When the esteemed editor of this fine online publication asked if I was keen to look at Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD on Nintendo’s Switch, I didn’t hesitate saying yes.
You see, dear readers. I had just finished watching a fascinating documentary from Ars Technica on the Oddworld series creator Lorne Lanning. Who regaled viewers about his journey from poor kid in New England (near New York) to concept artists in a US military company to co-founder of development studio Oddworld Inhabitants. (The documentary is well worth a watch (there is also a two-hour plus extended interview with Lanning), as are the remainder of Ars’ War Stories documentaries.)
Released on the original Xbox 15 years ago. Stranger’s Wrath HD is a mix of third-person and first-person action that doesn’t feature downtrodden Abe. The hero of previous Oddworld games. In his stead, a mysterious brooding stranger who must bounty hunt his way through the game world to earn enough moolah (the in-game currency) to pay for a life-saving operation. (Interestingly, it seems Lanning doesn’t consider Stranger’s Wrath and previous Oddworld games as games in his planned quintology).
A point of difference in Stranger’s Wrath is that the stranger doesn’t hunt his bounties using conventional weapons but a double-barrelled crossbow that fires live ammunition consisting of small mammals and insects that incapacitate enemies in a variety of inventive ways, such as the bolomite which is a spider that encases an enemy in a web or the chipmunk which chatters incessantly, creating a distraction for enemies.
OK, so the Switch version: How does it fare 15 years on from the original release?
Pretty damn well, actually.
Running at a pretty close to 60 frames a second and close to 720p in portable mode. Stranger’s Wrath looks really, really good (although, it favours brown as a colour in both environments and characters). It plays just as well for a game that was released two console generations ago. I also like that visually it’s more akin to the original rather than having a complete graphical overhaul. Unlike New ‘n Tasty which came out in 2014 and was a remaster of the original Abe’s Odyssey.
Performance-wise, docked mode delivers a 1080p out – an impressive feat for this remaster – and Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry has done a great in-depth look into the technical wizardry behind it.
Wanna play, Stranger’s Wrath HD?
Catching ammo for the unique weapon is still just as fun as it was when I played it years ago. I still chuckled at the banter from the chipmunk ammo. As it sat there on the crossbow, waiting to be fired at enemies. The game plays smoothly and looks a treat but, a minor nit-pick for me. I felt the camera control with the right analogue stick was just a little too floaty for my liking.
Also, here’s some advice. Collect ammunition as much as possible and save often as in the lead up to one early boss. I was overwhelmed by enemies and ran out of ammunition mid-fight, I had to tackle the boss – by punching him. It didn’t end well and all it did was wear down my stamina.
I’ve loved most of the Oddworld games that I’ve played. Apart from New ‘n Tasty: I wasn’t such a fan of that remaster. I still have Stranger’s Wrath on the original Xbox, so it’s nice being able to play the game on a modern system without having to drag out the original.
Sure, it’s not the best of the Oddworld games but it’s a fun one, nonetheless.