Since the series' debut, Oddworld has become something of a cult classic. Released during the early Playstation days where some of the greatest videogames of all time where hitting the shelves, Abe's Oddysee was the very definition of charm. A tad too bizarre for some (notice how I didn't say 'odd' – that's what we call self-restraint, kids) Oddworld remains a lovably imaginative and creative franchise which has been noticeably absent from this console generation…until recently. With the HD re-release of Stranger’s Wrath and Munch’s Oddysee – and a full-blown remake of the Abe's Oddysee in the works, Oddworld and its colorful inhabitants have slowly been charming their way back into the spotlight.
It is indeed wonderful to see such a beloved series come into the modern age. And hopefully, 2013 is going to be a big year for the The series original creator however, Oddworld Inhabitants, has not been as directly involved as before, with the latest re-releases and upcoming remake being handled mainly by Just Add Water. It comes as no surprise considering OWI's track record which includes just a whole bunch of games that never saw the light of day.
Just to clarify, I could not be happier with Abe and co. returning to the gamesphere; Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty! looks absolutely stunning at this early stage. But a quick rundown of the Oddworld Inhabitant's list of unreleased titles and you can see why there might be cause for concern. Abe and the Mudokon race notwithstanding, OWI was also working on a project by the name of Citizen Siege which has yet to see the light day.. So while Just Add Water wasn't exactly a part of the original band of creative geniuses who came up with such a remarkable and awe-inspiring world, the developer's involvement with all-things-Oddworld gives the franchise a certain credibility. And their passion for Abe and his kind goes above and beyond what many would expect.
Currently on the Oddworld homepage, a poll asks series' fans on which project Just Add Water should pursue next. A glance of the list reveals many of the aforementioned unreleased titles along with the call of something entirely new (but set against the backdrop of the Oddworld universe). As of this writing, an HD version of Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus holds a slight lead. This level of community participation is practically unprecedented, and goes far beyond a studio asking for fans to tweet or comment suggestions. Frankly, if Oddworld were a much larger franchise, this approach might not even work. I mean, could you imagine Ubisoft holding a vote to see what historical time period the next Assassin's Creed game should be set in?
Just Add Water's HD face-lift of Munch's Oddysee and Stranger's Wrath may be one thing but the upcoming remake of Abe’s Oddysee is different creature entirely. Aside from the obvious graphical overhaul, it also plays very differently from the two HD re-releases. While this might have been an issue some years ago, the resurgence of side-scrolling titles courtesy of Shank, Limbo, Mark of the Ninja, Super Meat Boy, and Fez have made Oddworld's return to form so much more easier to accept. It's not a stretch to postulate that the future of the series rests on the success of this remake. After all, it's not entirely easy to re-introduce a franchise that saw its last major release in 2005. But given the lush, wondrous setting of the series, I honestly don't see why the remake won't be the start of bigger things to come down the line.
There was a time where Oddworld was just about the most darling game you could ever play. From the get-go OWI envisioned an incredibly deep Oddworld saga set across multiple games, detailing the various lifeforms that inhabit its strange world. New N' Tasty! is doing a lot more than rekindling that old nostalgic flame; it has the potential usher in an entirely new fanbase that, together with the existing bunch, can support this franchise and ensure sequel after whimsical sequel for years to come.
2013 may very well be the Year of Oddworld if things go smoothly. While the previously released HD remakes were not without their bugs and detractors, Just Add Water’s has proven its loyalty to the series. The day will come when we will hear Abe say, "Follow Me" to one of his Mudokon brethren. Let's just hope we don't run into too many Sligs along the way.
Written by Associate Staff Writer Reuben Levine. Questions for the author? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.