At the time when Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was released back in October 1997, it appeared that the developers Oddworld Inhabitants and publishers GT Interactive had taken a step back graphically. This was a time when gamers had a taste of 3D games and were reluctant to look back. Stepping away from this trend makes Oddworld a wonderful exception to your average 2D platformer making it appealing to those who are experienced with the genre and even to those who have never tried to tackle a blind jump.
You are Abe the Mudokon, a scrawny, clumsy and overworked slave who along with his fellow Mudokons have been forced to work in the biggest meat processing plant on all of Oddworld owned by Molluck the Glukkon. The meat that's processed has ran a few of Oddworld's species into extinction already. Working late one night Abe overhears the Glukkons discussing production fall and need to think of a tasty new treat quickly to save the business. Unwittingly Abe discovers that this new treat will be made from Mudokons. Abe must now try to escape Rupture Farms as a hunted employee and rescue as many of his race as possible whilst stopping the plant for good. The amount you manage to rescue effects the game's ending, although being a saviour is hard work so there's bound to be a few accidents.
What you will notice is that unlike other platformers; Oddworld does not have highscores to try and beat, life meters or extra lives and is more of a calm, engaging and intelligent game that won't leave you with bald patches of frustration. Puzzles are a large aspect of the game and solving them is paramount to progressing onto the next screen. Avoiding meat grinders, flipping switches and using the shadows to your advantage blends its puzzle and platform gameplay seamlessly. You'll also be pleased to know that timed jumps is also not a necessity unlike the platforming norm. The "Gamespeak" feature is where Oddworld's AI and interactivity really shines. In order to rescue your fellow Mudokon's Abe has the ability to "speak" to them with commands such as "Follow me", "Wait!" and even farting. His reaction directly after this humorous bodily function is a juvenile giggle which I think we have all been guilty of at one point in our lives. He also has the ability to possess his enemies for which once the transfer is successful, can be used to Abe's advantage by either commanding Slogs (kind of like a guard dog) or breaking the psychic link by imploding the possessed. One downside to this however is the save system as you can find yourself repeating a difficult section as should you die (which frankly you probably will a lot when trying to figure out the puzzles) then you will spawn back at the beginning of the section or last checkpoint. So saving is marginally pointless, but still advisable.
The pre-rendered backgrounds are a work of art. The use of soft, ambient colours and scenes at dusk reminds me of fantasy style art books showing a gruelling battle between a warrior and some beast or another. I also sense that the game's look and feel was influenced by publishers U.S Gold's Flashback released in 5 years prior. However this is really all I can say for the game looks wise. Graphically some would argue that at the time it could've been pushed a little more as the animations might seem a little primitive, but I feel that with the style of the game and the outstanding visual environment this isn't really needed as it's still a marvel to look at. Sometimes less is more.