Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee Review
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is a very smart game with great puzzles, yet there's not enough variety in those puzzles to keep it completely entertaining throughout.
Imagine an instance where an indie film is promoted as one of the biggest blockbuster movies of the year. Think about the backlash when the mainstream filmgoing public runs afoul of such elements as untraditional storytelling, plot structure, and dialogue--without being told to expect them. That's what will likely happen with the release of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee for the Xbox. It's the next in a game series that's certainly not for everyone, though it's been heavily positioned as such as of late.
Quick history lesson: First planned for the PlayStation 2, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is the third game in the Oddworld series, but officially the second game in the Oddworld quintology. The first two games appeared on the PlayStation and featured a relatively new game construction of button-activated voice controls--making communication a major part of the game--and a clumsy quasi-reptilian janitor named Abe as their lead character. After happening upon a board meeting where the planet's glukkon overlords were discussing using his race as their new taste sensation, Abe took it upon himself to free his fellow mudokons and shut down the meat-processing factory where they worked and were imprisoned. Later, he went back into glukkon territory to shut down a factory that was making a tasty, addicting drink called Soulstorm Brew out of the bones of his ancestors.
It's heady stuff, and it's not exactly subtle in its attempt to satirize big business and consumer culture (probably to the degree that a Japanese monster movie is social commentary on nuclear weapons and environmental destruction). Things are even more overt in Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, in which you play as a creature named Munch, who's the last breathing member of his race, the gabbits, due to the glukkons' predilection for gabbit caviar. It's up to you to hunt down the last can of caviar, which is going up for auction soon at an exclusive glukkon event.
If Abe seemed an unlikely choice for a hero in the first two Oddworld games, he comes off like Captain America next to Munch. Munch is a huge-headed, small-bodied creature whose single flipper propels him along awkwardly on land (he's provided with a wheelchair to move faster at key points in the game), and he speaks much like how you'd imagine that Abe might after a serious stroke. It's hard not to think of Woody Harrelson's performance in the film The People vs. Larry Flint when playing Munch's Oddysee.
The gameplay in the first two Oddworld games focused heavily on puzzle solving through communication, mind control, and platform jumping, and it's more of the same in Munch's. Those who enjoyed the two previous games will be glad to know that Abe makes a return appearance in this game. In fact, it's probably as much Abe's "oddysee" as it is Munch's, as you flip back and forth between the two characters to solve different puzzles. Abe is very good at working out puzzles that involve running, jumping, and climbing, and Munch is excellent at getting around in the water and can shock enemies with a device that glukkon scientists implanted in his head. Likewise, Abe is able to talk his mudokon brethren into helping him operate complex machinery and, if they're warrior class, attack the slig guards. Similarly, Munch can get the fuzzles--small, furry animals like tribbles from the original Star Trek series, but with teeth--to help fight guards as well.
Many times, the puzzles in a given level will require you to flip between the two main characters several times. (The fuzzles won't listen to Abe because they're afraid of him, while the mudokons think that Munch is funny and don't take him seriously.) For example, you might have Abe mind control a guard using a chant in order to grant Munch access to an area where he can free the fuzzles and have them attack the other guards so that the path is then clear for Abe to get the mudokons to a spot where Munch can pick them up with a crane and drop them to safety.
The difficulty level in Munch's Oddysee is more forgiving than in earlier Oddworld games. You always respawn near where you expired, you can save anywhere, and you can often resurrect some of your followers if they die accidentally by turning in special fruits that you've collected at certain key spots. (These fruits can be used to open chutes and upgrade standard mudokons into warrior mudokons, as well.) This provides you with more freedom to experiment with possible solutions to the puzzles. As before, your many abilities are introduced gradually and well. And, new to the series, the game's analog control is very precise, offering varying degrees of movement. By and large, the gameplay in Munch's Oddysee is very fun, and those who enjoyed Sony's ICO should find plenty to like here, but the game isn't without its share of drawbacks.
- Player Reviews: 50
- Game Universe:
- Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (XBOX, PC, GBA),
- Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus (PC, PS),
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (PC, PS),
- Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (XBOX, PC),
- Oddworld Adventures 2 (GBC),
- Oddworld Adventures (GB),
- Oddworld: The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot (XBOX),
- The Oddboxx (PC),
- Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD (PS3, VITA, PC),
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee - New 'n' Tasty (PC, X360, PS3, VITA)
- Number of Players: