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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    Epic, Spotify among others against Apple and Google app policies ally

    Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, on September 29 gestures as he makes a speech at a press conference in Tokyo, 2016. On September 29 spotify kicked off its services in Japan. / AFP / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)
    diverse selection of companies including Epic Games

    A, Spotify, Match Group, Others and tile have formed an alliance to pressure Apple, Others and google to improve their app store rules. Today the Coalition for App Fairness debuted, stating that “Apple taxes consumers and crushes innovation,” and that it shall advocate “freedom of preference and fair competition over the app ecosystem. ” The combined group plans to push for new regulations governing how app stores could be run.

    Many of the known members, including Epic, Spotify and Tile have filed some type of action against Apple or Google already. Spotify has filed a complaint in the European court over high fees and Apple rules that favor its products, while Tile has accused Apple of reducing its usability on iOS and only its app, FindMy. Epic Games, meanwhile, tried to bypass the App Store and found itself terminated from the store altogether, developer tools and all.

    coalition for app fairness

    The coalition allows those ongoing companies to pool resources and lobby as an organization, while giving clout to smaller developers who could tackle giants like Apple or Google alone never. It’s available to “companies of any size, in virtually any industry that are focused on protecting consumer choice, fostering competition and developing a known level playing field for several app and game developers locally,” based on the coalition.

    The group has proposed a code of conduct it wants Apple along with other store owners to look at. It requests that developers ought never to pay “unfair, discriminatory or unreasonable fees,” that developers must have usage of the platform’s technical details and they shouldn’t be required to use a special app store, “including payment obligations.”

    Apple has always argued that it applies exactly the same rules – and 30 % cut – to all or any developers, with a few of the revenue used to perform the pay and store for security, app review, hosting, distribution, fraud protection and payment processing. In the entire case of subscriptions, year it has noted that the fees drop to 15 percent following the first. Since it noted with Spotify, “[They] wouldn’t function as business they’re today minus the App Store ecosystem, however now they’re leveraging their scale in order to avoid adding to maintaining that ecosystem for another generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that’s wrong.”

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