Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.

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    A Killer is had by the Xbox Series X/S RPG Lineup

    With Microsoft acquiring ZeniMax, the legendary RPG teams at Bethesda are on the list of newest additions to the Xbox the household. As a total result, the Xbox brand has just secured some solid RPG experiences for the generation ahead (whether or not Bethesda’s game are ultimately exclusives). But beyond famous brands Fallout and Elder Scrolls even, understand that other exciting RPGs come in the works for the Xbox Series X/S. However when laying everything out, it’s possible for a fan of the RPG genre to obtain excited about the near future.

    When Obsidian Entertainment (another studio previously acquired by Microsoft) revealed Avowed earlier this season, immediately fans likened it to Skyrim because of the combat mechanics and the story’s presentation. The reveal had many considering this title to become a major competition for Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, an undeniable fact that is clearly a little interesting considering Obsidian and Bethesda’s prior history surrounding Fallout: New Vegas, and also the comparisons between Obsidian’s recent title The Outer Worlds and Bethesda’s Fallout series. But there’s enough room in the gaming landscape for multiple open-world fantasy RPGs.

    Now that Microsoft owns Bethesda, it is a warm family reunion with Avowed now released alongside the Elder Scrolls franchise, no more in competition with one another because they are both now beneath the same overseeing umbrella.

    This acquisition does mean that The Elder Scrolls VI could possibly be an Xbox/PC exclusive potentially, though Microsoft may instead desire to make use of the massive playerbase for both Elder Scrolls and Fallout with the addition of multiplatform availability, albeit with a possible timed exclusivity. Ten years ago, I’d have scoffed at this type of notion, but going multiplatform for a franchise which has a long history would coincide with Xbox’s revamped online marketing strategy regarding games as something over hardware ties.

    Pair that with the truth that Microsoft didn’t outright say it had been likely to horde exclusives, instead choosing to examine games on a “case by case basis,” also it appears like PlayStation players might possibly not have to lose out necessarily. If Microsoft made a decision to become more inclusive using its platform availability, it wouldn’t function as first-time Microsoft has allowed its properties to achieve success on other consoles: Minecraft had its worried sick discourse once the company acquired developer Mojang.

    Starfield is another RPG from Bethesda that Microsoft gained ownership of just, though that is of the area variety; a long way off from that of the Elder Scrolls. Unfortunately for RPG fans seeking to both Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield forward, both titles remain likely years from release.

    And you can’t discuss RPGs without discussing the epic return of Fable. Long-rumored because the fall of the initial studio behind the Fable franchise, Microsoft is bringing it using its acquisition of Playground Games back. This is the initial Fable game in almost ten years and can breathe fresh life right into a series beloved by many.

    There certainly are a few other unannounced RPGs in the ongoing works, including a big-budget RPG from inXile Enterainment. With games like Wasteland, The Bard’s Trilogy, and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge under its belt, whatever this united team has waiting for you has massive potential.

    Other previously confirmed RPG experiences arriving at Xbox Series X including Yakuza: Such as a Dragon, that is another surprising get for the ongoing company when announced. Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is another title I’m personally really excited for, though that is known for a relatively good right time.

    Though not owned, Microsoft includes a special relationship with other studios like BioWare also, which is focusing on games like Dragon Age 4. This partnership has since solidified through the entire years, with recent move being EA Play bundled in to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate now. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Star Wars, Neverwinter, and much more are all contained in EA’s library, which have incredible stories to obtain lost in.

    With PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Sony’s platform was the go-to for all those seeking to play single-player games and RPGs, though those forms of games weren’t limited by that console. It’s nice to see Xbox’s expansion of vision and go back to its roots with a concentrate on gaming first.

    Microsoft is obviously carving out its RPG space for another generation with head of Xbox Phil Spencer previously making comments about offering more JRPG experiences aswell. With the purchase of Undead Labs, Double Fine, Rare, Playground Games, Obsidian, Ninja Theory, and much more, the continuing future of Xbox gaming is approximately to obtain a major overhaul in what its library will need to offer.

    If you can create your dream RPG to be beneath the Microsoft umbrella, what would it not be? Sound off with those creative dreams in the comment section below, let’s hear ’em!

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