Of equal power are the sound effects and musical score. Abe's Oddysey boastssome of the most inventive and realistic sounds ever. Period. Each creature'sgrunt, each squishy splatter, and each one of Abe's good-natured mumblings increases the feel of a true virtual world to explore. All the enemies havetheir own particular voices or phrases. Every action, even the most subtle, has a unique and befitting noise to accompany it. When this auditoryexcellence is combined with the spectacular graphics, the player is left with a warm feeling of having truly experienced the game rather than controlling it remotely, as a puppeteer.
Abe is an agile little freak, and the key to survival in the Oddworld'senvirons lies in mastery of movement. While the controls are initially a touch unfamiliar, they become extremely effective through gameplay-engineeredpractice. The tutorial for the command interface is actuallyworked into the first few levels, through LED billboards and chant-activatedsparkling clues.
Our protagonist's capabilities are varied and powerful. Abe is a gifted lil' Mudokon, and he is able to jump, roll, climb, run, and messaround with objects. Sound thrilling? No? Well, it shouldn't yet. Abe isalso a sort of Messiah among his people, and he can chant mystic hymnsto manipulate his surroundings. Through this echoing call, he can possessthe bodies of his pursuers, and utilize them in his quest. In the courseof his Oddysey, he learns of his own greater abilities, from a Mudokon tribal shaman known only as Bigface. Abe is not a fighter, but by carefullyexercising his newfound powers, he can evade, deceive, or control any opponent who lopes his way.
Or, if none of that works, he can talk to them. Abe's speech capabilities arerudimentary, but they're also both useful and amusing. One of the primary goals of the game is to rescue your Mudokon kin from the clutches of Rupture Farms. Through a cute combination of verbal commands and banter, Abe can liberate his entire race, ensuring a special finale at the game's completion.
Oddworld is a dangerous, highly carnivorous place. Enemies range from cybernetic slugs, armed to the non-existent teeth, to leaping pack-predators somewhere between a spider and a rabbit. Each and every one of them caneliminate Abe with a single flick of the appropriate mandible. Ingenuityis vital, as is patience. The game's only major weakness lies in its oftenenraging difficulty, and then the subsequent repetition of all challengesleading up to Abe's ninety-thousandth horrible demise.
I have no problem whatsoever with a good, tough game. My irritation resultsfrom being forced by the engine to learn only by dying. Oddworld houses a surprisingly large number of inevitably fatal hazards which the player couldnot possibly avoid without prior knowledge. The game designers tastefullyintegrated Abe's immortal status into the actual storyline, but even withunlimited lives, it can be exceedingly frustrating to repeat the same lengthygame sequence a trillion times because of a single mistake the player madeat the end of the challenge. In that vein, perhaps an in-game save would havebeen helpful.
But this is the game's single flaw, and it cannot mar the overall superiorityof this title. Abe's Oddysey will become your own, and it will be asimultaneously challenging and enjoyable ride. If you could speak with Abeabout your newfound quest, and you will, he'd say, "Follow me," in possiblythe cutest accent in the unknown universe. I advise you to do so.