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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    Destiny 2 Is Making Changes To Character Creation

    the dawn of Destiny

    Since, Guardians everywhere have already been asking for the opportunity to change their characters post-creation. That’s still a no-go, sorry for the false hope, but Bungie is making core changes to the type customization for new Guardians.

    “We realize that how your Guardians look is essential for you,” opened engineering designer David Aldridge in a recently available Bungie post. He continued, “And we’ve long wished to add more player customization to Destiny.” Unfortunately, those changes need to happen and the existing creation system is heavily restricted yet. Luckily, it appears like that will be changing later on, though no word on post-creation recreation still, but existing characters will be seeing small tweaks.

    Aldridge explained, “Our original system for player faces had some combinatoric content authoring problems – for instance, every decal needed to be authored custom for every player face permutation completely. This prevented us from extending this certain section of the game with an increase of content and features. We’ve upgraded to a a lot more capable system (with e.g. runtime decal projection), which hopefully to leverage for more player customization options later on.”

    My homegirl ain’t cute.

    It’s clearly needed, my homegirl is powerful but she ain’t cute

    Luckily, Bungie is reviewing existing player models by using its Diversity Committee and Employee Resource Groups to improve existing player heads, which explains why Guardians could see their created characters looking a tad bit differently already. Later on for new Guardians, however, the studio is building completely new face shapes in order to make the game’s character creation more diversified.

    The goal here’s to permit players to produce a Guardian in-game they can see themselves as. It is a pretty common goal with many games which have character creation even though the graphics for creating characters in Destiny are stunning, the options have become limited.

    Between character customization tweaks and transmog coming aswell soon, our Guardians are likely to pretty be lookin’ dang. Currently, my Warlock really needs a helmet on all the time as the armor set makes her appear to be a punk rock drag queen and I really like her, but you can find stats that other sets have that I’d want to transmog and equip instead.

    Now we just need Bungie to have a page from Dragon Age’s Black Emporium so we are able to change our faces, hair, and much more for those folks (it me) that made some grave errors in judgement.

    Anyway, Destiny 2: Beyond Light arrives on November 10.

    [Source: Bungie]

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