"Odd Bless. Odd Say: Leave Not, The Odd"
Back in those idle days of yore, in a world tragically less Odd than the one we now inhabit, the side-scroller was king. Those were the days before the invention of 3D game accelerators (which have brought us into a new world, ohm... ohm...). Those were the days of happy-go-lucky action jumpers and shooters like Super Mario Brothers and Contra. Those were also the days of inspired puzzle games like Prince of Persia. Soon after came the days of Flashback, possibly the ultimate amalgam of all that was good in both types of side-scroller.
There was a huge gap in time before there was another game that captured the true quality that could be expressed in a brilliant side scroller. None could stand out as true evidence of gaming genius. Then came Oddworld: Abe's Oddessy. At last, we once again had a truly divine side scroller, and the only game since Flashback to have a similar level of quality. Now, one year after the release off Oddyssey, we have Odd to thank for the sequel, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus. Notice that's exODDus, not exODus.
In Exoddus, you reprise your role as Abe, the cheerful, cute, blue-skinned Mudokon. In Oddessy, you destroyed the meat packing plant Rupture Farms, run by the fiendish, armless, lizard-like Glukkons, who were planning on turning Abe and other Mudokon slaves into their next freezer section item. Now the Glukkons have even more serious chutzpah: they are digging up the bones of Mudokons (using blind Mudokon slaves), powderising them, mixing them with electrically extracted Mudokon tears, and selling it all as the tasty, green, and refreshing SoulStorm Brew.
Like Oddessy, the game is narrated by Abe in past tense as a sort of flashback (pun intended). As this is all a memory, you cannot actually die. More simply, you have unlimited lives. Exoddus mostly involves you completing tasks that require perfectly timed acrobatic feats and puzzle solving know-how. You have no gun. You are not Rambo. You are a small, blue, weak, fishy little guy who sounds like he has a cold and wears nothing but a loincloth. However, you can use the surrounding environment to kill, you can occasionally grab grenades (for the purpose of killing), you can expel ultra-explosive farts, and you can possess things. In possessing stuff (including Glukkons, Sligs, Scrabs, Paramites, and your farts), you can make enemies kill a few things and then walk them a dissinto-ray barrier. Mmmm...tortuous.
In addition to wreaking general havoc on the workings of the fiendishly capitalist Glukkon plans, you must rescue your fellow Mudokons and transport them through bird portals to safety. There are a total of 300 Mudokons, 150 of which you must save if you want the game to end happily, without any major head trauma for Abe.
In helping your fellow Mudokons, and in completing many of the game's tasks, you must utilize the clever GameSpeak system. You have to talk to other things in the game. One very appreciated improvement that Exoddus has over Oddessy is that you can now talk to more than one entity at the same time, which cuts down heavily on tedium. In Oddessy, you would sometimes have to go back and forth for interminable amounts of time to get all of your buddies to safety.
Of course, being a savior does require some tasty images. The pretty pictures in Exoddus are indeed very, very pretty. Although the game engine has not been changed at all since Oddessy, the backgrounds are somewhat more intricate and detailed and the sheer artistry with which Oddworld was conceived and realized is stunning. Exoddus reeks of personality and unique style that no other game out there (save for Oddessy) can touch. This also goes for the excellent movies, which seamlessly segue into gameplay.
Gaming is not still-life. In drooling over these lovely works of computer rendering, the ears are well treated to some very atmospheric, well-made sounds, not to mention some moody music perfectly timed and responsive to the onscreen action.
I should mention something about Oddworld, the setting of this game. It is a highly deadly, very moody, and incredibly comic place. Be prepared to laugh you ass off until some little cute critter punctures your brain with one of its adorable spikes.
One of the chief complaints with the original Oddessy was a very restrictive save system. If you died in Oddessy, you would have to trudge through several gamplay screens before again attempting whatever perilous task it was that brought about Abe's temporary demise. In Exoddus, you can now save anywhere, and there is a quicksave feature. This is highly appreciated as Exoddus is a harder game with more challenging puzzles.
Exoddus is an excellent game, but it suffers slightly from one pitfall: there is not very much that is new here. The graphics are very similar, the game engine is unchanged, the gameplay mechanics are largely the same, and most of the sound is taken directly from Oddessy. The improvements in Exoddus make it a much more streamlined, polished gaming experience, but not quite a full sequel in any terms other than plot line.
That aside, Exoddus is a better game overall than Oddessy was, and that makes it very good indeed. As only the second game in a proposed quintology of Oddworld games (the next one being titled Oddworld: Munch's Oddessy) gamers everywhere can enjoy this polished, stylized, highly addictive, unforgettable adventure and look forward to a bright future for the dark, hilarious world of Odd. That said; "WE'RE SCREWED! PANTS, PANTS, I NEED SOME PANTS!"