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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    This Fallout New Vegas Horror Mod Brings Hell On Earth, Heavily Inspired By Silent Hill

    With Halloween just around the corner, there are tons of horror games to enjoy! That being said, mods are a neat way to return to an older favorite and experience something brand new! Since Mod Corner is all about recommending some of our favorite fan-made projects, we wanted to share yet another way to ring in the holiday of fright with this awesome Fallout: New Vegas horror mod. 

    The Hell on Earth Fallout: New Vegas mod makes core changes to make this experience more inline with a horror survival title. It’s also customizable, so it suits any type of playstyle. That customization is also helpful in case this mod happens to conflict with another installed change, making it easy to swap out and make sure everything is working as it should. 

    This fan-made experience adds a brand-new area by making nightmare versions of the explorable towns. The creator also says they were heavily inspired by Silent Hill, the iconic franchise from Konami, when creating this particular adventure. 

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    Some areas are blocked off in the “normal” world and suddenly available to explore in this nightmare version. Not quite to the extent of The Medium’s duality, but it does have the same idea of two versions of reality, one infinitely more terrifying. 

    The creator even included a backstory for the Hell on Earth mod, though be warned: It’s not lore friendly and it’s not meant to be, this is a fan-inspired project. According to the creator: 

    In 2077, the government was experimenting with interdimensional travel. Hoping to travel to another dimension in which they could use the resources there, they opened a gateway to a universe that mirrored our own in which everything was the same … but also, different. 

    This Otherworld, or “Nightmare World,” was built the same as ours; the same countries, the same buildings, but it was evil, pure evil. Once opened, creatures from nightmares began to pour through. In a last ditch attempt to reverse the effects, a spec ops team headed into the facility and closed the portal … or so they thought. Instead, our world began to merge with this Otherworld and random shifts between the two began to occur, people all over the world began to disappear. 

    A strange, thick fog fell upon the world, radio and communications failed and military bases and checkpoints lost contact. Soon, entire countries fell under the strain of the creatures emerging and small groups of people banded together, gathering weapons and food they tried to hold on to. Yet, people continued to disappear. 

    The Hell on Earth mod is a present-day experience based on the lore revealed above, and honestly? It’s amazing. Keep in mind, this is an older mod. Mod corner doesn’t necessarily mean the newest additions, sometimes they are old favorites that may be new to some! It’s been two years since I’ve used this one personally, but it is absolutely one of my favorites when looking for a scarier spin on a beloved RPG. 

    You can download this mod right here. 

    Thoughts on the latest Mod Corner req with Fallout New Vegas Hell on Earth? What other games are you hoping to see some modding recommendations for? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

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