So the other day I installed the new re-release of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty to my PC via steam and I was extremely excited for a number of reasons. The game itself is something I have a vague memory of. I was very young at the time of its release and I have short snippets in memory that take me back to Abe’s journey through the dark setting of RuptureFarms (Seeing as I probably didn’t get much further than that chapter!). I remember the little things, running from the brutal sligs, the hints that scrolled along the notice boards, Abe laughing at his own farts with other Mudokons…
After having the chance to relive this experience in the breath of fresh air that is Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, I’ve only grown to the love the world and its peculiar and charming characters even more.
Abe is an atypical video game character, he doesn’t use weapons or fight enemies but rather uses stealth to manoeuvre around them or control them with his unique mind control ability. Not only does this alter the unique style of gameplay, it also has a lot to say about Abe as a character.
He is a slave along with other fellow Mudokons at RuptureFarms until he escapes after learning the truth about their upcoming plans to use Mudokons and make ‘Mudokon Pops!‘ after their decreasing wildlife resources of other inhabitants of Oddworld. The theme of the game deals with many ethical and moral issues that occur in the real world. It has been said that the inspiration of these themes derives from the diamond minors of South Africa, who among others have suffered a merciless harvesting over their land by industrial profiteers.
The visual depiction of Abe is both unusual and humorous. He shares similarities with that of an extraterrestrial, bug wide eyes, large forehead and skinny frame, chunky hands and all backed up by his ability to fart at the touch of a button. That last point relatives to the humorous attribute, not the part about his extraterrestrial likeness of course.
Mudokons are traditionally lazy, slow-witted but optimistic. Abe shares these traits along with the lack of intelligence, imagination, confidence and basic logic however the one thing that he exerts is his strong sense of morality. Abe was purposely designed to look downtrodden due to his life in a world surrounded by exploitation and oppression. The main reason he is a character that remains memorable after so many years and is very close to me as a gamer is that rather than a character or hero I strive to become, he is a character I can identify with empathetically. A perfect way to describe Abe is simply ‘human’, and I know that is a little ironic seeing as he himself is of a different world and species altogether, but I think that only enhances his innovative design and likeability and makes it easier for me to identify with something in another form.
Due to his success back in 1997, Abe has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon as one of those iconic ‘unofficial’ Playstation mascots that has stood the test of time over the years. Even though I was still young when I first came across Abe with only vague memories of the original game, for him to stay in my memories after all these says something special about Abe in and of himself.