Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Developer: Just Add Water
The more I play of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, the more I get the sense that it's a whole lot better if you're looking at it through nostalgia goggles. After all, I missed the original Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (I was too busy being a Nintendo-only gamer at the time), which means I'm going into this recrafted version without any prior experience with the game. And…well, I can't say I'm a huge fan of it.
Before I say anything else, I should emphasize that I don't think it's a bad game. We're not talking about some RBI Baseball-level atrocity, wherein the corpse of a once-great game has been revived just to be desecrated. No, much like the last few Oddworld remasters, New 'n' Tasty was developed by Just Add Water and published by series creators Oddworld Inhabitants, which means that it was created every bit as lovingly as you'd hope. This is most apparent in its looks, which are utterly fantastic; if you didn't know that it was a recreated game from 20 years ago, you wouldn't be able to guess.
Unfortunately, the same level of care doesn't seem to have been put into the controls. Now, some of this may just be my bitterness talking. Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty is mind-bogglingly hard, even on the easiest difficulty settings, and it challenges you right from the get-go. You'll die frequently and in incredibly gory ways if you're not playing with the utmost care, and I'll freely admit that my style of playing games tends to be a little reckless (to put it mildly).
Having said that, however, the controls don't seem to do you any favours. The formerly-titular Abe is perhaps a little too sensitive, prone to running at full speed into things or off ledges the moment you even nudge a thumbstick — which, obviously, is a pretty big deal in a game that relies heavily on stealth and finesse. Again, I'll admit my lacklustre abilities have at least a little to do with my ineptitude, but at the same time, for such a demanding game, it doesn't seem like much to demand a little help in return.
Then again, maybe that's intentional. Speaking of both the gory deaths and the love that Oddworld/Just Add Water have put into the game, nowhere is this clearer than in the death animations. I lost track of the number of times my head went flying off and my guts were splattered everywhere, but I always noted that said head and guts were way, way more detailed than anything I've seen in most other games. (I should add that this level of detail is also found in the environments and other characters — it's just most noticeable when your on-screen character is being ripped apart by spinning blades.)
Still, lovingly designed or not, it's hard to really get into a game where you die constantly and feel like you've got no chance — which is where the nostalgia goggles come in. I suspect that if I had fond memories of Oddworld: Abe's Odyssee from my childhood, then it would be a lot easier to look past all those deaths and see a game I'd once loved looking fresh and shiny and new (and, perhaps, tasty). As it is, to my more critical/less nostalgic eyes, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty just ends up looking like yet another hard-as-nails platformer without the precise controls to match.