One of the weapons in your arsenal is the ability to collect and throw water bottles or Soulstorm bottles, which can be found in lockers along the way. Soulstorm brew is a highly flammable concoction and can be used to start a fire to kill enemies along the way. In turn, water bottles can be used to put out fires blocking your path. When enemies are patrolling a certain path in the game, you’ll often find yourself having to throw a bottle precisely when an enemy has their back turned, before jumping off a ledge at lightning speed. The same goes for craftable weapons like grenades. Often, you’ll have to make sure to aim your throw in a very specific way to take out enemies. If you miss your chance, you’ll be shot by enemies in the blink of an eye and the game will mercilessly propel you back to the previous checkpoint.
This often results in nail-biting gameplay. The difficulty of levels and puzzles in Oddworld clearly takes inspiration from older games that were often unforgiving. It doesn’t hold your hand or sprinkle the interface with clues. Instead, the game’s hints and tutorials are sparse, leaving the player to fill in the blanks. This sort of freedom in games is normally something I really enjoy. Next to more modern games that can sometimes over-explain things, figuring things out of the fly can be refreshing. However, when it came to Oddworld: Soulstorm, it quickly became frustrating because of the controls and a whole range of glitchy bugs I encountered. The game crashed randomly at times. There were also a number of times I had to restart the game, only to find I had been put in a completely different checkpoint than where I had last saved the game. Sometimes I skipped a few checkpoints in the level, while other times I found myself having to clear areas that I had completed previously.
On top of this, the controls felt clunky, which only made the whole experience more infuriating. When I first booted the game up on PC, I was disappointed to see that there was no ability to view the keyboard mapping, and there was no option to remap any of the controls, either. Even in the game’s tutorials, keys were displayed with controller symbols rather than letters, which meant I mostly had to improvise to get past obstacles early in the game. The controls weren’t very responsive for me either, particularly in stealth situations, which made the overall gameplay experience sluggish and cumbersome. This was incredibly frustrating, especially as it meant that I was often propelled back to the same checkpoint over, and over, and over again. I found this incredibly unfortunate, particularly after seeing the work and care that clearly went into Oddworld: Soulstorm’s detail and level design. Because of this, it felt particularly disappointing to be left scrambling a lot of the time, especially in levels where the timing of jumping on or climbing over a ledge was critical.