Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD – Review
Follow Genre: Action-adventure
Developer: Just Add Water, Oddworld Inhabitants
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Platforms: Switch, PC, PS3, iOS, Android, PS Vita
Tested on: Switch

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: A solid remaster of a classic game that looks great portable
Bad: The gameplay is a bit outdated. repetitive as well
User Score
5.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is a game that’s already about 15 years old as it was originally released in 2005. Its HD release met the planet Earth around 2010, but as the Switch seems to be the main platform to bring a lot of classic console and PC games around for a new audience, it’s not weird that this classic is one of those revivals as it got a lot of praise during the original release. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to play highly-praised games on the go?

Story

The Oddworld universe is an interesting and original piece of work that all started with the 1997 game, Abe’s Oddysee. Essentially, there are four different stories that are created within this universe, where any other games are simply remakes or remastered, or even ported versions to a different platform that got a release under a different name. Anyway, these four different stories all take place on a planet that’s dubbed ”Oddworld.” This information is good to have, as Stranger’s Wrath barely gives you anything to go on.

As a matter of fact, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath jumps right into the game after an opening video that… well, that actually shows the gameplay as it is but in a more cinematic way. All you get is that your character, named ”Stranger”, is a bounty hunter who likes to hunt these creatures that look like toads or fat catfishes. This is also reflected by the gameplay as there isn’t much being said besides ”go hunt this” and ”thanks for capturing that”. The lack of some immersive web of stories that’s weaving it all together instantly makes the game feel a bit old. Granted, some stuff happens and Stranger’s Wrath has some cool cinematics or in-game cutscenes, but the slow character development and little lore make the overall story feel rather hollow as revisited in 2020.

Graphics

Stranger’s Wrath HD is solid when it comes to playing the game on the Nintendo Switch. Somehow it feels like the graphics pop-out even better than on the other platforms. The cinematics are a joy to watch, and in-game the game feels updated enough to compete with the re-release market and the modern game market alike. Animations are noticeably well done and to be admired in detail, from the timing of Stranger’s movements to the close-ups of creatures (ammo) that you have loaded on your crossbow.

Sound

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath mostly has some amazing music and sounds that are memorable for players who did play the original. The music represents a wasteland, much like the Borderlands series did later on. Everything is highly atmospheric, and sometimes even tense. The main character has a recognizable voice and some one-liners and sounds when i.e. jumping that are also typically found in platformers that have been doing well, or at least well enough to remember those particular sounds. The thing that’s most annoying are the villagers who look like chickens. They all have the same annoying high-pitched transformed voice and little to say.

Gameplay

There’s a lot to be said about Stranger’s Wrath when it comes to gameplay, but it’s all fairly easy to summarize. Oddworld plays like a 3D platformer as well as a shooter, which works surprisingly well and feels original at the same time. Mostly. One of the things that it does do well is that it gives you health and stamina, and you can choose to use the stamina to heal by pressing a button when you are not directly in a fight, or use it to fight. This is something that was ahead of its time and still works well up to today. The main issue with this game, however, is that it gives you both the third-person platforming and the first-person shooting playstyles, but fails to fully intertwine the both in a satisfying way, as well as that it doesn’t go far enough in using either one of these core mechanics.

When playing in third-person, you get to jump and double jump over obstacles, but this barely comes forward as a challenge or something else than just jumping to get over something. Besides that, there are some ropes in levels to go vertical or horizontal but it feels lacking in the same way. You can also run fast while using the third-person camera and do two different attacks on enemies, and it’s rather effective to knock enemies down. In first-person, the game offers you a variety of ammo (bugs) to shoot with, where you can load one on the left and one on the right side of your crossbow. These ammo varieties help you knock down enemies, shoot them till they are dead, trap them, and other things. Whether knocking an enemy down in first-person or third-person, after knocking one down, you can suck up the body to capture him. The game rewards you for collecting enemies that are knocked down or dead, where it gives you a greatly higher reward for those you didn’t kill.

The issue with this is that this works fine for a few enemies that you can mess around with, but when you are up against many enemies there’s no way to properly do anything about it. The game doesn’t seem to think about how a player would handle a certain situation and just says ”here, do something about it”. It rewards you with a lot more for those you capture alive, yet it hints a lot at forcefully killing enemies as capturing an enemy makes you incredibly vulnerable in a big group and probably leads to certain death.

The principle of fighting a few enemies or a lot of them and choosing how to fight each enemy you come across basically makes up for the entire core gameplay by it lacking a proper platforming challenge and such. This means that you will take on a bounty quest to capture or kill an enemy, walk a certain direction from the town you currently reside in, then kill some mobs and fulfill the bounty on the boss monster. This really starts to repeat itself quickly until it feels a bit hollow, especially as you simply go to a different town once you complete one, which starts it all over again. Stranger’s Wrath feels like it has some interesting gameplay to offer that’s still valid now, but overall it’s too outdated and not entertaining enough to be recognized as something more than ”pretty good” or interesting.

Conclusion

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath has been recognized as something very renewing and original back in the day. Part of these innovations still rings true, while others feel outdated. There is some fun to have and the updated graphics are nice as well and the music is still very good,  yet keep in mind that the game is old in its ways and can get repetitive easily.

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Rating: 5.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD - Review, 5.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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