Review – Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD (Switch)

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, a spin-off to Lorne Lanning’s bizarre but acclaimed cinematic platformer Oddworld series, was originally released for the OG Xbox in 2005. There have been additional HD versions released for the weirdest assortment of consoles in the years since, ranging from the Vita to the freaking Ouya.

An odd (no pun intended) deviation from the previous games’ platforming approach, Stranger’s Wrath was a mix between an exploration-heavy 3D platformer, a pseudo open-world action-adventure, and a first-person shooter. It’s hard to properly describe this game and compare it to other titles because, truth be told, even though it originally came out fifteen years ago, it still holds up as a unique gaming concept of its own. After a decade and a half of waiting, as well as a cancelled Wii U port (shameful, considering even the Ouya managed to get a version), Stranger’s Wrath is now available on the Switch. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

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You’re going to meet a bunch of friendly yet sarcastic hillbilly birds.

Right off the bat, I can safely say that Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath still holds up visually. It doesn’t look like something that came out two console generations ago. The game is still a visual treat thanks to its bizarre but charming art style. There’s also the vast array of graphical enhancements it received after being remastered, such as an increased (and totally rock-solid) framerate and better textures. Some animations still hold up pretty well, such as the living critters you use as ammo; casually moving around and minding their business on top of your crossbow, patiently waiting for their demise.

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You can beat everyone up and get their money. I don’t recommend doing so, but you CAN do that…

The voice acting is, for the most part, pretty good. Most characters are pretty funny, with exaggerated Southern accents and vocabulary, as well as grunts speaking with stereotypical “big dumb lackey” voices. It’s predictable, but it works brilliantly in here. With that being said, I definitely did not like the Stranger’s voice. There’s something about it that deeply irritated me throughout my entire playtime. He’s supposed to sound like the Man With No Name from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, being a frowny man of few words, but he ended up sounding even dumber than the dumb grunts. He sounds like a dim-witted ogre, not a cool cowboy.

Stranger’s Wrath‘s gameplay is what made it age so well over the years. I really like the freedom in which the game lets you tackle your bounty hunting, as you have a varied arsenal of “living projectiles” you can use, ranging from man-eating proximity mines to electric bugs. I also love the way the game forces you to “hunt” for your ammo, as they are all living creatures. The environments are well-designed enough, always featuring multiple platforms and some areas for you to hide, if you’re more of a stealthy kind of person. Bear in mind, this is a 2005 game, and even back then devs were already making “play it your way” games.

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These angry furballs can be used as proximity mines. Proximity mines that eat people, that is.

There are a few issues regarding the controls, however. You will need to tinker a bit with the game’s sensitivity meters, as the camera is initially too stiff while your character’s movement is too loose and slippery. Everything can be customized however, and the game even allows you to use the Switch’s gyroscope in order to move the camera when you’re aiming on first-person mode. All in all, that might be the part in which the game has aged the poorest, but you can get used to the controls after a while.

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I love the spider shot. As a matter of fact, I love pretty much every single projectile in this game.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath still holds up pretty well in its artistic and gameplay departments. It’s a game from fifteen years ago that looks great, runs fine, and plays brilliantly on the Switch. The Stranger himself might be a terrible character, but the overall world this game is set in is just too damn charming for me to ignore. If you haven’t tried this game after all these years, there’s no better port than this one, and no better time to play it than right now.

 

Graphics: 8.5

Stranger’s Wrath still holds up visually thanks to its unique art style and the improvements it received by being remastered, such as an increased framerate and some better textures.

Gameplay: 7.5

You will definitely need to tinker a bit with the sensitivity meters and the camera inversion buttons in the options menu, but once that’s done, Stranger’s Wrath will become a pleasant game to control.

Sound: 6.5

The soundtrack is decent and almost every single character delivers funny lines. The same cannot be said about the obnoxious and poorly voiced Stranger.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Stranger’s Wrath has a unique gameplay loop, a great setting and a nice sense of humor. It might be fifteen years old, but it hasn’t aged that much. It’s still very entertaining, and being able to play it on-the-go makes things even better.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is available now on Xbox (original version), PS3, PS Vita, PC, Switch, and Ouya (HD version).

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD was provided by the publisher.

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