Brendy might have made an excellent case for Abe’s Exoddus being the better of the two original Oddworld games, but for me Abe’s Oddysee will always be the greatest. It was dirty but gorgeous, unpolished but refined, and filled with dark humour and brilliant ideas. But the main thing is that Abe’s Oddysee had those diabolical temple runs.
If you’ve played any of the games in the unfinished Oddworld quintology (or, indeed, the lovely but rather-too-polished remake of Abe’s Oddysee, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!), you’ll almost certainly be able to conjure up the delightful, awful images of Paramites and Scrabs at a moment’s notice. Oddworld did enemy design better than anyone, and I’d say Scrabs and Paramites were their magnum opus.
You get to meet both these marvellous creatures in abundance throughout Abe’s Oddysee, but nowhere are they more plentiful or dangerous than in their respective temples: the very creatively named Paramonia and Scrabania. As the hapless, pacifistic former-slave mudokon Abe, you must go into both temples and complete the trials within. The final trials in each temple were known as the Paramite Run and the Scrab Run. And oh boy, were they fantastic.
The thing to understand about Abe’s Oddysee is that it’s very choppy, very stop-and-start. You get tonnes of safe spaces to figure out a plan; the actual carrying out of that plan to get you through the un-safe spaces takes a handful of seconds, and then you’re into the next safe space. But the temple runs don’t have that. They’re absolutely relentless. You just have to keep going and going until you reach the end, and there are so many moments where it seems like you can just stop for a breather, but it’s all a lie. Suddenly Paramites will come abseiling (or para-seiling… heh, heh) down from the ceiling, or Scrabs will come bolting out from off-screen and devour you in an instant.
So you just… keep going. The videos below make it look easy, but with the movement being so clunky and each run and jump and roll being so difficult to get right, let me tell you, this was a real challenge for me. It’s very much the same as what Ori and the Blind Forest did nearly two decades later with their phenomenal escape sequences. The adrenaline was real, guys. It was real.