The delightfully deranged Oddworld games harken back to a more imaginative time. The series is very much a student of the Spectrum and C64 days, where a game’s narrative was absurd, its characters bizarre, and its world weird and wonderful.
Munch’s Oddysey is the third Oddworld game in the classic series, and is full to the brim with strange creatures, mystical destinies, and evil corporations, all set on a peculiar planet experiencing a time similar to our own Industrial Revolution.
Having received an HD polish and re-release for the PS3 back in 2012, Munch is finally hopping on over to PS Vita with all its enhancements intact. However, 12 years after its original release, does Munch’s Oddysee’s special brand of strangeness and 3D platforming still impress?If it aint broke…
For the most part it absolutely does. Exploring Oddworld is just as fascinating and compelling now as it was back in 2002. It astonishingly doesn’t feel antiquated, typically providing large, open levels to explore with only the occasional interior feeling a little on the small side.
Meanwhile, the puzzles are inventive and enjoyable, and the platforming fast and simple. It has its flaws but predominantly it’s excellent.
If you’re coming to the series fresh then a handy recap can be viewed from the main menu that includes a selection of cut scenes from the previous two titles in the series, Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exodus. Otherwise you can jump straight in to Munch’s Oddysee, which picks up from the end of Exodus.
Having been captured by two Vykkers and experimented on at the labs, Munch, as the last living Gabbit, must escape and search for the last tin of Gabbit caviar - Gabbiar - to save the Gabbit race. Meanwhile, Abe is tasked with aiding Munch and saving stockpiled eggs of his own people, the Mudokons, to prevent a new generation being born into slavery.A tale of two heroes
Control can be switched between the two heroes, each with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Munch is a keen swimmer and has a weak but useful attack thanks to an implanted sonar device the Vykkers’ stuck him with. Meanwhile, Abe can possess creatures and have them do his bidding.
Both can also receive aid from their unique followers. Munch can rescue cute and furry looking creatures called Fuzzles who are actually ferocious killing machines in a pack. Abe on the other hand can lead fellow Mudokon around to help with puzzles and combat. How many Fuzzles and Mudokon the pair saves will result in one of two different endings.
Despite the new 3D perspective, Munch’s Oddysee sticks with its 2D predecessor’s experience: using your unique abilities and followers to manipulate the environment and devices in clever and often amusing ways.
Obstacles typically come in the form of enemies, ripe for possessing. After forcing your vessel to flip switches, gun down or otherwise kill their comrades, you’re free to gleefully maim them by jumping into whatever hazard takes your fancy.
Other puzzles encourage you to gather a number of followers to chant and open doors, or aid you in more direct combat with guards and the like, before moving on to the next challenge.Freak show
It’s wonderfully entertaining and this is further complimented by Oddworld’s otherworldly personality. Character designs are superbly original, animations are exaggerated and funny, and the voices are weird, unique, and adorable. The HD enhancements to the audio and visuals help bring the world to life with new clarity.
Disappointingly the lighting isn’t great. Environments have a tendency to look dull due to overly dark areas and a general lack of object luminance.
Additionally, the 3D camera likes to fight, which can put a dampener on the platforming and exploration. And although character movement is swift and accurate a slow turn animation alongside the camera issues can lead to the odd plummet to one’s death. Fortunately the punishment for death is negligible, with frequent checkpoints and any collectables staying collected.
Oddworlds: Munch’s Oddysee is a superb puzzle, platforming, adventure. It can get a little repetitive solving the same kind of puzzles in different areas, but a nice variety of locations and the benefit of a bold and beautifully odd personality, combats the worst of it.
If the camera would do as it was told and had an invert option, as well as the odd addition such as subtitles and better lighting, then you’d be looking at something close to perfection, as it is you’ll have to settle for excellent.