Oddworld's leap to 3D back in 2001 marked a huge change for the series so let's re-play Abe's celebrated debut in the third dimension.
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee released as an original Xbox exclusive back in 2001 and now, you can enjoy a slightly better-looking updated version of it on your Switch. Although I didn't play the original when it came out considering I was a latecomer to the Xbox family, I did play it on PlayStation 3 when it released over a decade later. Now that I played it yet again, I'm happy to say that it has held up for the most part. At its core, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is a 3D puzzle platformer which was not a common genre at the time as most 3D platformers were collect-a-thons that were mostly aimed towards children. Needless to say, solving the clever puzzles and figuring out how to progress made Munch's Oddysee stand out as a fun experience for a more mature audience, especially considering the dark and twisted world that it takes place in. I just wish the graphics were better since everything looks exceptionally dated.
Speaking of which, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee's bizarre setting is another stand-out aspect as its dystopian world along with its weird inhabitants feel like they belong in a Tim Burton film. Just like those movies, there's something strangely compelling about its setting and even though many of the characters are downright ugly, you can't help but root for them as they overcome adversity to hopefully topple their oppressors. The stars of the story are Abe who returns from the previous games and the titular Munch. After playing through their separate segments, you can swap between them which adds a fun layer of comradery to the adventure.
When it comes to gameplay, Abe and Munch play very differently. For starters, Abe can gather a group of his Mudokon chums in order to chant together which opens doors, lift and throw his friends, and possess various creatures. Meanwhile, Munch can swim very well, command armies of Fuzzles to attack guards, and remotely pilot robots known as Snoozers. As a result, the campaign is chock-full of variety which makes playing through each new area consistently feel like you're going on a fun new journey.
With all of that being said, many of Munch's Oddysee's segments become quite tedious after a while. I understand that back in 2001, gamers had more patience than they do now so sections that involve repeating similar tasks over and over again were more forgivable back then. However, playing through such stretches in this day and age frequently made me anxious to progress past them. For example, carefully swimming through mine-filled water is fun at first but after the fifth or so time doing it in a row, you'll likely grow bored. On top of this, there are some needlessly tricky segments such as one part where I thought I was stuck as I had to jump over a wall at a very specific angle and distance in order to clear it. I wish the developers smoothed out parts like this as they surely haven't aged well.
Finally, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD doesn't feature much replay value. The only reason to play through it again comes in the form of the Quarma system which gauges certain factors such as the number of Fuzzles rescued and eventually dictates which ending you'll get upon completing the campaign. It would have been awesome if there were collectibles and such which would have added more substantial replay value. I can't imagine playing this specific game over and over again to simply see its different endings.
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD encapsulates a time in gaming when 3D puzzle platformers were still in their infancy yet its campaign is undeniably fun and full of variety. However, many facets of its adventure simply don't hold up well with today's standards in mind.
- + Solid puzzle platforming gameplay
- + Bizarre and quirky world that's enjoyable to experience
- + Loads of variety throughout
- - Too many tedious segments
- - Graphics don't hold up all that well
- - Could use collectibles to extend replay value