To say that the Oddworld series is odd is an understatement. Emerging in the '90s, Oddworld experienced enough success to spawn a tentative trilogy and a spin-off title which is not bad. Though it was ported to consoles at the time, Oddworld played best on PC due to its design. It’s a puzzle platformer with sticky movement and a protagonist as heroic as a toad with a wiffle bat taped to it. However, with the ongoing trend of remaking classic games like Crash and Spyro, Oddworld is seeking to dress up for the modern era. First it was New ‘N’ Tasty, and now Soulstorm joins the remaster effort. If you’re looking to get into the Oddworld universe, a good way to start is by learning some things about the “hero,” Abe.
Who are the Mudokons?
Oddworld is full of different strange creatures and inhabitants, but arguably the most significant are the Mudokons. Despite what Abe and his co-workers may have you believe, the Mudokons are a proud tribal race with a rich culture and history. In the face of an industrial plague that’s spreading over Oddworld, the Mudokons maintain a harmony with nature. They’re traditional and spiritual by nature with access to supernatural abilities. Of course, players see very little of this and come to think of them as the subservient species milling about Rupture Farms. On top of that, Abe isn’t exactly the poster kid for the ideal Mudokon but is willing to make an effort.
Abe is a Cowardly Survivor
Scientists will tell you that fear is a biological response that helps organisms survive. Yet, if fear were a drug, Abe would constantly be on the edge of an overdose. He scares easily, and his only real defense mechanism is to run away. In fact, what starts Abe off on his journey is simply self-preservation. After learning the dark truth behind Rupture Farms, Abe drops everything and makes a break for it in a rather clumsy fashion. Still, Abe’s overwhelming sense of fear has led him across many lands and kept him from dying horribly in many ways. He may be a scaredy cat, but at least he’s one that preserves each of his nine lives.
Abe is Complacent
While not exactly a “yes man," Abe is definitely a guy who just accepts things. The first time he appears, Abe is casually and almost cheerfully buffing the floor in a long hallway. He is aware that he's a slave but doesn’t seem to care, even though he has the capacity to escape. Once the harsh reality of his situation finally kicks his butt, he gets into gear and actually decides to do something. After escaping, the responsibility of saving all the Mudokons from Rupture Farms is thrust upon him. Again, his complacency just causes him to accept his role as the savior with very little struggle. You could argue that he’s a put-upon hero, but that’s hard to do when he just takes whatever he’s given.
Abe is Squishy and Athletic
After controlling heroes like Mario and Sonic, playing as a character with realistic physical limitations throws us for a loop. Abe is anything if not a prisoner to his body but is still capable of quite a bit. He can run at length and outrun if not match the speed of most of his pursuers. His jump height and distance are kind of pathetic, even though he can clear most gaps with it. He also has a surprising amount of upper body strength and grip, being able to grab ledges and hoist himself up with ease. The issue is despite these strengths, Abe is still as harmless as a bunny made of cotton balls. Most major threats can one-shot Abe and those that don’t can quickly whittle him down to nothing. This is a guy who could really benefit from wearing layers.
Abe’s a Guide, not a Leader
A leader is someone who rallies and inspires those around them, while a guide simply leads them around. Even though Abe is the Mudokon “savior,” he never really adopts a leadership role. Before and after he receives the title, Abe goes about making friendly chatter with his fellow Mudokons. After greeting them, he innocently tells them to follow him, which they do unassumingly. Only after Abe takes them to a bird portal do the Mudokons understand exactly what’s happening and enthusiastically jump through. While not as flashy as being a leader, sometimes guides get you where you need to go.
Oddworld is not the easiest place to live, and some parts of it are downright terrifying. As such, you would think that any creature living on it would be tough as nails, but Abe is not. That’s not to say that he’s completely helpless as he proves to be reliable with a strong survival instinct. He may be harmless and goofy, but that just makes him endearing, and he’ll endear you to the adventures you’ll have in Oddworld.