Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD

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Well, isn’t this strange? I rolled the dice for this game about a week ago, and was just about to fire it up when Nintendo’s latest Direct, focusing on indie devs, started streaming. I sure was mighty spooked when the game I had just put off playing was announced during that selfsame Direct, I tell you h’wat.

Stranger’s Wrath is set in a different part of the Oddworld universe to previously-binned Munch’s Oddysee– a Wild West-inspired desert wasteland full o’ varmints what need haulin’ in. Enter, The Stranger- sadly not the same The Stranger from Bastion- whose bounty-huntin’ ways are gonna clean up this town.

Also much like Munch, Stranger seems to be a victim of its era. 3D engines were becoming more advanced and devs were increasingly experimental in the ways they presented their games- it was a real Wild West of ideas, if you like. Stranger here decided to mash up FPS and 3rd person adventuring with stealth action, and didn’t quite manage to get any of those parts right.

The ideas are very interesting, and I appluad trying something new. Stranger uses live ammunition, here defined as ammunition that is alive. Hunting bugs and other critters to use as ammo adds a prototypical survival aspect to the game, requiring the player to scrounge around in the dirt to find the right bugs to clear the next compound.

Stranger can also fight in the third person, with a quick punch attack and a slow headbutt attack to knock enemies out- at which point he captures them dead or alive to collect their bounty.

Trouble is- Stranger is very fragile, and although there is ostensibly a stealth element involved, it’s not really implemented well. You can only hide in tall grass, with walls not providing any visibility cover, and enemies are so densely packed in some areas that the stealth element doesn’t come into play at all, playing more like a typical FPS… except you can’t take many hits and capturing enemies takes a long time.

Fin or Bin:

UIltimately it just doesn’t feel very cohesive, interesting though its ideas are, and I wasn’t having a lot of fun- a crime carrying a sentence of immediate Binning. What tore it for me was actually the amount of times control was taken from me for minor cutscenes which, in moder games, would just play out ‘live’. Walk along a bridge- cutscene starts bridge collapses- okay, start playing again. The screenshot for this post is from one of the most egregious of these, with two crims arguing over which button is the correct one to set an explosive, before hilariously pressing the wrong one- an amusing moment, but nothing actually changes; the explosion doesn’t open up a new area or assist in a battle, control was taken from me solely for the purpose of a throwaway gag.

(Steam, and apparently soon on Switch!)

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