March 24, 2023

To some, video games are, at best, mindless pastimes.

This is of course BS. While the question of whether a game is art is extremely tiresome today, few thought of asking it back in the PS1 era. But even so, some games exist with such an emphasis on “yes!” they seem silly to even ask that question.

“It’s Rupture Farm”

Although its setting is pure fantasy, its world Abe’s Odyssey Just a layer of paint away from us. Rupture Farms, the junk food factory at the start of the game, resembles a giant oil refinery: a pile of steel pipes twists under the chimney, constantly spewing smoke. It’s run by a group of Glukkons, executives who smoke cigars straight out of a corny political cartoon.

Our hero is Abe, a Mudokon who works at Rupture Farms and seems to work with his entire species.As he explained in the intro cutscene Abe’s Odyssey, he was actually a slave like the other “workers” out there, but given the blurred line between labor and slavery, there was a tinge of pride when he explained that he was once employee of the year. Abe is even thoughtful about the deliciousness of his favorite Rupture Farms snack products, even though they’re made using endangered species on his planet. There was a hint of sadness in his voice as he mourned the discontinued Mickey snack, not because Mickey was hunted to extinction, but because he missed his favorite snack.

introduced to Abe’s Odyssey Set the tone for the grim adventure to come.

Abe is the perfect audience stand-in for a post-capitalist dystopia. He knows his job sucks. He knew his boss was destroying his planet. But he doesn’t yet know if there’s anything he can do, so he’s just enjoying the very little he can. Then he discovered the name of a new Rupture Farms product called Mudokon Pops. Its key ingredient? you guessed right. Abe’s entire species. (“It’s us!”).

that time Abe’s Odyssey Handing the control over to you, your first job is to use your life to escape Rupture Farm. During the game, you and Abe discover that some Mudokons have escaped the clutches of Rupture Farms to keep their culture alive. As it turns out, the animals that are currently being turned into dessert cakes have deeper ties to the Mudokons than Abe thought, and they could be the key to dismantling the oligarchy once and for all.

throw stones

Oddworld began to emerge in the late 1990s when criticism of consumerism and capitalism entered the mainstream media.

boxing Club and Office Space Released after two years Abe’s Odyssey. is also like this matrix, which takes the same direction of turning real-world capitalist horrors into sci-fi villains, so even people who don’t obey its message might get involved.even the way matrix Depicts a nightmarish “real world” that closely resembles the smoky, metallic hellscape of Rupture Farms.

In that era, however, the revolution was only just coming to video games.although final fantasy VII Let’s play a bunch of anti-capitalist eco-terrorists, fall out Embodying mass social critique, the biggest titles of 1997 were mostly delightful escapist fare like super mario 64. Most gamers aren’t ready to take seriously the idea of ​​mainstream video games with political views. Despite that, FF7, fall outand Abe’s Odyssey Rated as one of the top rated games of the year metacriticism.

look carefully

Strong, subversive narrative Abe’s Odyssey Partly responsible for this compliment, but that’s not the only reason it stands out. Critics of the time were attracted by its graphics and artistic style, which remains a creative achievement today even as they age. Again, its gameplay feels clunky by today’s standards, but it’s still as engaging as unique.

Oddworld’s environmental message came to the fore in 1997 and is still compelling today.inhabitants of strange worlds

In 1997, most platformers were side-scrolling, allowing you to super mario bros In contrast, Abe’s Odyssey is a single-screen platformer where each screen is like its own mini-level that needs to be defeated before moving on to the next screen.

first screen Abe’s Odyssey Contains a secret: your POV maintains a fixed angle and distance, and there are some machines blocking part of the ground from your point of view. If you stop at the edge of Abe and crouch as it disappears from view, you’ll find a hidden part of the level that descends and has its own puzzle to solve. How do you know it’s there on the first run of the game? You will not. Only by searching for details like this on every screen can you be 100% sure what you’re seeing Abe’s Odyssey.

Finding these secrets isn’t just about being a perfectionist.s story Abe’s Odyssey It’s Abe who takes the Rupture Farms, but your real goal is to save the rest of the Mudokons. Mudokon slaves are still at work as you run and jump through the factory’s OSHA-violating meat grinders and laser grids. Armed guards stop them from escaping, but you can rescue them! Only if you save at least half will Abe win outright in the ending cutscene.It’s a gameplay that encourages exploration, but it’s also a key theme of the game Abe’s Odyssey: You can fight whatever you want, but only by uniting your colleagues can you really beat him.

more real than real

although Abe’s Odyssey It’s also part of a relatively advanced wave of artificial intelligence in gaming, riding a surge of consumerist criticism.Some games were and are content to have fixed patterns for NPCs to follow, but games in the late 90s were entirely focused on building more realistic AI, like virtual pet simulations biology. Oddworld games use AI to make their world feel more alive and create a stronger connection between you and the characters on the screen.

To guide your fellow Mudokons to safety, you need to call them and guide them to either “Follow me!” or “Wait!” Different phrases map to different buttons. There’s even an order to fart, which just makes Abe and the other Mudokons laugh. Developer Oddworld Inhabitants calls this system Gamespeak, and while it’s simple, it’s surprisingly effective.

Oddworld still exists, but its magic Abe’s Odyssey It’s hard to get it back.inhabitants of strange worlds

Granted, I was an impressionable 10 year old at the time, but every time I unleashed a Mudokon I was so happy, and every time I inadvertently led a Mudokon to their doom, I felt my stomach sag.The moment I finally won Abe’s Odyssey After the release of all 99 Mudokons (I used to be a conscientious kid), I will forever remember it more deeply than most events in my actual human life.

The Oddworld series was envisioned as a five-part saga, which now seems extremely unlikely to happen.While the game remains stable, the sequel doesn’t capture the same magic of being in the right place at the right time Abe’s Odyssey.

When I was 10 years old to learn that Abe’s adventures didn’t go on forever and that Oddworld didn’t become the most popular series in the world, I’d be crushed.Maybe this is better, with Abe’s Odyssey Keep it a unique masterpiece instead of grinding and squeezing its vision like so many poor Mickeys. However, I will always be grateful for the first video game, which taught me that the medium – and the world – can be better, but only if we try.

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