You know, I feel a little bad reviewing Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. Not because it’s a bad game, or I’m going to give it a bad score, or something like that. No, I just feel bad because I didn’t have time to play all the Oddworld games in the years gone by. It’s a series that seems acclaimed by all who know it and love it, and it just wasn’t on my radar on release and I never considered seeking out once time had gone by. It makes me feel like, even as much as I liked this game, I wonder if someone else would have liked it more if they were a long time fan. Then again, my fresh eyes on the whole deal may give a different perspective, because, as much as the game is interesting, there are some terrible annoyances that do crop up.
With Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, you play Abe, the hero of the previous Oddworld titles, who is still running around in a bizarre landscape, and still being the breaker of chains. In previous titles, Abe helped to let some of his people go, and now he’s trying to free a new species called the Gabbits, which is being experimented upon and driven to extinction. The titular Munch is the very last of the Gabbits, and a shaman named Raisin has instructed Abe to find and rescue Munch. Abe knows he can’t make the journey alone, so he recruits many of his fellow Mukodons along the way to help get the Gabbit back. Munch, to his own credit, makes a point of helping out Abe later, especially when they find out the fate of both the Gabbit species and the Mukodons hang in the balance unless they can work together.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is a 3D platforming adventure with a lot of puzzle elements, and it can take a lot out of a player. Abe, whom you control for a good amount of the game, is tasked with collecting items, gathering helpful workers, and occasionally throwing said helpful workers. Abe uses a bit of magic to both make “spooceshrubs” grow (which are used to operate doors and other machines), and also can coax his comrades into doing things for him that Abe simply cannot accomplish himself. Munch, when you finally get to control him, has his own unique set of movements, including some sonar to control other beings from a distance and the important skill of “swimming,” which Abe conspicuously lacks. Both Abe and Munch need to rely on gangs of helpers in order to succeed: they will be greeted by enemies who want to harm them and only having people on hand to do the dirty work will you not die. Of course, there’ll be times where you need to go it alone, and, in these cases, Abe and Munch need to simply outrun and out-think the others to live.
This is apparently the first game in the series, which was fully in 3D, and I have to say that the team of Oddworld Inhabitants did a bang-up job of creating the world. Not only do the environments look fantastic and otherworldly, but the handling for both Abe and Munch (Abe moreso) is done tightly and successfully. You’re able to swing around the camera with ease, finding where you’d prefer to see from and executing forward motion without many hang-ups. After you get a hang of the depth perception of jumping and moving, Abe handles extremely well, able to get onto hard-to-reach platforms, navigating tight walkways, and even find secret paths that might help or hinder you depending on how many of the spooceshrubs you’ve collected (you need so many to open and activate a lot of doors). Moreover, this is a very successful port because it plays strongly on the Nintendo Switch. The framerate is high and consistent, looking good and smooth with no hiccups or long loading time. The few times that the game didn’t look crystal clear were intentional: the developers recycled the old cutscenes that they had made for the Xbox in order to showcase the nostalgia factor and also to allow players to see the then and now sort of comparison.
Also, the humour of Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is pretty solid throughout. When you first see the minorly grotesque appearances of our heroes, you might think there’s something grim or dark at hand, and, indeed, the plot feels that way (particularly because there is an avoidable but still present “bad ending” waiting for you). However, from the dialogue itself to the interactions of Abe and Munch with their buddies, there’s a surprising and welcome silliness to the whole ordeal. While the game can be overbearing with how many random farts you may hear, it helps to give a better sense of what Oddworld is like. There’s something comical about picking up a fellow Mukodon by his loincloth and hurling him where he needs to go. The command “go beat ‘em up!” is pretty stellar, giving this a sort of juvenile but not immature tone. And, again, the cutscenes help to pepper in some solid jokes, particularly when Munch first meets his Fuzzle friends. This title does a wonderful job of not taking itself too seriously while not specifically being a joke game.
If, like me, you’ve never played an Oddworld game before, there’s the option to watch a sort of background story mega movie clip, which did a wonderful job of selling me on the lore of Oddworld and also why Abe is who he is and what the importance of helping Munch is. Very rarely do we get this level of exposition, but it helps a ton in this case. The Nintendo Switch is a breeding ground for new players who both see this as their first system (amazing) and their first system in years or decades. Having something to fill in the gaps – to let everyone know WHY we think this dude is the saviour – is important, and I sincerely appreciate it. Plus, you know, getting to watch old school game video clips is always an enjoyable moment.
Players who are looking for a 3D platforming experience with more of a focus on puzzle solving and problem reasoning are going to find a lot of joy in Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. There’s such a variety of landscapes and personalities, and a great sense of accomplishment when you finally reason out the answers to what needs to be done. Making sure to get in the habit of saving and loading whenever things get a bit hairy is a must, and you can thankfully save at any point in the game. Everything that needs to be refreshed and look cleaner has been taken to task, and everything that holds the charm of a generation gone by has been preserved for both historic and also artistic reasons. Honestly, I think I’m going to go hunt down the other games. I think I’d like to see how Abe got to where he is today.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
The only truly odd thing about this game is that there weren’t more espresso machines: you can never have too many.