March 30, 2023

In the eyes of some, video games are mindless diversions at best.

This, of course, is BS. And while the question of whether games are art is painfully tiresome today, few even thought to bring it up in the PS1 era. But even then, there were games whose very existence was such a resounding “Yes!” It even makes them feel silly to ask the question.

“It’s Crack Farm”

Although its setting is pure fantasy, the world Aber’s Odyssey Just one color coat away from our own. The junk-food factory Rapture Farms, where the game begins, is like a giant oil refinery: beneath the smokestack is a mass of steel pipes perpetually belching smoke. It’s run by a gang of Gluckons, cigar-chomping executives straight out of a political cartoon.

Our protagonist is Abe, a Mudokon who works at Rupture Farms with seemingly all of his species. As he explains the intro cutscene Aber’s Odyssey, he’s actually a slave like the rest of the “workers” there, but given the blurred line between labor and slavery, there’s a hint of pride as he explains that he was once an employee of the year. Abe even thinks about the deliciousness of his favorite Rapture Farm snack products, even though they are made using endangered species from his planet. There is a touch of sadness in his voice as he mourns the closing Mitch Munchies, not because the Mitches were hunted to extinction, but because he misses his much-loved Munchies.

Introduction Aber’s Odyssey Sets the tone for terrifying adventures to come.

Abe is the perfect audience—stuck in a post-capitalist dystopia. He knows he has a terrible job. He knows his masters are destroying the very planet he stands on. But he still doesn’t know if there’s anything he can do about it, so he just enjoys what he can. Then he discovered a new Rapture Farms product called Mudokon Pops. Its main ingredient? You realize it. The entire species of Ab. (“It was ours!”).

when it Aber’s Odyssey The controls are handed over to you, and your first task is to escape the crack farm with your life. During the game, you and Abe discover that some Mudokons have escaped the clutches of Rapture Farm in order to keep their culture alive. As it turns out, the creatures currently being turned into snack cakes have a deeper connection to the Mudokons than Abe imagined, and they could always be the key to dismantling the oligarchy.

throwing stones

Oddworld came to life in the late 90s at a time when critiques of consumerism and capitalism were making their way into mainstream media.

fight club And Office space Released after two years Aber’s Odyssey. so it was the uterus, which took the same direction of turning the real-world horrors of capitalism into sci-fi villains, so even people unaccustomed to its message could get on board. even way the uterus The “real world” of the nightmare is depicted as the smoke-belching metal hellscape of Rapture Farm.

In that era, the revolution was just coming to video games. when Final Fantasy VII Let us play as a group of anti-capitalist eco-terrorists and Fallout Embodying a large-scale social critique, 1997’s biggest headlines were mostly cheesy escapist fare. Super Mario 64. The idea of ​​a mainstream video game with a political perspective was something most players weren’t ready to take seriously. However, FF7, FalloutAnd Aber’s Odyssey According to it, was among the best-reviewed games of the year Metacritic.

Consider the whole matter in detail

Its powerful, devastating narrative Aber’s Odyssey That was partly responsible for the accolades, but not the only reason it stood out. Critics at the time were impressed by its graphics and art style, which despite its age remains a creative achievement today. Similarly, its gameplay feels clunky by today’s standards but remains as interesting as it is unique.

Oddworld’s environmental message stood out in 1997, and it’s still significant.A resident of Oddworld

In 1997, most platformers were side-scrollers, allowing you to move across levels as one continuous screen. SUPER MARIO BROS. on the contrary, Aber’s Odyssey It’s a single-screen platformer, where each screen is like its own mini level that must be beaten before moving on to the next one.

Very first screen Aber’s Odyssey There’s a secret: your POV is at a certain angle and distance, and from your perspective, some machinery blocks a portion of the ground from view. If you stop right at its edge and lean down just as Abe disappears, you’ll discover a drop in a hidden part of the level that has its own puzzle to solve. How do you know it’s on the first run through the game? You don’t. Only by scrubbing each screen for such details can you be sure you’re seeing 100 percent Aber’s Odyssey.

Finding these secrets isn’t just about being a perfectionist. The story is Aber’s Odyssey Abe has taken down Rapture Farms, but your real goal is to save the rest of the Mudokons. While you run and jump through the factory’s OSHA-violating meat grinders and laser grids, Mudokon slaves go to work. Armed guards prevent their escape, but you can free them! And only if you save at least half will Abe win outright in the final cutscene. It’s a gameplay concept that encourages exploration, but it’s also a core theme Aber’s Odyssey: You can fight the guy all you want, but solidarity with your colleagues can truly defeat him.

Realer than real

when Aber’s Odyssey Riding the rising tide of consumerist criticism, it was also part of a wave of relatively advanced AI in games. Some games were and are content to give NPCs specific patterns to follow, but by the late 90s games were completely focused on creating more realistic AI, such as virtual pet sims. organism. Oddworld games have used AI to make their worlds feel more alive and create a stronger bond between you and the onscreen characters.

To guide your fellow Mudokons to safety, you must call out to them and shout “Follow me!” or “Wait!” with different phrases mapped to different buttons. There was even an order to party, which only served to make Abe and the other Mudokons laugh. The developer Oddworld Residents called this system Gamespeak, and while it was pretty simple, it was incredibly effective.

Oddworld is still around, but magic Aber’s Odyssey Hard to recover.A resident of Oddworld

Admittedly, I was 10 at the time, but I was elated every time I freed a Mudokon and felt my stomach drop every time I inadvertently led one to their doom. That moment I finally beat Aber’s Odyssey Freeing all 99 Mudokons (the dutiful child that I was) is forever etched in my memory, more so than most events in my actual human life.

The Oddworld series was envisioned as a five-part story, which doesn’t seem likely to happen now. While the games have remained solid, the sequels haven’t captured the same right-time-right-place magic. Aber’s Odyssey.

My 10-year-old self would be crushed to learn that Abe’s adventures didn’t go on forever and that Oddworld didn’t become the most popular series in the world. Maybe it’s better that way, too Aber’s Odyssey A single masterpiece remains rather than his vision ground up and extruded like many poor Meeches. I’ll be forever grateful, however, to the first video game for teaching me that the medium — and the world — can be so much better, but only if we try.

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