Abe returned to the spotlight in 2014 with Oddworld: New ‘n Tasty, beginning the series’ journey of retelling and reimagining the story of its original four releases, and though it’s been a while, that’s going to resume soon with Oddworld: Soulstorm. Billed as an ambitious cinematic platformer, Soulstorm has been making some pretty interesting promises since it was first announced roughly five years ago, and soon, we’ll find out whether it’ll be able to live up to that hype. And with the game’s launch right around the corner, in this feature, we’re going to talk about some key details that you should know about it.
Oddworld: Soulstorm will pick up where New ‘n Tasty left things, with Abe having inadvertently sparked a revolution. The reluctant protagonist will return to the limelight once more, and must now lead a fight for societal change, as he looks to free the Mudokons from slave labour and oppression. With the fate of the entire species resting on Abe’s shoulders, Soulstorm certainly seems to be promising a dramatic, high-stakes story.
Oddworld: Soulstorm is, of course, a retelling of the story told in 1998’s Abe’s Exoddus, but while New ‘n Tasty was a pretty faithful remake of Abe’s Oddysee, Soulstorm is being billed as a much more radical reinvention. According to the developers, this is the game that Abe’s Exoddus was supposed to be all those years ago, and though it will follow roughly the same story beats, it’s going to greatly expand upon them with new scenarios, altered scenes and plotlines, new twists on old beats, and much more.
Soulstorm’s nature as a reimagining of the game it’s based on is going to shine through in more ways than one, including the locations that you’ll be visiting throughout the game. Many locations from Abe’s Exoddus will, of course, be returning in the game, but according to the developers, they’re going to be heavily reimagined with new looks and aesthetics. In addition to that, you can also expect older areas to be expanded, as well as completely new areas and locations that weren’t present in Abe’s Exoddus.
Similarly, character designs in Oddworld: Soulstorm have also been redone from scratch, and will sport new looks that will differ from their original counterparts noticeably. According to the developers, designs for various key characters and species to be featured in Soulstorm were reimagined completely, and while fans of the series will, of course, still spot more than a few visual features that will make them instantly recognizable, additional details and flourishes will supposedly help them stand out more, bringing them more in line with the visual makeover the series has received.
Oddworld: Soulstorm, like New ‘n Tasty and Abe’s Exoddus itself, will be a sidescrolling platformer, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a strictly 2D game. Developers Oddworld Inhabitants have described it as a 2.9D experience, which means that in spite of its sidescrolling nature, the environments of the game will still have 3D depth and multiple layers for players to traverse and explore. The Z axis is going to figure into gameplay in everything from traps and hazards to combat, platforming, and more.
STEALTH, PLATFORMING, AND PUZZLES
One of the more interesting elements of Oddworld: Soulstorm is that it seems to be offering quite a bit of variety in gameplay. Platforming is, of course, going to be central to the experience, but according to the developers, puzzles, combat, and stealth are also going to be important parts of the experience. While some areas will be focused on taking a stealthy approach while solving puzzles, others will be more intense, and feature action-oriented combat and platforming sequences.
Abe’s ability to possess his foes will, of course, be making a return in Oddworld: Soulstorm. From being able to take control of enemies and using them to your advantage against other foes to using Abe’s possession powers to open up locks and gain access to restricted or hidden areas, it seems like there’s going to be plenty of possible applications for this. Meanwhile, interestingly enough, possession orbs have also been reworked so that the more followers Abe has, the more Chi he amasses.
Oddworld: Soulstorm is also going to feature scavenging and economy mechanics. Abe will be able to look for resources in multiple ways, including scavenging enemies, looking for resources in the environment itself, and opening up chests and foot lockers. Resources can then be used to purchase items at vending machines that players will be able to make use of in various situations, from combat to platforming. How extensive and deep this system will be remains to be seen, but it certainly promises to add another layer to the experience.
Crafting is also going to have an important role to play in Oddworld: Soulstorm. Using the resources Abe finds in the environments and the items he acquires from vending machines, he’ll be able to craft makeshift items and weapons, like molotov cocktails, or other items that can be used for various purposes. Meanwhile, players will also be able to use the crafting system to upgrade and customize various weapons, though again, exactly how in-depth this particular aspect of the crafting mechanics is going to be remains to be seen.
The quarma system is something that Oddworld fans will be very familiar with, and it’s going to be a crucial mechanic in Soulstorm. Your actions while playing the game will affect a global quarma meter, which, in turn, will affect how the story plays out, and how it ends. Saving Mudokons or allowing them to die, killing sligs or merely knocking them out, or even killing enemy in self-defence versus killing an enemy that might not have been posing much of a threat to you- various gameplay choices will force players to think about their actions.
3D AUDIO SUPPORT
Oddworld: Soulstorm is being positioned as a major visual and technical leap for the franchise, and though the game will be a cross-gen release, on the PS5, it will be leveraging many of the more powerful capabilities of the newer hardware. 3D audio, for instance, is going to be supported thanks to the PS5’s Tempest engine. The specifics of exactly what shape this will take in the game haven’t been shared by the developers, but according to creative director Lorne Lanning, it “puts you in the middle of the action, as if you are right next to Abe helping him and his fellow Mudokons escape.”
Of course, Oddworld: Soulstorm will also feature support for the DualSense’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. When utilized properly, adaptive triggers can contribute significantly to a game’s immersion factor, and though we won’t truly know how well Soulstorm uses this feature, its developers are making interesting promises. Says Lanning, “The DualSense controller allows you to experience the palpitations of Abe’s heart as he tries to save his followers in the face of overwhelming forces armed with superior fire power. As Abe struggles, the ingenious adaptive triggers offer resistance, making the struggle feel more real.”
Sony have recently started using PlayStation Plus as much more than just a rolling repository of older releases, and as the recently released Destruction AllStars has proven, the subscription service is a great way to launch games as well. Oddworld: Soulstorm is going to be following in those footsteps, and it’s been confirmed that the game will be available to all PS Plus subscribers on PS4 and PS5 throughout the month of April.
Of course, if you’re not a PS Plus subscriber, or if you plan on playing the game on PC, you will obviously still have the option of purchasing the game- and there’s some happy news here as well. Oddworld: Soulstorm will be sold at a price of $50, instead of the usual $60- or even the $70 we now see so many games being sold at. Even if you decide to jump in on the game after its PS Plus free period has ended, you at least won’t have to shell out as much cash as you ordinarily would on game purchases.