Odd by name, odd by mothereffin’ nature.
‘Fart power! Abe can even possess his own farts and blow stuff up,’ quoth the back of the Abe’s Exoddus box. ‘No other game has it… no other game wants it!’ Just so you know what you’re getting into here. Strap yourself in, gentlemen. It’s going to be a bumpy ride; into a bizarro world where you can pilot your own explosive farts.
First, a little background fact-tacular. Oddworld is the name of the planet on which the game is set, its own little universe in another dimension. It’s a vast world under threat by the bastardry of big-business (if there were intergalactic rivers to divert from intergalactic African villages for an intergalactic soft drink factory, these assholes would be on that like a shot), and populated by the weirdest space-weirds you’ll find this side of that bar in Tatooine.
Two such species are the Glukkons and Mudokons, and the assholery of the first to the second leads to the events of Abe’s Exoddus. So let’s take a look.
Abe is a Mudokon, and the player character of this crazy-ass platformer. His people have been enslaved the Glukkons (a second time, following on from Abe’s Odysee), shanghaied into producing the soft drink SoulStorm in an Oddworld factory. The drink, we’re told, is made from ‘Mudokon sweat and tears.’ So, what have we learned so far? These guys are dicks. Naturally, Abe has mixed, mostly rage-based feelings about the whole situation, and sets out to infiltrate the complex and rescue these groovy green dudes.
So, to sum up: part Metal Gear Solid, part Lemmings. If you’re not sold by that, you never will be.
Abe’s Exoddus doesn’t dick around with the usual platformer tropes. It’s not big on snow levels, lava levels, jungle levels or any of that BS. Who has time for that? What we have here is a whole lot of industrial gray and beige. Grimy mechanical doohickeys, angry guards with angrier machine guns, that sort of thing. It’s a dark world, as you can tell from the plot.
In a fight, our buddy Abe would be as much use as a one-legged kitten in a coma. Any hit from the enemies is an insta-death sort of deal, so he has to be a little sneakier than that. Which is fine, because you’re able to possess foes as well as your own ass-gas. By doing so, you can attack other enemies, set their own guard dogs on them or make them kill themselves. Natch, though, the player character is left vulnerable while doing so, so you’ll have to take care with it.
This puzzly platformer can be a real challenge, with an emotion mechanic to deal with as well. The Mudokons you meet can be depressed, ill, hopped up on SoulStorm, angry or blind, and each will need to be dealt with differently if you want to save them. GameSpeak is another feature, which allows Abe to talk to them and console the depressed or tell the angry ones to, y’know, stop that crazy shit (angries tend to slap the hell out of any Mudokons in the vicinity). With this, possessed enemies can also give orders to their minions.
All of this makes for a unique experience unlike just about anything else. Abe’s Exoddus hit the PS1 in 1998, and is still highly recommended for genre fans looking for a deep, challenging and thought-provoking ride. You don’t get that from Mario, that’s for damn sure.