Sunday, February 25, 2024

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A Bad Batch of Beer

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Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to free her Mudoken brothers from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through difficult dangers, sweating that one mistake could destroy your best efforts. If you like this old school challenge, you might like this trip. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan who thinks this style of platforming hasn’t aged very well, check back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of serious technical issues plague Abe’s return attempt.

A reinvention of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through danger-strewn 2D platform stages. As charming as classic Oddworld games are, they can be extremely difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most of Slig’s enemies and other dangers mowed down Abe instantly, and I was furious at how little leeway I had to correct course when things went awry. Abe drops so quickly that the health meter seems like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was stepping on eggshells because of this high cost of failure, retracing each step, re-recruiting each Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a glove. enemies is heartbreaking when it all falls apart. seconds. Dying from unexpected dangers, like being suddenly shot by offscreen enemies, seems cheap and happens all too often.

A crafting system is Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t seem like it’s necessary. You have to repeatedly collect the same ingredients every time you die (looking for lockers, trash cans, and fallen enemies), which made me hastily exhausted after repeatedly replaying some sections. Self-crafted tools like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower add a welcome element of flexibility and improvisation to the gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding places anywhere is fine, but I wish I hadn’t had to craft these items myself and got bored of digging around the same spots over and over again.

Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases, the gameplay is bland. The action is largely the same as in previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t change significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the most interesting sequences, like facing a giant robot on a bullet train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad Abe has better control now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a lack of sluggish response which makes actions like owning Sligs a problem. Checks also result in additional fatalities as Abe doesn’t act as quickly as you need to, especially during the terrible and ill-suited combat arenas that pit you against waves of villains as you try to protect the fleeing Mudokens. .

Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans, but I’ve encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day one patch) that should scare even these players. When I died, the Mudoken sometimes failed to reappear alongside me even though my tally indicated that they were still alive and under my command. This meant that I had wasted time recruiting followers that I had spent centuries trying to safely unleash, which negatively impacted my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you are. get.

Abe sometimes gets stuck in the geometry of the environment, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. An escape portal is permanently gone once I reach it, forcing me to abandon the followers. A cannon in an end-game turret sequence failed to fire despite the previous segments functioning properly. After several reboots, I randomly discovered that clicking the right joystick was “fixing” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly difficult area, but once I opened the exit door, an invisible wall kept me from moving forward. I had to restart this long, long streak twice before the output worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to the limit, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What’s gonna fuck me this time?” I have regularly wondered.

The faults of Soulstorm are a shame because its story and its presentation made me smile. Abe and his pals are wacky, charming underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The pleasant story is full of heart and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe to a new generation of games with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to explain why its cinematic platform brand works today. In fact, Soulstorm has only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best seen with rose-colored glasses.


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