Fans of the Oddworld series of games will be happy to know that now a Playstation Vita port for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is available, which is arguably one of the favorites in the franchise. Stranger’s Wrath follows the story of the eponymous Stranger as he travels the land in search of bounty in his efforts to earn enough cash, or moolah, in order to get a life saving yet unknown operation. Add to this the intricate storyline and the unique yet wacky battle mechanics and it is clear as to why Stranger’s Wrath was picked in making a new version for the handheld.
Not oddly, Stranger’s Wrath was able to age quite well despite being almost a decade old. Part of it may be people’s addiction to western films, which the game takes quite a lot of its elements from. Another would be its rather unconventional use of firearms. Although the Stranger only uses a crossbow, as well as his fists, as his primary modes of offense, there are a variety of other ways that he can put a hurting on his enemies as the game takes the term “live ammo” in a whole new direction. Creatures can be hunted down or bought in stores, and each can be used as ammunition to differing and amusing effects. Bees can be used for rapid firepower, skunks can be used to stun an area filled with enemies, bats can be used as rockets, and many more. Thus, there are many different ways as to which enemies can be taken down, which further adds to the charm of the game.
And taking down enemies is where most of the challenge within the game presents itself, as bounties are higher if the target is caught alive rather than dead. With this, the Stranger must use stealth, guile, and other witty tactics in order to separate, stun, immobilize, and capture enemies that would otherwise put up a more formidable fight. Players can also use the environment to come up with some quite creative ways to capture enemies without hurting them too much.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath was able to capture several elements of different genres, such as that of a standard platforming action game, as well as that of a first person shooter. The game has the ability to switch between third person and first person perspectives depending on the situation. This allows for better control and visualization of what the player wants to do, and players will also love the smooth animations and beautifully rendered environments that the game provides. The familiar yet oddly shaped western world was beautifully imagined, and enemies as well as the other creatures that you would be encountering would make it feel like players are entering a fantasy world where familiar elements are turned upside down in wacky ways, though you won’t hear players complaining about it.
Players can also spend their moolah in upgrading both offensive and defensive items, such as your crossbow, inventory, armor, and melee weapons. As mentioned, ammunition can also be purchased and upgraded in the store.
All in all, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is a game that can be played even by those who have played the game in previous consoles, as well as for those who have encountered this title for the first time. One point of frustration to most players, though, would be one overwhelming flaw that is more of the Playstation Vita’s flaw rather than the game itself. The rear pad triggers melee attacks, and due to the sensitivity of the device, the slightest graze on the rear pad surface would cause the Stranger to swing with his fists even though this is not the player’s intended action. This would cause quite a bit of agitation on the player’s part as this would possibly ruin any sort of strategy or tactic that they would have. Fortunately, the developers behind the game have provided a patch that would deactivate this feature and relegate the control to other buttons within the device.
Regardless of whether you are encountering the Stranger for the first time, or have grown along with the characters within Oddworld, there’s still so much more that this title has to offer both old and new players, especially now that it can now call the Playstation Vita its new home. Being playable in a handheld offers new possibilities for the game, such as its ability to hibernate which allows players to stop in the middle of a campaign whenever needed. Missions can also be completed within a few minutes, allowing you to take one or two bounties on the commute. This port to the Vita is more or less a very loyal take on the original, which is great simply because you don’t really have to change anything on a title that is already considered extremely satisfactory.
If you love westerns with a twist, then Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is perfect for you. With this game, you can explore the town that has been twisted and turned, yet still looks like something relatable. With a simple yet engaging storyline entwined within both platforming and shooting action, there’s really something for everyone within this game. Being ported to a handheld console is probably the best thing that could happen to any game, as it allows a whole new generation of players to get introduced to a title that earlier generations have grown to enjoy and love. Of course, older gamers would still love that sense of nostalgia, as well as the opportunity to get their hands dirty again in a whole new playing environment. With these purposes in place, Stranger’s Wrath will surely not disappoint simply due to it being an elegantly designed game. Also, admit it, who wouldn’t want the chance to hurl a wombat at someone at one time or another? I know I do.
Tested on Playstation Vita. Final Score: 8/10
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath was developed by Oddworld Inhabitants, Inc. and was published by Electronic Arts. It was released for the Playstation Vita last December 18, 2012 in North America, and was released last December 19, 2012 in Europe.