Review: Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD
Most games aren’t given a second chance to succeed. If a good game doesn’t do well, it’s usually buried with the God Hands of the world, relegated to those titles looked back on fondly, but with the knowledge that you might never play anything quite like it again for some time. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is without a doubt one of the most curious gaming experiences I’ve had in a while, melding together a solid third person platforming game with a solid first person shooter to create something that is quite unlike anything else I’ve played.
The story is simple at first glance. You’re a bounty hunter, and there are bandits to capture. Of course, it isn’t that simple really, with there being a great many twists in the tale to keep it fresh and interesting throughout your quest, which will take you roughly 10 hours to complete. However, where Stranger’s Wrath HD excels is in the world it creates and populates with a range of deranged and fascinating characters. You want to know where they all came from, and how they all got where they are when you meet them, with the Stranger himself being no exception to this rule. A tall, deliberate speaking enigma, you know very little about him when you start the game. In fact, you’re introduced to him as he chases a bounty, and you don’t even know his name. It’s an interesting wrinkle to the story, as you don’t go in to the tale knowing anything more than a name and a purpose, leaving the drive to unravel the mystery of your character at the forefront of the game as a whole.
In terms of gameplay, Stranger’s Wrath alternates between first person and third person at the click of a stick. Third person is for platform jumping and melee combat, first person is for taking care of guys with your crossbow. Changing between modes is seamless and fast, with the added speed given to your character in third person proving vital in giving you some distance away from the foes you’re currently facing off against. Combat is, in a word, insane. Enemies are constantly peppering you with buckshot of varying degrees of accuracy, and the variety of ammunition at your disposal ensures that you’re almost constantly finding new and inventive ways of either knocking out or killing your opponent. Notice that I said “ammunition” and not “weapons”. Stranger’s Wrath HD takes an extremely literal look at the term “live ammo”, with your various pellets and projectiles found nestled all around the world, scampering around fields and buzzing about in the sky. It’s certainly an unconventional way of collecting ammo, but the toys you get to play with are often hilarious, and definitely a lot of fun to mix and match with. Firing a skunk into a crowd to make them violently ill, and then cleaning up with a couple of explosive critters is a sure fire way of clearing a room, and it always raised a smile.
By virtue of this game being an HD remake, there are of course some graphical improvements. However, by no means is this your typical re-render and UI scale job. What looks to be every asset in the game has been upgraded, character models have been gifted with larger polygon counts, and even the audio quality has been dramatically improved. It’s above and beyond the currently established standard of HD remakes that have been slowly populating the store, and the fresh coat of paint the game has received is nothing short of astounding. It’s quite incredible how thorough the upgrade has been, the game doesn’t show its Xbox 1 roots at all, and at times the vistas are really spectacular. It’s a true remake, with the original’s design intact, but everything else updated for a modern audience with such loving care and an attention to detail that it’s hard to not appreciate just how much work has been put in to making this game look and sound great. I mean, the Sloghandlers now release Slogs instead of Slegs like they did in the original, which I think perfectly emphasizes just how loving a remake this is.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is a wonderful game that has been lovingly updated for its PSN release. Time hasn’t changed just how fun it is to play, the story is just as intriguing and mysterious as it was all those years ago, and the voice acting is still wonderfully off kilter. If you never played it when it first came out, I forgive you. Just make sure that you play it this time around.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- As an update to a classic game, it's best in class
- Even better, the original game holds up wonderfully
What I Dislike:
- Minor technical issues, but they don't spoil the experience at all.