Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD Review (PS Vita)
When it comes to approaching remakes, re-releases or re-something-or-others, there are two sides of the coin. They can either serve as a stroll down memory lane or a chance to get your hands on a title that passed you by. In regards to Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD, I firmly resided in the latter camp. One way or another, I missed this gem the first time around and I’m truly grateful to have been giving this second chance. Munch’s Oddysee isn’t perfect but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Munch’s Oddysee takes place after Abe’s Exoddus and begins with Munch – an amphibian creature known as a Gabbit – as he is captured by the evildoers over at Vykkers Labs. Meanwhile, the Almighty Raisin charges Abe with finding and rescuing the imprisoned Gabbit as well as recovering stockpiled eggs of his people to prevent a whole new generation being born into slavery.
The crux of this Oddworld instalment, despite transitioning from 2D to 3D, is still puzzling and platforming. This time, though, control jumps between two playable protagonists – Abe and Munch. Each character has their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities but the core gameplay is much the same regardless of which creature you’re in charge of. Both characters recruit NPCs to help them interact with the world in different ways, defeat enemies and solve puzzles.
Gameplay-wise, Munch’s Oddysee is very much a product of its time. The early 00s were still a transitional period for the games industry with the leap from 2D to 3D providing some challenges for developers and these challenges are evident here. Munch’s Oddysee fails to deliver an accurate platforming experience and jumps can be hard to judge or time. In more open levels, this is merely a bit of a nuisance but when you’re trying to navigate poor Munch through a sewer of mines, your deaths can feel cheap and unjust. Fortunately, checkpoints are frequent and the punishment for death is rarely too steep.
Equally frustrating and indicative of the time period is the camera which tends to have a mind of its own despite the game claiming it can controlled with the right stick. Sometimes you just can’t get the camera to sit behind Abe or Munch and you end up having to take a leap of faith with varying, unpredictable results.
The Oddworld series’ greatest attribute has always been it’s truly bizarre style, personality and sense of humour; it’s a freak show in a good way. Oddworld’s inhabitants – from Mudokens to Vykkers – are either disgusting, adorable or a strange combination of the two and the game’s twisted brand of comedy is a constant delight. And no matter how juvenile it may be, the fact that there is a designated button for farting is just the best thing ever. Oddworld, itself, is what keeps Munch’s Oddysee interesting.
This odd world (see what I did there?) also goes a long way to covering up the vaguely repetitive nature of the game. You’ll spend a lot of time solving the same kind of puzzles in different areas but location variety and an omnipresent personality keeps things feeling fresh even when they’re not.
Despite its shortcomings in regards to controls and camera, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is worth every minute of frustration. The unconditional originality of the universe created here makes for one of the most enjoyably unique experiences that gaming has ever seen. So no matter which side of the coin you’re coming from, Oddworld is worth returning to or visiting for the very first time.
4 farts out of 5.