The re-emergence of Oddworld continues with its most ambitious game yet. Having effectively rebooted the franchise with New ‘n’ Tasty back in 2014, it’s taken seven years for the next big Oddworld game to arrive and Soulstorm does not disappoint. It may have started out life as a pseudo-remake of the PS1-era Abe’s Exoddus, but in reality this is the most dramatic transformation for the series since Stranger’s Wrath. It’s a systems-driven adventure that takes advantage of modern physics and materials systems to deliver unique ideas while staying true to the Oddworld ethos.
It’s also a showcase for the Unity Engine. This powerful tool has enabled many creators to deliver remarkable games but with the latest rendering techniques made possible by the engine and a focus on physics and AI, it offers something quite unlike any other Unity-based game we’ve played. But let’s be clear: Soulstorm is not a game for everyone. As ambitious and far-reaching as it is in so many respects, there’s still something old-school about it – not least its difficulty level, which can be brutal, just like the older games in the series. But for my money, it’s fresh and different and while the muted aesthetic has caused issues for some, dig deeper into the game and you’ll find a truly beautiful experience, albeit one that’s best played at 60fps on PS5 and PC.
At its core, Soulstorm is still the same kind of side-scrolling platformer as the first two franchise entries on PS1 and of course, New ‘n’ Tasty on the last-gen machines. You run, jump, climb ledges and lead Mudokons to freedom – but there’s much more to the game now. What the team has delivered is something I love in video games: a true systems-driven playground. Each stage offers an increasingly complex series of challenges to conquer while your available toolset slowly fills out.