Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath Bits

Stranger’s Wrath is 1st person/3rd person hybrid that’s something of a cult classic.

The game takes place in a Western-themed Oddworld filled with crass chickens and weird monstrosities that skew closer to the cute than the Lovecraftian. The protagonist’s goal is to travel from one hub to another capturing bad guys and collecting the bounty on their heads. The money is used to upgrade Stranger’s arsenal and eventually treat his mysterious ailment.

The game contains a handful of some very impressive CG cutscenes.

Now the parts that make it stand out:

— Stranger’s only weapon is a double-crossbow that uses live ammo. This is the game’s definining feature, with each live ammo-critter behaving in an amusing and distinct fashion. The variety of the ammo requires Stranger to frequently change his load-out, but unfortunately there are no shortcut keys to do this.

The ammo-selection pop-up pauses the game, but it's still a bit of a chore as switching the load-out happens quite frequently.

— The Chippunk ammo is loud and obnoxious, making enemies abandon their posts just to shut it up. This is a major gameplay element as it allows the player to lure enemies into various ambush scenarios: tall grasses where Stranger is hiding, underneath heavy machinery that can be used to squash them, back-alleys littered with the ravenous Fuzzles, or even deep waters where drowning is all too easy.

All these elements are quite satisfying and make Stranger feel like a real hunter stalking his prey.

Chippunks and Bolamites are the perfect combo for luring enemies into hiding spots.

Bolamites and various other ammo types allow Stranger to stun his enemies and bring them in alive. This results in larger bounty prizes, but it’s often much more difficult than simply killing everything in sight.

— The Zappflies are the only unlimited-ammo critter in the game, and they can used to activate machinery and stun other critters or enemies.

The interesting thing about Zappflies is that they can be charged up for a more powerful attack à la Mega Man’s Mega Buster. Unlike Mega Man, though, Stranger’s Wrath doesn’t require the player to hold down a button to perform the charge. Instead, the critters automatically charge up in Stranger’s crossbow as long as he is not actively firing them.

— Boss battles can get a little repetitive, but they contain a few neat mechanics such as picking away enemies while hiding underneath a roof from their mortar attacks, or using Zappflies to short-circuit a power generator in order to climb a previously electrified cable and reach the boss.

Capturing enemies sucks them into a portable gadget, with the live targets comically scrambling away.

— Stranger is quite agile and can climb ropes and shimmy across ropeways. An extra “grab” button exists that allows Stranger to snap to these props, making it much easier to use them (especially while in mid-air).

— If Stranger starts running in 3rd person mode, he’ll eventually lean forward and begin using all four of his limbs. The animation for this is quite good the speed increase allows the player to quickly cover large distances.

While in this sprinting mode Stranger can also smash through enemies and obstacles, but the bumpy terrain makes it all too easy to lose steam and be forced back into a walk.

The poor Grubbs are rather concerned with Stranger's presence.

— Sliding down chutes is great fun, and it builds up speed that’s retained when Stranger exists the slide. This allows him to travel down the chute, jump off of its end point, soar through the air, and finally hit the ground running on all fours. Very satisfying.

— Optional sidequests appear while travelling from hub to hub, giving the player a chance to earn some extra “moolah.” These are presented in a typically humourous Oddworld fashion, e.g., scurrying natives scream about how they hope “the demon” (Stranger) doesn’t climb their roofs and steal their idol, and when he does, they complain that it’s no fair and he should leave now that he took their stuff.

Stranger's Wrath is slated to get an HD update, but the original is still quite pretty.

— Speaking to townspeople is required to initiate some missions, but this does not always result in a cutscene. Instead, the NPCs simply begin talking but control is not fully taken from the player; it’s still possible to move the camera around and sometimes even walk away.

— If Stranger tries to talk with no one around, he ends up doing a quick monologue that gives clues to the current mission.

— The player can attack NPC’s and get some extra money from them, but doing this too often makes the townspeople rush indoors while the guards start shooting at Stranger. This only lasts a little while, though, and eventually the NPC’s reemerge declaring something humourous like “It’s boring sitting inside all day, so we’re gonna come out now. You just behave yourself, you hear!”

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  1. #1 by Ryan Petranolli on May 11, 2011 - 10:34 am

    Although it was a bit slow at times, Stranger’s Wrath had a great twist ending (not the reveal of who Stranger was all along, but rather why he needed the operation).

    • #2 by The Management on May 11, 2011 - 11:15 am

      Yeah, it was a nice twist on the badass bounty hunter, especially considering the game’s largely comedic tone.

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