Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
While recently playing the wondrous but flawed Rain World, I was reminded of poor Abe. The original Oddysee was a belter, yes, but with Exoddus I feel the developers at Oddworld Inhabitants really perfected their art. They were able to keep all the usual stuff (running, jumping, possessing the baddies and saving your mates) while introducing a bunch of weird new ideas. It expanded the “gamespeak”, granted Mudokons different emotional states, and allowed you to possess your own farts. You can’t ask much more from a game released in 1998.
Abe is a character who is rarely done in games – a mostly powerless and physically weak schlemiel with good intentions. He spends most of his time avoiding creatures and running from fights. And plainly embedded among the fart jokes and slapstick is a resounding environmentalist message: don’t make booze from the bones of dead people. But also, yes, don’t destroy the natural world for profit.
The beautiful thing about Abe is that he isn’t even a pacifist, he is a militant conservationist. Un-possessing animals like the Paramites or Scrabs will leave the creatures as they were. But un-possessing a Slig or Glukkon – the “humanoid” baddies – will result in an explosion of guts and gore. He’s a vengeful ex-slave.
Oddysee was remade in the form of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, but Exoddus will always be the one for me. There’s just something very appealing about guiding a fart down a long passage and detonating it in the face of a nasty industrialist. And that makes the news about Oddworld: Soulstorm, a possible remake, all the more interesting.