Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is a bit of an odd title. Released as the Xbox was quickly becoming a doorstop for your local GameStop, it continued Oddworld's amazing traditions of turning the gaming industry on its head. The lack of lovable characters, putrid areas, and a generally barren world overrun by inbred mutants made it something that by all means shouldn't be enjoyed by gamers. Rather, the unique weapon and combat system combined with a beautiful story and proved that AAA titles can take risks. It was an amazing game.
7 years later, as 2012 came to a close, fans got the an unexpected remake. After seeing relative success on the PS3 and PC, Stranger's Wrath has found a new home on the PS Vita. Now as a portable title that can be played on long car/plane rides, the question looms: Is it worth getting it on the Vita? Or should we stick to the less mobile platforms that we've already played it on?
Everything's Back and Working - Stranger's Wrath wasn't a game that needed a lot of patching or reworking as it was a very solid title all on its own. Needless to say, the game has been ported with as little editing to the original version as possible. The Vita port handles the requirements of the game very well. Frame rate remains constant at even the most crazy of times and the Vita doesn't seem to have any problems processing the game. A smooth port over on the hardware side of things.Sounds Like Oddworld - The hilarity of Oddworld has not been deafened. All of the characters are as alive as they were on the Xbox. Whether it's the sound of the locals calling you a stinky turd or Stranger muttering to himself, the game sounds great.
YOU AIN'T FROM AROUND HERE
Worst Controls 2012 - Admittedly, it's been a pretty long time since I played Stranger's Wrath on the PC, and even longer from when I last beat it on my Xbox. However, at no point do I remember the controls being this awful. Stranger navigates like a drunk most of the time, and when he's not running into everything like a Russian tank at a Vodka-tasting party, he's busy fumbling with his crossbow like he's never held the thing in his life. What's worse, the control issues aren't just from the buttons, the touch controls are even worse.
Don't Let Strangers Touch You - I've pretty much hated touch controls since the original DS, and over the years that hatred has only grown as games try to rely on them more and more. The problem is that you simply cannot both look and move and then touch the screen at the same time. Unfortunately, not only does the game expect you to do this, it expects you to do this in the heat of battle.
In order for players to switch from first-person to third-person view, they have to somehow magically tap the screen twice while all their other fingers are being used for more important things. To make matters worse, the rear touch pad (a demon from hell I have yet to see a positive use for) is also used to make Stranger punch when the game is in first-person. That means that unless you like to curl your spare fingers behind the edges of the Vita, you'll be randomly punching the air... a lot.
Stranger Needs a Face Lift - While it's true that games from your youth tend to look better in your mind than they do when you boot them up again for nostalgia's sake, Oddworld is pretty hideous this time around. Perhaps it's the fact that the entire game is compacted onto a tiny screen, but it just looks horrible. The cutscenes are boxier than they used to be, and the whole world seems smaller and harder to differentiate. This may not be the game's fault as I understand the Vita's screen is only so big, but it's a lot easier to pick an enemy off from 50 meters on a 55-inch screen than it is on a 5-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is a notable problem.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath on a handheld console is something that sounds good on paper, but hasn't been implemented well. As an Xbox 360, PS3, or PC game it sits easily on the 8-9.5 threshold as an example of a good game. However, the Vita just has too many deal breaking problems with it, and most come from the system itself and how it was implemented than from the actual game. It's unfortunate that the flawed controls and screen limitations manage to be a deal breaker, because otherwise Stranger's Wrath is an amazing game.
*This review was based on the PS Vita version of the game with a review code provided by the devloper.*