Oddworld Inhabitants' fourth and most recent game is back yet again so boot up your Switch and don't be a Stranger.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath originally released for Xbox back in 2005 and has since seen an HD remaster for PlayStation 3 and Vita. That remaster is now available for Switch which is convenient because you can seamlessly play it portably and on the big screen. Anyway, back when it first released, Stranger's Wrath received critical acclaim primarily due to its innovative gameplay which is a dynamic blend of various elements. Namely, you perform 3D platforming while stealthily staying out of enemies' sights then transition to a first-person perspective to shoot critters which have clever uses. For example, you can shoot a bunch of Fuzzles on the ground which act as mines or wrap foes up in cobwebs with Bolamites. The combinations of what you can do with this array of ammo is impressive to say the least.
The distinct blend of gameplay elements culminates in the bounty hunter theme. Basically, you play as the Stranger who's out to capture nogoodniks dead or alive in order to claim the sweet bounties for his hard work. What this means in-game is that you can either kill adversaries or incapacitate them. No matter what you do, you'll then suck them up like you're some sort of Ghostbuster in order to receive your reward when you get back to town. Let me tell you; there's nothing more satisfying than luring enemies out from a pack one by one only to beat on them until they're knocked out then suck 'em up. Thankfully, the campaign is lengthy and you'll carry out a memorable array of missions throughout which usually end in a challenging boss fight with some sort of goofy outlaw.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD looks decent on Switch in that it's easy to play and it performs quite well in handheld mode. However, the visuals generally haven't aged well. To be clear, the HD remaster released back in 2011 and this Switch version is basically a port of it. It was quite off-putting to take in stretched-out textures, muddy environments, and clearly polygonal models as I was hoping this Switch release would have been yet another step up graphically but it isn't. On the plus side, the game world is indeed an odd one to such an extent that it's endearing how much attention to detail the developers originally poured into it. For example, the character animations are lively and you'll witness folks doing some truly weird things which come to life even more with the silly voice cast.
Finally, allow me to discuss some of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD's downsides. For starters, the controls work well but they are stiff and very reminiscent of mid-'00s platformers. As a result, they take some getting used to but once you do, you'll find yourself platforming, sneaking, and shooting with minimal effort. Last but certainly not least, many of the missions feel too similar to each other. Although they are mostly memorable and enjoyable, thinning out herds of foes only to take on a boss that crazily chases you around while relentlessly shooting at you becomes a somewhat repetitive loop after a while. That being said, this formula makes unique scenarios shine even more. Overall, it certainly never becomes boring but at the same time, it's hard not to want even more stand-out moments.
If this will be your first time playing Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath then you'll definitely have a fantastic time with its original gameplay formula and quirky Western world. However, there's no reason to double dip if you already own it on another console.
- + Solid blend of stealth, third-person platforming, and unique first-person shooting
- + Endearingly strange game world
- + Lengthy campaign with memorable missions
- - Controls are rather stiff and take quite a while to get used to
- - Visuals haven't held up well
- - Many missions are too similar