Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee -- New 'n' Tasty
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee -- New 'n' Tasty is a downloadable platformer and puzzle game that puts players in the tattered loincloth of a slave-like alien factory worker rebelling against his company overlords. The story is loaded with anti-corporate and anti-consumerism messaging, as well as a clear warning about using endangered species as food. Abe isn't a fighter, but he's not averse to leading his enemies into explosive traps that result in characters being literally blown to bits. He's also in possession of psychic powers that allow him to take control of his enemies by chanting. Thanks to the violence, mature messages, and surprising difficulty level, this game is best suited for teens and up.
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What's it about?
A high-definition remake of Oddworld Inhabitants' 1997 PlayStation One classic, ODDWORLD: ABE'S ODDYSEE -- NEW 'N' TASTY puts players in control of Abe, a factory worker on an alien world filled with curious creatures. He's treated more or less as a slave but doesn't really question his place in the grand scheme of things or the products manufactured by his company: processed foods made with animals driven to the point of extinction. Then one day, he gets a glimpse of the factory's next product: a meaty snack made out of his own people. Caught eavesdropping, Abe rushes to escape the factory, trying to save as many of his doomed coworkers as he can along the way. The action plays out as a side-scrolling adventure. Abe runs, jumps, and uses his wits and newfound spiritual abilities to evade or kill his enemies. He also encounters lots of challenging and potentially deadly contextual puzzles that require clever manipulation of switches, mines, and other objects in the environment.
Is it any good?
This lovingly made remake of the game that initiated Abe's adventures acts as both a gift to Oddworld's older fans and an entry point for younger, avid gamers yet to experience this bizarre and beautiful universe. It retains much of what made the original so memorable, including challenging puzzles that reward careful observation and a narrative meant to make us think about our own culture's sometimes blind capitalism and the potential consequences of our ravenous consumerism. Think of it as Horton Hears a Who for the teen-plus set.
This version takes things a step further by delivering a truly beautiful graphical experience. Oddworld may be a gloomy place, but in this remake it's alive with layers, colors, and details. It's a proper next-generation visual experience. And the characters -- especially Abe -- are bursting with subtle bits of personality that range from distinctive movements to jokey mumbling that may just make you laugh out loud if you can catch what they're saying. Just keep in mind that the puzzles can be pretty hard and the action unforgiving. Getting a feel for the touchy running and jumping controls takes some patience. But if you can manage to make your way through the first few challenging levels, you'll likely find that you won't want to put your controller down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media in games such as Abe's Odyssey. Abe -- who wields no weapons and doesn't even engage in hand-to-hand combat -- isn’t a traditional game hero, yet he proves himself willing to kill his opponents -- sometimes in gruesome ways -- by luring them into traps. He even giggles about it afterward. Are his actions justified by the narrative?
Consumerism can be defined as the drive to increase our consumption of products and goods. What benefits might this have for our economy? What detriments might it be associated with in terms of our culture? What is the game's take on consumerism?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox One
- Subjects: Science: ecosystems
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
Responsibility & Ethics: learning from consequences, respect for others
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
- Release date: July 22, 2014
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Language, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco
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