Alright, first time Oddworld player here. I actually got this game before it came out, but it ended up being released as a PlayStation Plus game shortly after release, so again, I’m probably late to the party. That said, I’ve been playing it on and off the past month so I thought I’d throw together this quick video.
So, I’m going to admit right off the bat that this game is a bit rough. Not just because I am a first-time player of the series, but because the game itself is a “re-imagining” of the 1998 Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus and this re-imagining may be sticking a little too close to that original.
For example, the gameplay has its ups and downs, but the overall movement is downright awful. It is incredibly clunky, with stiff jumps, funky hitboxes, and an overall feeling of detachment from the character you are controlling. As this is a platformer, these faults are quickly noticed and just as quickly became a pain the more you play. A jump that should be simple somehow doesn’t connect or a ledge that you should be able to grab onto just does not do that.
Then there is the puzzle design. This aspect of the game varies wildly in its quality. There were some puzzles that had me going “wow, that’s actually a really cool solution”, but those are weighed down by others that just come across as tedious. I would immediately see the solution to a puzzle, but would have to go through this long and oftentimes boring process of solving it, whether that be sneaking around sleeping dogs over and over or having to constantly take control of a group of enemies one by one just to pass through a small section.
This is coupled with the fact that there are also several puzzles designed around trial and error, evident by the numerous checkpoints placed before them. You are expected to die quite a bit and I found myself stumbling through a good chunk of these puzzles figuring it out as I go. It is not that they lack direction, but rather that you sometimes won’t know what works until you actually try it (such as an enemy’s weapon range on a given ledge).
So what was one of the game’s stronger points averages out to being just “okay”. I mean, it’s not outright terrible, but it never quite loses that overall dated feeling – not surprising given its ties to a release from over 20 years ago.
Something the game does well with no reservations is the scale of its levels. You start off in a cave burning down and then travel through some old ruins, a canyon with a blimp blasting at you, and then some old mines full of enemies. It jumps around quite a bit, but all of these are very grand in their presentation. They are large, open, and full of hidden goodies to find. In fact, there might actually be too many hidden goodies to find (furthering the overall tedium), but this might not be a bad thing for completionists that enjoy hunting them down.
Still, that doesn’t make it any less annoying to go hunting for these collectibles only to find materials for the game’s completely unnecessary crafting system – because I guess every release nowadays has to have one.
As for the story, it’s actually pretty cool, which was honestly a bit surprising. I did not go into this game expecting much from that department, so I was really impressed when they brought on these full-blown CG cutscenes that give the experience a more cinematic feel to it. It’s generally light on the dialogue – and the plot itself is simple – but I kinda liked it. The music may not be much, but the voice acting and graphics are some good stuff and really elevate the experience there.
When it comes to the more technical aspects, I did not appear to run into any of the bugs I’ve seen others complain about. Maybe it’s because the game has been patched up a bit since release, but it was a relatively smooth experience for me minus some odd physics and hitbox issues. The FPS on PS5 is stable as well at 1080p and the loading times are almost a nonissue.
As for whether I’d recommend the game, I’m leaning more towards no. Oddworld: Soulstorm is not necessarily bad, but the gameplay is very hit or miss and even when it is good, it still never loses that “dated” feel to it. Of course, this is a re-imagining of an older game so that is to be expected to an extent – I guess it comes down to whether or not you’re a newcomer or fan of the series. I am new to it and would definitely not recommend it to others in the same position as me, there’s better puzzle-platformers out there even if this one has its strong points.
Quote: Oddworld: Soulstorm is not necessarily bad, but the gameplay is very hit or miss and never quite loses that “dated” feel to it. Maybe worth a look for fans, but not a good choice for newcomers.
Oddworld: Soulstorm retails for $50 USD on the PlayStation Store.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.