Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Release Date: 12/20/2010
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While the Oddworld series may have been dead for years now the last creation from Lorne Lanning is a great opus. While the series hasn’t been perfect gameplay wise it instills great characters, humor, and a unique art style that can be recognized from the series. Stranger’s Wrath was a cult classic Xbox hit but saw poor sales (as did most of the Oddworld games) due to its quirky style. You play as a bounty hunter named Stranger trying to collect enough Mulah (money) to get a mysterious surgery performed. The story doesn’t get interesting at all until the end but there are two key plot twists that really throw you for a loop and make the story worthwhile.
The game is split up into two parts. The first half of the game has you finding 12 different wanted bad buys and wandering around the linear world finding them. The thing that made Stranger’s Wrath so unique was its shooting mechanic. Unlike most shooters Wrath has you shooting critters as your ammo and you even have to gather them in the wild. A few ranges from Zap Flies that have unlimited ammo and can be charged. Boombats are explosive, Thud Slugs are like shotguns shells, and so on. Each critter will eventually be upgraded in the game, but this is a unique approach to shooters that has never been done since.
Most of the time you can try to sneak your way around and bounty up bad guys, but the stealth mechanics are pretty broken. You can hide in tall grass and lure the bad guys to you then may wrap them up to get them alive (for more bounty) or just run and gun and kill them all, but you get less bounty. While the shooting may be unique it doesn’t really know what it wants to do. There’s ammo for stealth, but it’s not good enough for run and gun action. Finding ammo in crates helps, but you will constantly try to decide which ammo type is best suited for the situation. You can equip any two at the same time for combos, but you can’t shoot them at the same time. I would have like to see some sort of combo element implemented with that.
The second part of the game lets you have more powerful melee attacks and is all about run and gun really. You get the upgraded ammo types so this is possible, but the game’s difficulty is ruthless and you will die a lot. Thankfully the game has a quick save feature so this alleviates it a little bit. I just felt that this game should have stuck to either a platformer or a shooter because switching from first to third constantly can be a bit disjointing, and even jumping around and climbing is difficult because it feels like all the physics in the game are very floaty.
Wrath is a fun game, but it feels very dated thanks to the low-res visuals, very linear environments, and limited interaction with the world. The PC port didn’t go so well with some hideous visual distortions through the whole game, and no upgraded textures yet (they are still on the way). The voice acting is good and all, but everything just feels so limited in scope that you really wish the world was bigger. I love all the ideas thrown in here, but they are executed a little poorly and the game as a whole doesn’t feel as polished as it could be.
Overall the shooting mechanic is very unique but works against itself and the game doesn’t know if its a third person platformer, stealth game, or run and gun first person shooter. If it stuck to just one the game would be better, but it is a cult classic and shouldn’t be missed if you never owned an Xbox.