The Oddworld series is a rare example of a creative team finding the exact perfect tonal point for a game satirising conspicuous consumerism by blending just the right amounts of gritty grimdark corporate industrialism with quirky, wacky, off-the-walls humour in such a way that it perfectly creates this horrific mercantile dystopian setting that still remains fun and engaging to explore the world and lore of.
This aforementioned sci-fi alien world is the vehicle for the titular Abe to engage in a quest to emancipate his downtrodden slave-caste species from their oppressors from their brutal reality.
Gameplay itself sees the player control Abe as he navigates through a number of platform-puzzle screens each filled with an array of vicious trigger-happy enemies, deadly mechanical traps, and environmental hazards designed to bring about a quick end to yourself and the number of friendly NPCs Abe will have in-toe at any given time.
The aim of gameplay is to safely lead as many of these NPCs through the levels in your wake after clearing the way of danger. While Abe may be totally lacking in combat ability or any substantial physical prowess whatsoever, he does possess a great capacity to instruct his freed brethren to work together cohesively, with an extensive array of commands able to be issued to friendly characters at any time during gameplay.
Abe’s Oddysee pulls no punches in delivering a gameplay experience that while not obtuse, is still mercilessly challenging - especially if one aims to achieve the ‘good’ ending where a majority of Abe’s followers live to see freedom, or heaven forbid, a perfect ending with no casualties whatsoever. Nevertheless, such difficulty only means you will be able to drink in all of Oddworld’s delicious charm and fantastically detailed art design and credible megacorp-run world design.
If you’re looking for a great classic platformer that runs on the world slow and contemplative side of things, this is it. If you’re seeking a bit of late-Nineties nostalgia ported over to Steam with the usual bells and whistles of Trading Cards, Badges, and a great deal of community support, you’ve found it. Or if you just want to mess around in a charming and unique little reactive sci-fi world that has room for simultaneous corporate satire, religious allegory, and a slave-race of bipedal lizard-men that can make fart jokes and chuckle to themselves throughout their wretched existence, this is that oddly specific thing you want.