Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath Is A Journey On The Ole Dusty Trail
Strangers Wrath is an “odd” title in the Oddworld canon, even for a franchise that has brought games like Munch’s Oddysee and Abe’s Oddysee, as the former is nothing like the previous three titles in the Oddworld universe. Featuring an all-new cast of characters as well as an entirely new location, Strangers Wrath subdues the series’ science-fiction in favor of a “Wild West” aesthetic while keeping the spirit of Oddworld alive.
This is thanks to the quirkiness of the many ragtag groups of characters that the Stranger will come across. Compared to previous titles, everyone in Stranger’s Wrath is nothing short of a potty mouth, lashing out vulgarities and crude humor jokes to fit the “Wild West” more than the previous games ever did. The game also takes a more serious approach, even down to the colors and graphics of the game, as the previous games were colorful and “whacky” with shades of green, the aesthetic here is more subdued and almost realistic.
It’s A Dirty Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It
Well, as realistic as a beastman protagonist surrounded by a small town of humanoid chickens can get. But, the art direction for Stranger’s Wrath is enough to form its own identity while still maintaining some of Oddworld’s quirks. These come in the shape of critters that the Stranger can use as ammunition, more on that in a second.
The Stranger can run, jump, and attack enemies which far outweighs the capabilities of Abe and Munch who needed allies to defend themselves. Stranger is a one-man army, taking on groups of enemies through the usage of brute force and stealth should the need arise. As Stranger approaches his enemies, a radar will appear following the enemy’s line of vision. Stranger can hide in tall bushes to remain hidden from sight while using traps from his crossbow to lure an individual enemy away from its group and proceed to claim a bounty on them.
Wrangle Up Them Bounties Partner
The way that fights work in this game is that every enemy Stranger comes across has a bounty on their head. Upon defeating an enemy, Stranger can bounty them up to claim his reward at the bounty office when he returns to town. Targets are worth more dead than alive and a target’s health can be determined by the stars above their head. Three yellow stars mean the enemy is knocked unconscious, making it safe to round up while a red star means potential lethal damage is taken. Three red stars mean the foe is deceased yet they can still be bountied for moolah (the in-game currency), just not as much as it would be if they were alive.
The same goes for the larger bounty targets as well, which can only be obtained through the bounty office. These targets send Stranger to go outside city limits to take them down which plays out like boss fights in other similar titles. The catch here is that players would want to subdue the enemy before their health bar depletes, as the method to catching a boss is similar to that of a lesser enemy.
Stranger’s Wrath Is Part Platformer, Part Shooter, All Unique
Stranger’s Wrath is a mix of third-person and first-person shooting, with the former being where the player will spend more of their time. The latter allows the player to use Stranger’s crossbow, loading it up with two types of live ammunition based on critters including the earlier mentioned Fuzzles that made an appearance in Munch’s Oddysee.
Some squirrels distract enemies to a specific location, skunks that can incapacitate groups of enemies, and spiders that tie enemies up when preoccupied, which the latter I used to bounty boss enemies that require thinking outside the box than merely “beat the foe into unconsciousness.” Stranger can find these ammunitions within the wild by shooting at them with the crossbow and rounding the critters up.
For A Port, The Graphical Options Are Kinda Useless
Unique for a Switch title are anti-aliasing options that, while making the graphics look beautiful through the use of MSAA, severely lower the game’s framerate to a noticeable degree. By default, the game is set to FXAA, but I found that turning the anti-aliasing off didn’t impact the graphic quality by much, although it made playing the game smoother than having it on. It’s still amusing to see an option included for a port that’s on “inferior” hardware, even if it is rather useless.
Foregoing the puzzle platforming aspect for a run-of-the-mill mid-2000s action platformer, Stranger’s Wrath HD emphasizes sparing enemies to maximize profit offers a layer of strategy when it comes to immobilizing targets. It also helps that Stranger is just as intriguing of a character as Abe and Munch before him, speaking in slow drawls that mimic Western dialect. Overall, Stranger’s Wrath HD is cut from the same cloth as Oddworld but served as a different design than its predecessors.
Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath HD is available on PC, Switch, and Mobile devices.