Jordan over at SwitchWatchTV has released a video review for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath on the Ninendo Switch. This is one of those games that has been ported many times over its life, and now after 15 years, it finds its way on Nintendo’s sexy hybrid console. So how does this port fare? Well, let’s find out! Check out Jordan’s video below, or keep scrolling down to read the review.
What’s up, guys! Jordan here from SwitchWatch with our review of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath on the Switch.
Now before we get started, I just want to tell everyone about the elephant in the room. Yes, this is a sponsored video. And I know what you’re all thinking, but just to put it in perspective, there’s no way in hell we’d do a sponsored video on a game that we don’t think is good. And we’d always ask to give the game a try first before committing to doing one, but that’s not important for this one since I’ve played it already a couple of times in fact and like it. It’s one of my favorite Xbox games, along with Knights of the Old Republic and Morrowind.
We were asked to give it a review, so why not! And because of that, we’re gonna give back to the community by giving away 20 of your finest American eShop dollars to one person in the YouTube comments who tells us their favorite game in the Oddworld universe. I’m a big fan, so I’m interested to know your number 1 game. Let us know to be in with the chance of winning, and I’ll announce the winner in this coming weeks New Physicals video on February 10th. So don’t miss that episode!
Now, let’s get on with this review!
Right, the story of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, strangely enough, stars the Stranger. He is a bounty hunter who is trying to earn the moolah in order to save his life, because he needs an operation. He’s a very mysterious fellow as you can probably gather from his name alone, and throughout his quest you’ll begin to learn more details about him. The story starts off very basic. Just earn the money, taking down the scumbags around this locale. About halfway through, the plot takes a slightly different turn as one especially big scumbag wants to do extra scum-baggy stuff, and that starts to take a focus.
While I wouldn’t call the plot essential or particularly arresting, it does a decent-enough job, and it’s not intrusive in the slightest which I quite appreciated. Plus, the dialogue and slapstick humor has a fantastic amount of charm to it.
Oddworld: Strangers Wrath is a mix of both third-person and first-person action. You’ll be spending a lot of time in third-person as you traverse the levels and go about your business in town, but when the action starts to heat up, you’ll be clicking that analogue stick in to switch to first-person and take on the bandits far more easily.
The major goal is to earn the moolah by cashing in bounties. In the handful of small, isolated communities you’ll be visiting, the bounty office will offer bad guys that are awaiting justice either dead or alive. If you can snag the scumbags alive, then you’ll earn more moolah, but that’s not always so easy. You can get a smaller reward for just blasting them to death.
This is also the case for the goons that protect them. You can knock them out and suck them up for a higher reward, or just blow them up if you don’t fancy being overly tactical.
In a nice little twist from the norm. Your only weapon is your trusty crossbow which can attach two different ammo-types at one time – fired from respective shoulder buttons. The different kinds of ammo show just how this game prefers you to be a bit more thoughtful in taking down the enemies. Each ammo offers something more tactical, whether them acting like a proximity mine once fired, or it can be used to distract the enemy. If you want to earn the most money, you’ll definitely have to use a range of these in different situations in order to capture as many alive as possible.
There’s so much personality too, since the ammo are literally living creatures that you fling. They writhe about on the crossbow, being cute and looking around. You almost feel sorry for them, but then you realize just how much better this style is compared to a boring, soulless machine gun or something you’d find in other first-person shooters.
The health system is an intriguing one for me. Back when people were starting to tire of health packs and turning more towards auto-regeneration, Stranger’s Wrath did something a bit different. Here, if you’ve taken a few too many hits, you can shake your body like a wet dog in order to regenerate your health back up. Well, that’s if you’ve got the stamina for it. While it’s basically just one extra step away from auto-regeneration, it does add that small but important interaction that finds a nice balance between the numbness of auto-regeneration and the frustration of stomping all around looking for a health pack you passed 20 minutes ago.
In terms of the gameplay mechanics in Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, it mostly still feels very nice. It’s 15-years-old, but it only feels like that in a couple of areas. It feels most aged in the stealth elements whereby the enemies can seemingly be overly stupid or ridiculously omniscient. The AI isn’t quite as fine tuned as modern games with stealth in them that’s for sure.
Now, the stealth can actually play quite a big part in the game. In fact, it seems it was quite a focus due to the tools at your disposal. But despite the game pushing you towards being more stealthy, it’s not actually the best way to play due to the rudimentary nature of its implementation. Going in all-guns blazing is usually the best and more entertaining way to play. I mean, maybe at the start of an area you might enjoy picking off one or two guys stealthily before they start to catch on and all hell breaks loose. Then bring out the big guns. It’s a fun way to play, geting a bit of both worlds.
The only other minor complaint I have is that picking ammo up can be a little bit fiddly at times. A slightly less-wise choice is that because your ammo is made up of live creatures, you have to capture them to stock up. Instead of stunning them with your infinite electro bug ammo, trying to aim at these small little things bouncing around was a bit annoying. Perhaps they could have just let us walk over them? I dunno. But like I said, it’s a minor point.
One fantastic addition to this port of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is the gyro controls. Before you even start the game, definitely head straight into the settings, and the first thing you’re going to want to do… well, okay. The first thing you’re going to want to do is invert all the camera movements, because the defaults are set for weirdos, not normal people like myself. But anyways, you can turn on the gyro controls for either third person or first person or both if you so choose, and you’ll definitely want to do it. The subtle movements for aiming really add a lot in my opinion. Gyro should be mandatory in all FPS’s, at least in the user being able to choose it or not.
In terms of overall gameplay, I think the game is great. It holds up very well and is still a lot of fun to play 15 years later. Perhaps there will be an edge of repetitiveness for some, but for me the game moves at a fast pace, always seeing something new, quickly moving on to another cool boss to take down. Despite this being my third time to play it on yet another console, it still doesn’t feel stale to me. And I bet in another 5 years, I’ll be happy to play Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath for a fourth time on the Nintendo Super Switch or whatever it’s going to be called.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
As an original Xbox game, you’d be forgiven for looking down on aspects of the visuals. The environmental work is certainly still of the era with little work being done to bring it up to today’s standards. The character models fair quite a bit better, although there is now quite the contrast between the two things, perhaps sticking out a bit too much.
The setting and design is still top-tier though. This very much feels like a properly thought out world, something the series is legendary for. It’s the complete antithesis of the first Oddworld with it’s heavy industrial aspects at odds with this almost spaghetti-western wasteland. But, you still feel like you’re in the same world as the original. It’s very familiar but also very different. I’m not sure how they’ve managed that, though. Perhaps it’s in the characterizations, the dark humor, and smaller industrial elements present here and there, but it’s very cohesive.
In terms of performance, it’s mostly buttery smooth. I did notice the odd hitch when traveling between areas, perhaps as the next area was struggling to load fast enough. But aside from that, it was as excellent as you would expect.
Although, the CGI cutscenes have aged poorly. They are so low-resolution, and I honestly don’t remember them looking this bad back in the day. Terribly grainy, and it’s a shame they weren’t brought up to modern standards or at least cleaned up a little.
But anyways, as is usually the case with slightly older games, I do wholeheartedly recommend playing in handheld mode, in which the game scales down really quite well. On a big TV, the creakiness of the visuals shine through a lot more, but it looks lovely on the Switch’s screen.
The soundtrack to Stranger’s Wrath was composed by Michael Bross who did a great job in helping enhance the feeling of this world. There’s a lot of variety here with many elements of a backwater-western setting, a desolate, dangerous place with the rattles of snakes. There’s also lots of tribal themes which kick in during some of the more exciting areas to pump you up.
A bit of spirituality in there too, which is a theme of the series. They also mix in some futuristic elements in their too just to remind you that this is very much an alien world to our own. It’s quite eclectic in its themes, but it forms together exceptionally well. Michael Bross has really done a great job here.
The value is pretty much the only sticking point for me. At 29.99 in the US and Europe and £26.99 in the UK, this Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath port is probably a lot more than people were expecting, especially considering the lower price on other consoles. I’m finding it difficult to see where the added price has come from here.
Now, it’s worth noting that despite it being released digitally already, there are plans in the work to release this physically with the help of Microids. This is fantastic news to me as someone who loves physical games, especially in general retail. I was really worried that Limited Run Games or the like would get their hands on it, especially since they have a history of doing so with the Oddworld games. But anyways, there’s no solid date for the physical that I’m aware of, but I do know there’s going to be a standard edition as well as a collector’s edition.
But wait! There’s more! Microids also announced that they have two more Oddworld games in the pipeline for physical releases on the Switch. News which made me quite excited! That’s got to be New N’Tasty and Munch’s Odyssey, right?
Thank you for reading Jordan’s review here on SwitchWatch.co.uk. We hope these have been helpful. Let us know in the comments how we can better serve you moving forward. Happy gaming, everyone!
Story - 8/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Audio - 9/10
Visuals & Performance - 8/10
Value - 6/10
Overall, to me, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is almost as fresh today as it was back then. Slightly rough in certain areas, but as a whole very playable and really fun. What I love about it is that it’s just different. It does things that games back then didn’t do, nor do they do them now. At least not wrapped together as well as this. It’s a classic game that’s only sticking point is the higher than expected price. Aside from that, it’s a wholehearted recommendation. Loved it on my Xbox. Loved it on my Vita. And now I love it on Switch!
Full of personality
Great boss battles
High price for a 15-year-old port
Visuals could have been better polished