Whilst he is most synonymous with his 2D adventures in the PlayStation era, Oddworld’s most dedicated and delightful hero Abe also saw a lesser-known transition to 3D when Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee launched on the original Xbox. Sure, he may not have been the title star anymore, but he still played as important a role as ever as he worked with his new sidekick Munch to help save the Mudokons once more.
Now, nearly twenty years on from the game’s debut, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee has brought its zany adventure over to the Nintendo Switch in a fancier HD form. Does the 3D adventure in Oddworld hold up well though, or should Abe have simply stuck to working across a 2D plane?
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee follows on from the events of the previous games, except this time around the vicious Glukkons have set their sights on a species known as the Gabbits. I guess the Mudokons are getting a bit of a well-deserved break, right? Well, apparently not, because Abe is still looking to rescue his imprisoned brethren and bring them back to safety. Along the way he encounters Munch, who just so happens to BE one of the last remaining Gabbits. It’s only natural then that they’d work together as they look to bring down the Glukkons and save their species.
It’s the same dystopian style of tale we’ve seen from the series in the past, with plenty of Oddworld bizarreness added to the mix to keep it feeling unique throughout. I’ve always been a fan of this world ever since I played the original game on the PlayStation, so seeing it expanded on on a wider scale and with more depth in Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was a real delight. There are multiple endings on offer based upon how successful you are at saving your comrades too, which continues the trend of the previous games and also adds a sense of replayability to the experience.
The gameplay sees you switching between Abe and Munch as you work through an assortment of 3D levels that mix up platforming with puzzling, with the abilities of both characters required if you’re going to succeed. Abe is quite nimble as far as platforming is concerned and is once again able to possess the minds of other creatures, whilst Munch can zoom around on his wheelchair, command the furry yet menacing Fuzzles to do his work, and also swim (which poor Abe just cannot do). Each level is made up of an assortment of puzzles that’ll require the player to use both of these skillsets synonymously in order to succeed, and believe me, you’ll have to think carefully and formulate plans thoroughly if you want to survive the deadly journey.
Much like the game’s predecessors, Abe is also able to communicate with other Mudokons to issue commands by speaking to them in-game. It never stops being satisfying to hear Abe mutter phrases, right? This is all pretty straight-forward in design, but it does emphasise the importance of keeping your allies alive if you want to make it through the game’s many obstacles.
Between all of the gameplay mechanics, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee offers plenty of variety in its level design. You’ll face trials that require you to be slow and methodical, you’ll face those that require you to act as fast as you can, whilst other occasions you’ll face chaotic situations that’ll really push you to your limit. It makes for an enjoyable escapade and one that really embraces the zany nature of the Oddoworld lore.
Whilst I appreciated Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’s gameplay variety and its charming tale, it does have a fair few flaws that are a little difficult to ignore. For one, the controls lacked precision and could feel particularly clunky in places, especially when you’re working through platforming segments that demanded quick and accurate manoeuvres. The camera could feel like it was working against you at times too, especially in the more confined areas where objects are more likely to block the camera’s view. The combination of the two could make for some frustrating moments in-game, especially when being pursued by enemies or during those puzzles where you need to react quickly – it led to quite a few unnecessary deaths that I probably wouldn’t have suffered in a modern game with more refined controls.
It all looks very dated too, regardless of the clean lick of paint that the HD upgrade has brought. Now I wasn’t expecting a visual masterpiece, especially when you consider that Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is close to twenty years old, but some of its locales felt particularly barren in design whilst some sketchy textures are present too. There aren’t any subtitles in the game either, which just feels like a weird design choice in 2020. Hopefully, the developer can bring them to the game in a future patch.
Did these imperfections stop me from enjoying my time with Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee? Certainly not, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth mentioning. On the flipside, there have been some improvements made to the game too, with the game hitting a consistent 60fps when playing in both the Switch’s handheld and docked modes. It features HD rumble too, so you’ll get to feel the satisfying buzz of each and every action you make in-game.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee offers a varied and enjoyable experience, though it is guilty of showing its age in multiple facets of its design. The controls and the camera are the worst offenders and I can imagine that they’ll cause a few frustrating moments for some players.
Still, with each character’s varied skillset, the clever puzzle design, and the charming and quirky world, there’s also plenty to love about Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. It might not necessarily hit the heights of its 2D predecessors, but it still manages to offer a neat adventure that’s more than worthy of the Oddworld name.
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC