Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee -- New 'n' Tasty

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Smart, tough remake of classic, message-driven platformer.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a game that wants players to think about where the things they purchase come from, the people who work in the factories, and the executives who call the shots. The story revolves around an evil company exploiting and driving animals to extinction for the purpose of creating processed foods. It also treats its factory workers like slaves. While all of this is clearly intended to be negative and the game's underlying anti-corporate, anti-consumerism message is delivered with frequent doses of dark humor, the jokes remove little of its edge.

Positive role models

Abe starts off as a simple factory worker and unthinking consumer. But when he gets a peek behind the curtain and sees how the company operates and what it's planning to do next, he becomes an unlikely hero to his fellow workers, attempting to free them while foiling the factory's plans. He's generally a pretty good guy with noble motives, but he's not averse to killing his pursuers in surprisingly gory ways and then giggling about it. He also likes to laugh at his own farts.

Ease of play

This is no beginner's platformer/puzzler. The running and jumping sequences require a deft touch, and the puzzles often result in plenty of head-scratching. There are lots of hints scattered around the game world, but many of them are pretty cryptic. An "easy" difficulty setting provides some relief in the action scenarios, but make no mistake: This is a hard game.

Violence

Abe rarely engages in direct combat, save to toss the occasional grenade. But he often lures enemies into explosive traps. He can also use his psychic abilities to take control of some foes, making them attack their comrades or causing them to explode into chunks via a psychic energy overload. Players will also encounter the red carcasses of various animals used in food manufacturing.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The narrative contains a strong anti-consumerism bent.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An evil corporate executive chomps on a lit cigar.

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. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • ecosystems

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • respect for others

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Oddworld's lush presentation and distinct personality should go a long way with teens craving something unusual. Much of the adventure's creative feel comes from Abe, the hero of the game, whose curious and engaging demeanor will amuse players. Just keep in mind that less experienced gamers may get hung up on the higher-than-average difficulty. 

Learning Approach

The game encourages players to think about problems in our world by framing them in a new perspective via an alien culture suffering similar -- if perhaps somewhat exaggerated -- issues, such as slavery, species endangerment, and consumerism. Its contextual conundrums will give kids' puzzle-solving skills a thorough workout.

Support

There are plenty of hints, but some feel pretty cryptic. No official supports exist outside the game. Some of the more challenging puzzles likely will lead kids to seek help online or from friends and family.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • ecosystems

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • respect for others

Kids can learn about the potential consequences of mindless consumerism while practicing their puzzle-solving skills. The story about a profit-driven alien corporation that enslaves its workforce and hunts animals to near-extinction is over-the-top yet familiar. Players will easily draw parallels with similar situations in our own world. Nestled between these social messages are some highly challenging puzzles that should prove a serious logical test even for seasoned gamers. It's not really appropriate for younger kids, but teens who give Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee -- New 'n' Tasty a chance are in for a pretty good mental workout.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

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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?

QUALITY

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.  

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox One
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

This review of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee -- New 'n' Tasty was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byTheSpoiler March 6, 2015

Just as good as the original!!

I've been playing the the original Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee my whole life, and this remake stays true to it!! It's got all the same scenes, except revamped and even more gorgeous!! (Which is also kind of a downside, though, because the bad graphics made the original so much creepier) Definitely worth every penny!!

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