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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    PlayStation Indies: Six upcoming games to watch

    Hello everyone! PS5 has arrived and with it, an amazing slate of launch titles. I’ve been hopping back and forth between games like Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and of course wonderful indie titles like The Pathless and Bugsnax. It’s an embarrassment of riches, an overwhelming feeling that there are way more great games that I can play now on my PS5 than I have time.

    I’ve been meeting the delicious denizens of Snaktooth Island in Bugsnax — from Young Horses, the creators of Octodad: Dadliest Catch — and getting lost in the mesmerizing world of Giant Squid’s The Pathless. This month also saw the release of Haven, an exploration of relationships while you discover a mysterious world, playable in co-op. These games are all distinct from one another, but they all carry so much heart. And the PlayStation Indies team has been working with many more brilliant creators to bring a variety of new experiences to PS5.

    There are more great indie games coming to PlayStation soon that I’m excited about — let me introduce you to a few of them.

    Kena: Bridge of Spirits

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    Kena, the Spirit Guide players control, wields a staff which can magically work as a bow — and it feels fantastic with the DualSense controller’s haptics and adaptive triggers. As you wear down enemies, the Rot will join you, enhancing your abilities and helping you bring life back to your village.

    PlayStation Indies: Six upcoming games to watch

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    This open-ended experience lets you explore the aesthetics of food while a reactive soundtrack sets the mood.

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    Ray tracing technology makes Security Breach shine, drawing you further and further into this restaurant of monstrous robots waiting to jump out at you from the shadows.

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    Oddworld: Soulstorm

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    Soulstorm continues the saga as the 2nd chapter of the Oddworld Quintology. Its “2.9D” level design allows players to explore beautiful, expansive 3D worlds in a linear fashion for tried and true 2D action gameplay. With up to 1,300 rescuable followers — more than 20 of which can follow Abe at a time — plus an engaging crafting system, you can approach the game’s puzzles in your own ways.

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    Temtem

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    This vibrant adventure also provides plenty of ways to customize your character as you unlock new cosmetics to let your tamer’s personality shine. I’m excited to jump in and become the ultimate Temtem tamer, and I can’t wait to see how this one evolves on its way to a full release.

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    While solving a murder mystery as an amnesiac detective, developing your character’s skills in this RPG takes a strange twist as those same skills will try to influence the detective with internal dialogue. It is a dark, compelling journey and we can’t wait for you to play with full voice-acting and other enhancements in March.

    By PlayStation Official blog (blog.playstation.com)

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