The special traits we are looking for
People fall in love with Oddworld for different reasons. The gorgeous, cinematic vistas and character animations. The non-human characters and the bizarre world they live in. The sense of humour. The messages about environmentalism and corporate greed. The mix of real-time puzzles and tense chase scenes. A unique range of abilities including possessing your enemies and leading other characters with speech commands.
All the 20+ games on this list have a one or more of the above traits and are good games besides. Our top picks have several of the above traits as well as being amazing games. So if you’re an Oddworld fan, any of the following five is likely to be a game you fall in love with.
1. Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Abe’s Oddysee is packed with high-resolution natural environments and tense chase scenes. The Ori games nail these qualities too: the layers of detail in Nibel forest are unique among 2D games today, just as Abe’s Oddysee’s scenes were in 1997, and the escape sequences will have you gripping your controller as if there is a Scrab behind you.
The cat-monkey-spirit-thing Ori, like Abe, is a vulnerable character who scurries through woodlands and ancient temples to save his land. His game doesn’t have much dialogue but it does tell a good story. It can be light hearted and charming and it can be dark, errie and threatening, and that’s a combination that any Oddworld fan will appreciate.
Here’s a one minue clip that shows off some of what Ori and the Blind Forest has to offer:
2. Psychonauts, Psychonauts 2
If a psychedelic colour scheme seems like a hundred miles away from the tones of Oddworld, don’t judge it yet. The strange worlds of Psychonauts exist in the minds of the strange characters, and that level of strangeness can’t fail to tickle the fancy of an Oddworld players.
Other than all that, it’s a creatively designed platformer, has a great sense of humour, and a story that will keep you gripped.
Mind-control is a key tool in Abe’s arsenal, and it is much more deeply explored here, with the main character Raz delving into the psyches of various characters where he is threatened by figments of their anxieties, ambitions and past traumas.
Here’s an quick example from an early cutscene:
3. Another World
Here’s a game that inspired Oddworld! Both Another World and the first two Oddworld games feature challenging puzzles and tense platforming chases that require precision and timing. The games share atmospheric and otherworldly locations, like the eerie alien planet of Another World and the oppressive factory of RuptureFarms in Abe’s Oddysee.
What makes this predecessor to Oddworld even more impressive is that almost ever scene is unique. Challenges and obstacles are very rarely repeated, making the game feel timelessly cinematic. Oddworld takes you to another world, and so does Another World.
Even in this clip from very early in the game, you can see where the level designers of Oddworld were getting some of their ideas from:
What blows me away about Inside, something that few games have managed since Oddworld, is how it makes you feel like you’re in a fully 3D world despite having entirely 2D mechanics. In Oddworld, the camera would seamlessly disconnect from the screen and fly over Mosiac Lines or whichever location you were in, in an FMV sequence that showed off the breadth and detail of the world in which your adventure takes place. Inside also indicates depth, also by clever use of the camera, lighting and background elements. It all looks totally natural.
The gameplay of Insider revolves around puzzle solving and platforming that require creative thinking and precision, similar to Abe’s Oddysee. Both games also have a dark and oppressive atmosphere, with unsettling locations and characters that keep players engaged. Neither game is afraid of a cynical ending, either.
5. Trine series
There are two game franchises that do detailed 2.5 better than any other, and those are Oddworld and Trine. The latter game’s fantastical setting, with its castles, caves, and forests, creates a sense of wonder and immersion similar to Abe’s Oddysee and Exodus. The aesthetic of both games is utterly charming and that draws players in.
Both games feature challenging puzzles and platforming sections that require creativity and problem-solving skills. Trine allows players to switch between three unique characters with different abilities. It’s not quite the same as leading Mudokons to safety in Oddworld, but the party-based puzzle solving has a similar ring to it.
There are 10+ games below that we think have a good flavour of Oddworld to them. For some, this was based on their mechanics, for other on their visual design, and others on their sense of humour. In all cases, we have linked to somewhere relevant (usually the Mobygames page) where you can get an impression of what that game is like.
Classic cinematic platformers
The first two Oddworld games were part of a genre called the cinematic platformer, which most people consider to have started with Prince of Persia in 1989. The first designers of Oddworld were inspired by these titles, and the ones we have selected here
Modern eerie cinematic sidescrollers
It’s not like cinematic platformers stopped being made. Here are newer examples that capture the feeling of creeping your way through an oppressive enviroments, leaving you at risk of Rupture Farms flashbacks:
Single-screen puzzle sidescrollers
Many of the early cinematic platformers were described as “single screen” meaning that the screen did not move with your character, but was static until the player reached the end of it, causing it to scroll. In other worlds, the world was make up of a sequence of “single screens”. Here are some more extremely well designed puzzling adventures in this style:
Worlds full of strange characters
Point and click adventure games can rival Oddworld in well developed worlds, empathetic characters and comedic writing. Not all of them are as strange and fantastical as the following, though:
These ones might seem to have only tenuous similarities to Oddworld. Nonetheless, they are great games and they might be the new experience that you are looking for. After all, Oddworld was nothing if not novel!
Played one of these that stood out to you as especially Oddworld-y? Another game you think deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comments.