harvesting to extinction.
I think it is fair to say that New n' Tasty is breathtakingly gorgeous. I didn't think a game would follow so soon after Moon Studios' Ori and the Blind Forest that would tick all the right boxes when it came to artistry.
New n' Tasty presents as a 3D side scroller with a fixed camera. Throughout Abe's journey, the camera often pans to views of incredible vistas, which are a testament to Just Add Water's impeccable craft. All backgrounds are fully 3D, from the dilapidated Rupture Farms to the evergreen mountains of Paramonia, and the vibrant badlands of Scrabania, each location oozes quality and individual personality. There's no copy and paste. Each scene features both elaborate and tiny details that immerse you in a world brimming with the backstory. Progressing through each imparts a sense of majesty for Abe's journey, that takes our off-green hero to some seriously odd places.
Just Add Water has recreated the pre-rendered 3D sprites of yesteryear with an incredibly faithful attention to detail, right down to the frame. New models benefit from 3D lighting techniques, as well as modern physics. Poor Abe will die, a lot, but at least now he can do it in style as he's shot, blown up and crushed, navigating Oddworld's hazardous environs.
Sound treatment enjoys the same level of detail, right from the nostalgia-inducing menu cues all the way up to dynamic background music events. The chaps at Oddworld Inc. enlisted the help of the community to ensure the Mudokon's enjoyed a wide array of both professional and quality amateur voice actors. Much of the old music is still present, albeit remastered, and comes with some welcome new additions to compliment fresh sequences and brand new CGI cutscenes.
Although there are occasional instances of slowdown, these instances are very few and far in between. With as much objectivity as this nostalgic fan can muster, I can't praise Oddworld Inc. and Just Add Water enough for their reconstruction of Abe's Oddysee, which is a feast for the senses. But hey, just how well have they preserved, or modernised, Oddysee's classic gameplay?
New n' Tasty gameplay
Oddworld Inc. have been incredibly faithful to the original regarding New n' Tasty's gameplay. Typically Abe has no weapons or combat skills. The player must use their wits to overcome the game's deranged menagerie of enemies, it's environmental hazards and often elaborate traps. Despite Abe's lack of physical prowess, he can exude incredible violence in certain conditions.
Glukkon's security forces, the cyborg Sligs, can be possessed by Abe, allowing him the ability to wield a Slig machine gun, and throw switches unabated by Rupture Farm's menagerie of security measures. Occasionally Abe may get access to other tools like grenades, mine triggering rocks, or even beast distracting chunks of meat. As a testament to the game's variety, there is an achievement for killing a Slig in 15 different ways.
The presence of the tools in each segment gives you hints at how you need to overcome the obstacles in your way. If there's a Slig, and no anti-possession security field, then chances are you'll need to possess him to proceed. Hanging bags of rocks will be readily available if there are rows of bombs you can't jump over, and so on. It does become a bit obvious in the core game, but Oddworld: New n' Tasty ramps up the difficulty for completionists.
Abe can communicate with his fellow Mudokons using the d-pad. You can hail them to snap them briefly out of subservience, and then ask them to follow you into an escape portal - often having to navigate/eliminate threats along the way. There are 300 Mudokons to save in total, but it is actually an optional metagame.
The amount of Mudokons you rescue determines whether you get the good or bad ending, but you can just be a jerk and ignore them all, but you wouldn't be that mean right?! Good. Because if you want to rescue each and every Mudokon for the associated achievement, you'll be tasked to endure more difficult hidden puzzles that introduce combinations of all the game's hazards into trials equal parts diabolical and deadly. Sometimes I wonder if the Saw movies took inspiration from some of the more deranged Oddysee sequences.
Speaking of difficulty, New n' Tasty has thrown a ton of new features to accommodate today's more delicate gamer. The game's "Easy" and "Normal" mode remove a lot of the instadeath that typified the classic game. Sligs will no longer one shot Abe with deadly accuracy and other aspects of the game's hazards become more forgiving. Oddworld Inc. says that fans of the original should play the game on Hard, as this plays most similarly to the original. However, even this is more forgiving than the original, Oddworld: New n' Tasty has introduced a quick save and quick load button, by tapping and holding the back button. This feature can trivialise a lot of the game's trickier sequences. Not being forced to waste precious free time re-negotiating an entire segment just to get back to that one tricky part has been a welcome benefit. Purists can always just, you know, not use it.(I'm not going to deny that I felt a tad dirty for using it).
These are probably gripes you'll only have if you are playing the game from muscle memory like myself, but I found some of the hitboxes on some of the obstacles to be a tad quirky. It can be hard to judge just how close you can get to something before it will kill you, particularly when it comes to grinders and swinging boulders that seem to be overly sensitive. Running sequences haven't translated too well for similar reasons, as the speed of the camera can make it difficult to judge those rapid Elum jumps, but it is far from game breaking.
Oddworld: New n' Tasty also sports speedrun leaderboards, and a pseudo co-operative mode that allows two players to take it in turns. However, these are mostly a nod to the original's co-op option rather than a major feature.
New n' Tasty is a delicious, hearty meal
There is an achievement for completing New n' Tasty, rescuing every Mudokon in under 3 hours. Even with my knowledge of the original game and rescuing 74% of Abe's friends netted me a play time of 10 hours. At £14.99 / $19.99 respectively, I'd call that good eatin'.
Vast swathes of the game have been changed or updated with new puzzles and sequences for old timers to enjoy. The difficulty that may have served as a barrier to entry for some has been alleviated with less punishing play options.
New n' Tasty has sold over 2.4 million copies across all platforms as of writing this article, so I'll let the numbers speak with regards to its quality! Be sure to check out our Q&A session with the chaps at Oddworld Inhabitants, and be sure - if you're a fan of puzzle platformers, Oddworld: New n' Tasty is a must buy title.
Buy Oddworld: New n' Tasty from the Xbox Store ($19.99 / £14.99)
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!