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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    Exclusive: Godzilla’s Michael Dougherty to Direct Nightbreed Series!

    Exclusive: Godzilla’s Michael Dougherty to direct Nightbreed Series! While chatting with the iconic horror author and director for the upcoming adaptation of his legendary Books of Blood, ComingSoon.net learned from Clive Barker that the in-development series adaptation of Nightbreed is set to feature Trick ‘r Treat‘s Michael Dougherty as director! RELATED: Hulu’s Books of Blood Trailer: All Stories End Here When reflecting on the 30th anniversary of his original film adaptation of his 1988 novel Cabal, Barker confirmed that he is indeed making progress on the series, currently writing “the bible” for the world of the titular group, and that he’s excited to be working with the Godzilla: King of the Monsters director on the project, as well as on the series adaptation of Hellraiser at HBO on which Dougherty is a writer and executive producer. “It’s exciting, after 30 years, to go back to these characters and find out who’s still speaking to me, who wants their story told,” Barker brightly expressed. “My tongue isn’t in my cheek when I say that as when I start a piece, it’s listening. The writing is a piece of listening, I’ve always said I was a journalist and what I was reporting on was the space between my ears.” Click here to purchase the Shout Factory Director’s Cut of Barker’s 1990 cult classic!  Barker wrote and directed the film adaptation of his work but, at the time of its release, it was considered a box office failure. In recent decades, the film has since attained a cult status among dark fantasy and horror fans alike. RELATED: Exclusive: Lin Shaye Talks Status of Insidious Franchise & Possible Return Nightbreed follows a group of underground half-human/half-monsters seeking to find a new refuge and home after their original hiding place is destroyed. Leading these efforts is a recently turned reluctant hero who not only is adjusting to his new supernatural status but also is dealing with the grief and mystery surrounding the death of his fiancée. Will this group band together despite being hunted and persecuted by humans who find their “otherness” to be frightening? Morgan Creek’s James G. Robinson, David Robinson and Barbara Wall will be executive producing the planned series. Barker and Mark Miller of Seraphim Films will also be executive producing. Books of Blood, co-written by Barker, Brannon Braga and Adam Simon and directed by Braga, is set to debut on Hulu on October 7!

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