Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath launches for Nintendo Switch today. I was lucky enough to be able to play the game early, and in my time with it I’ve come up with five things that I really loved about it, as well as two things that I definitely did not.
1 – The World
The world of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is completely different to the other Oddworld games. It’s filled with backwater towns that are all situated along a river, which seems to be the only way of transporting stuff between them. it really does give the game a feeling being at the point in time when technology was just starting to come into play in the 1900’s in the real world. You can sort of see this in the sewer systems and certain other areas, but really the world is just open swamplands, desert areas, farmlands, and everything else that makes the wild west so appealing.
I think that this adds to the game, giving it its own identity that is distinct and separate from the other Oddworld games. The characters and certain other parts of the game bring it back around to being an Oddworld game, but the world by itself is just a real highlight
2- Bounty Hunting
In Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath you play as a bounty hunter called The Stranger. Each bounty is a notorious outlaw from the surrounding area, and it’s down to you to go out and take them down. Every outlaw boss has a group of followers that you need to work your way through before you find them, but once you do you’re in for a treat.
Every outlaw boss has a unique feel to them and visual style, both of which play into the boss fights. One outlaw fights you from a high point in a graveyard, and you need to stun them multiple times before they eventually fall down to your level, when you and nab them for the reward. Another outlaw jumps into a cage on tracks, and you need to redirect the cart down to your level so that you can fight them, all while being shot at by them and their followers. One final example is an armoured outlaw who can’t be hit from the front, and is too fast to tackle by yourself. The arena needs to be used to find a way to attack them from behind, and it’s really satisfying when you do.
3 – Crossbow
The Crossbow is the weapon The Stranger uses. It’s got two barrels, and you fill it with live ammo. Yes, live ammo. That’s why I loved it so much, it adds a level of personality that you just don’t see in games that launch today. What’s even more impressive is that the ammo will move around and make faces at you while you’re walking around with it loaded in the crossbow. I remembered this feature from the original Xbox release in 2005, but seeing it this week on the Nintendo Switch impressed me all over again.
4 – Story
It takes a while to get going, but once the story hits the middle it really starts to grip you. The Stranger is tackling all of these bounties because he needs to be able to pay for a mysterious operation, one that isn’t revealed until the endgame. The twists keep the game intriguing, and overall it’s the only reason that this fits into the Oddworld universe.
5 – Combat
This game has a default third person camera, but you switch to first person to shoot, stun, and kill enemies. That might sound clunky, but it just about works, at least in the game. The shooting is really satisfying, and it’s very fair. Considering that there are so many different enemy types, and such a variety in the ammo you can use, I expected the shooting to be really precise and annoying, filled with near misses. Thankfully the shooting is totally on point, and I never felt like a shot was missed because of the game, it was always because of me.
There were a couple of things I didn’t like though.
1 -Silly and Obtuse
There are parts of the game’s story that are obtuse, deliberately so. They require you to talk to specific people, which is fine, but the game does a really bad job of telling you who, and where they are. Some NPCs are talked about in the Bounty Store, but others aren’t. An actual feature in the game is a button that makes The Stranger talk, and that’s usually where you find out who to speak to. I think this needs fixing, and those people making more obvious.
I also have a big problem with the way The Stranger falls. There are points in the game where deliberate falls are put in by the developers, but The Stranger falls flat on his face every time. This doesn’t make you loose health, but it does look stupid, and removes any tension from that moment. I hate it, please fix it.
2 – Controls
While most of the game’s controls have ported really well to Nintendo Switch, I didn’t get on with the switching between third and first person cameras. To do this you have to click the left joystick, and in the moment it’s really hard to pull off. It feels petty to point this out, but it really is a barrier to playing when you’re jumping in and out of the game and you need to figure out the camera switch all over again.
So there you have it. Overall I really enjoyed this game. Yes, there are a couple of things I didn’t like about it, but they’re nothing compared to all of the things I love about it. I can’t recommend this game enough, and if you’ve never tried it before then this is a great opportunity to. Don’t let the stupid falling and that one control put you off, I promise that it’s a good game really.