Date: October 2004 Author: Greg Orlando Source: Electronic Gaming Monthly, Issue 183, p. 51
Oddworld returns with a chip on its shoulder
Your last encounter with the bizarre realm of Oddworld came in 2001, when Munch’s Oddysee delivered a double dose of strangeness to the Xbox launch. The game earned high scores in EGM and performed well at retail, but Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning doesn’t look back on it fondly. “Munch was a big lesson for us,” he admits. “The technology drove the story, and going forward, I refuse to water down the Oddworld epics for the sake of this hardware cycle’s limitations.”
So Lanning’s new title, Stranger (due in spring 2005), isn’t a proper Oddworld game (he has a quintology of five games planned; Munch was the second), but rather a side story. Seemingly freed from the constraints of the past titles, Stranger marks a decidedly new direction for the Oddworld universe. Lovable protagonists Abe and Munch are notably absent. Also, the series now shifts from platforming adventures emphasizing stealth and brains to a more action-oriented first- and third person run-and-gun experience.
The titular Stranger works as a bounty hunter and runs afoul of the Outlaws, a bunch of dirty dealers with names like Filthy Hands Floyd and The Looten Duke. Using his dual-ammo crossbow and powerful natural abilities (a running ram and wicked punch used in third-person), Stranger must bring in the Outlaws one after another. Dead is fine, but the bounty is higher if they come in breathing.
Here, Stranger shows its Oddworld heritage. The ammunition Stranger uses is quite literally “live ammo” that must be hunted and collected. Chippunks, when shot, land on the ground and begin talking smack; enemies rush to them and begin stomping in an attempt to shut them up. Fuzzballs act as land mines, tearing rabidly at foes who approach.
Seems like this inventive new combat would make for some rollicking death-matches, right? Sadly, nope. “There won’t be any multiplayer in this one,” says Lanning. “Once we establish this new genre, we’ll take that chemistry and head into the next one… this could be the birth of a new franchise.”