Published on July 14th, 2016 | by Matthew Noojin1
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee Review
An entire generation of gamers hold the Oddworld series in the same esteem that their predecessors reserved for Mario, Zelda, Sonic, and Doom. Over the course of four games, the first of which was released very early on in the Playstation’s lifecycle, Oddworld Inhabitants Inc. created a vibrant alien world, vividly realized via the use of the unique capabilities of the new generation of game systems and the growing emphasis on 3D graphics. The combination of compelling characters, an intricately detailed surrealist sci-fi universe, and clever, innovative platforming gameplay provided gamers young and old with an edgy, offbeat alternative to the sunny polygon-limned vistas of Super Mario 64 and the murky caverns of the Tomb Raider games.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was originally released in 2001 for the fledgling Microsoft Xbox console. Building on both the world and the gameplay conventions established by the first two games, Munch brought the series into full 3D while introducing new experiments in puzzle design and platforming; much like its predecessors, it was quite unlike anything else on the market at the time. It continued the series’ explorations of the comedic and emotional content of digital storytelling at a time when first person shooters were beginning to tighten their grasp on the top sellers list. As such, the game seemed out of step with the times, gaining the reputation of the black sheep of the franchise. Luckily, the pervasiveness of HD remakes and reimaginings has given worthy games like Munch’s Oddysee a second life. And gamers are much better off for it. After an initial Steam release, followed by making the rounds on console downloadable stores, the HD remake of Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee has finally landed on Android. Despite some minor issues with the experience of platforming on a touchscreen, this may well be the definitive version of the game.
Munch’s Oddysee places you in control of Munch and Abe, two extraterrestrials crusading for the liberation of their species from the evil Vykkers Labs, an evil corporation worthy of a dystopian novel. Guiding our heroes through the levels is a matter of cleverly designed platform levels and puzzles. The trademark “Possession” gameplay mechanic returns, where players can temporarily “possess” an enemy character for tactical use in puzzles or combat. This mechanic is endlessly fun, and adds a replayability to many levels that can be approached differently depending on the player’s style. Along the way, new abilities can be gained by picking up power-ups and allies within levels, providing much needed variety to the intense 3D platforming.
The audio and visuals are reproduced here beautifully; if your Android device can play this game, it is truly a showcase for the graphical capabilities of the current crop of mobile games. Playing the game on a tablet with headphones is a powerful, immersive experience. No game in the series has ever shown this level of polish; hopefully this will lead to the cult title receiving the mainstream attention it always warranted.
The game’s one pitfall is the inevitable difficulties that touchscreen platformers struggle with: its controls. The game feels similar to other HD remakes released on Android, like the PS2 Grand Theft Auto games, which weren’t recreated with the intrinsic pros and cons of the touchscreen interface; the touchscreen “analog” stick and camera controls just lack the responsiveness and tactile nature you get from holding a controller in your hand. Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee isn’t a very hard game, but the controls do get in the way of the experience. Luckily, the developers compensated for this with a robust checkpoint and saving system that feels adequately balanced and never cheap.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is a lovingly constructed resurrection of a classic. Its hilarious, heartbreaking story, visionary variations on the platformer genre, and endlessly inventive visuals make for a wonderful introduction to the Oddworld series, and should capture the imaginations of a new generation of gamers on the Android platform.
Is it Hardcore?
Summary: Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is a faithful HD upgrade of a widely loved gem of a game. This Android release is perfect for true believers and new fans alike.