Oddworld is one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time, and with several games in the series, there’s nobody better placed to rank them than Lorne Lanning himself.
When Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee debuted back in 1997, it became an instant hit destined for cult classic status. With multiple sequels like Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath, as well as a recent reboot of the franchise, there are now almost three decades of Oddworld games to enjoy – from PlayStation 1 to PS5.
Like any popular gaming collection, though, players have strong opinions about which title is the best. Some are faithful to the originals, while others have been swept away by the latest entry in unlikely hero Abe’s story, the brilliant Soulstorm.
We wanted to know what Oddworld’s creator, Lorne Lanning, thinks is the best game in the series – so we asked him. Here, he ranks every single Oddworld game ever released and shares insights into the development of each title, even revealing some features that never made it into the final cut.
The following rankings and insights were given by Lorne Lanning during an exclusive interview with Dexerto.
6. Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee
Munch was a really hard production for a lot of reasons, a lot of business reasons, but also because it was only half of the character we wanted it to be. It was supposed to be a Jekyll & Hyde scenario. In that game, Abe could slap Munch, but the reason he could do that was so he could get him angry, and then he would transform into this mega Mr Hyde Munch, and then it would be this terrifying thing for a certain amount of seconds before reverting back to that little thing. It was inspired by that Looney Tunes cartoon with Tweety Bird turning into a monster.
With complications on that project, it just didn’t happen. The story really had to change from what I thought we were telling to what we could actually tell, because of technology and real-time capability. We were having challenges that stopped us from getting to that level. They definitely live in the same universe, but I wouldn’t consider it part three in the quintology. Munch was such a challenge to me and I can’t say I was that happy with the end result, but I am surprised at how many people really loved it and want more Munch.
5. Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus
I think the team did an amazing job on Abe’s Exoddus, but it was a challenge with the time crisis of it. We did amazingly in getting it done, but it didn’t happen in the marketplace for other reasons, so it was kind of devastating. And let me say that the shortcomings in the marketplace had more to do with publishers going out of business than it had to do with our effort. So that particularly hurts. If you screw up and it’s your own fault, then it’s your own fault, eat it. But if something else screws up that’s beyond your control, it really hits hard because of how much you cared about it.
4. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Next would probably be Abe’s Oddysee, and the reason is that we had a lot to learn. We delivered a game that was really hard, we were on a really scrappy engine, it was kind of terrible to deliver. Then at release, we found out there were some bugs in the game. Those bugs had been fixed, but someone made the decision to go to gold master with an A-class bug, and we couldn’t avoid it. That really hurt in your psyche, because you had it fixed but then you’re getting hammered for it – and this was at retail, so you didn’t have the ability to patch it like you would today. That hit us hard.
3. Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty
New ‘n’ Tasty, I thought, was a really good remake, and we were complimented for it because we tried to do something that the industry wasn’t doing well, which was really giving authenticity to a remake and not just throwing a platinum label and a couple of high-res texture maps onto it, where you’re kind of milking the audience a little heavily.
So when we went into production on New ‘n’ Tasty, we said, ‘Let’s just do it right’, and I feel like we did. It had its challenges. It was one of the first major productions we went into as distributed development, which was challenging, but we learned a lot from it.
2. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
At number two, I would say Stranger’s Wrath, because even though there were a number of things I would’ve liked to have achieved, it’s still my favorite game in a lot of ways. It was a lot smoother, we were able to have our end bosses, and there was some great technology under the hood.
It had its challenges like they always do, but I think that was the game that wound up as the cleanest, most concise-playing game from idea to manifestation. It was challenging, but it came together as it was envisioned, whereas almost all the other games had to be scaled back from our vision.
1. Oddworld: Soulstorm
Soulstorm allowed that epic scale of the world to shine through, and it allowed us to finally get into this position where we had camera choreography. When you’re playing, you’re constantly changing perspective and distance from the character, and a lot of that is because we really wanted to build the vulnerability of the small characters against the big world. It was really beautiful, and I think when we transcend our short-term bug issues, we’re going to make sure it lives a good life as a classic.
- Read More: The ultimate Oddworld Soulstorm guide
I have to put it at the top because it gave us that capability to start telling the story deeper, more mysteriously, and more powerfully, and people have noticed that. Those emotional hooks are sinking in better, the story went deeper into Oddworld in a way, and I think it sets the stage well for what comes next and bringing other characters into it.
Stranger should play a role in the quintology, for sure. Munch as well, but not as dominant as it was before. So that’s how I would stack them. I’d put Soulstorm at the top.
So there you have it: a definitive ranking of all the Oddworld games according to creator Lorne Lanning!
If you’re already looking ahead to the next game in the Oddworld series, we asked Lorne what we can expect from Abe in the future, and he had some interesting teasers about a potential TV series.