On the cities of the Industrialists
DISCLAIMER: What you read here is mostly speculation and aimless headcanon, sprinkled with a few facts. The information referenced from interviews are the closest we have to a greater Oddworld canon, so I handle them as canon.
Ever since I got deeper into the vast Lore of Oddworld, I always wondered about the daily life of the creatures, who inhabit this strange place. Since the games never really touched on this subject, there is hardly any information released on them, but using what little there is available, it’s still fun to speculate.
First things first, how do these cities look? Lanning describes these1 as vast underground cities that go deep into the planet’s crust. The inhabitants, who are described as “the parasites, fleas in suits and ties, tape-worms with lapels” need a damp place to survive as - opposed to our planet Earth, - Oddworld is a mostly dry planet.
I speculate that because of this, the entire city is upside down compared to our standards. The lowly workers and other creatures - think non-slave Mudokons and perhaps even Sligs - live in the top levels, where it’s relatively dry and hot, this place would be the closest to what we find normal. Below them live the not-so-fortunate Glukkons, whose eyes can’t properly deal with natural light2 and other small-time business owners of different species. Taking one step up in the chain of hierarchy, instead of having their offices in skyscrapers, the big fish of the Oddworldian megacorporations try to have their offices as deep as they can afford, where it’s comfortably wet and dark, with every queen having her own turf, which she fiercely defends. Even below them in breathtaking depths, dwell the most influential creatures of the Industrialists, the Investors and major Khanzumerz3. These creatures have been described as gargantuan monstrosities, who could easily wreck havoc, if they weren’t appeased with the products the Glukkons provided them.
Presumably similar to how their factories work, these cities are littered with vending machines for nearly everything one can imagine and even if you can avoid these taking all your Moolah, you still need to deal with shady beings on every corner, who’ll try their best to rip you off by offering products of questionable origin and quality at a “very good price”. The streets are filled with cars and other vehicles, all flying at incredible speed. Jaywalking almost always results in death, so few even try. In my headcanon, a creature rarely leaves the level it’s living on, as you can find everything you want (and of course afford) there and going to a lower level would increase the chances of you running into someone you’d find quite unpleasant.
Since everything is corporationalized, law enforcement is generally lacking and the corruption is rampant. Small-time crimes - like theft, muggings or beatings - are prevalent on higher levels, meaning the meeker, weaker or poorer inhabitants rarely step out of their homes at night. The general population is kept docile and obedient with soul-crushingly long workdays, hardly any free time and constant propaganda flowing freely from the media. The stress, the unhealthy lifestyle and the decadence prevents most citizens from ever reaching old age, with caridac arrest being the leading cause of death.
On the lower levels, things are quite different. As there are a lot important people living and working here the streets are well guarded, thus petty criminals aren’t frequent here. However, the same can’t be said about organized crime. Companies and mafias go hand in hand and the nights are frequently loud from gangs ‘solving’ their disputes. As they are likely candidates for becoming hostages, the leadership of these companies use heavily armored cars or when this is not possible, employ dozens of bodyguards, who - for the right price - guard them whenever they need to step out their offices. On the lowest levels there is virtually no unrest. Even the deadliest rivals - who in any other situation wouldn’t hesitate to jump at each other’s throats - put their differences aside, pull their necks in and try to put on their most convincing smiles, not to provoke the Khanzumerz and die a gruesome death.
All in all, if I had to describe these cities with a metaphor, I’d say they’re similar to fruits, who from the outside look perfect, but inside they rot and are infested with worms.
Expect to find anything you want, but also everything you don’t.
“So we have these craters, and then out of these huge shells of collapsed earth that go down thousands of feet, they?ve built cities. When you?re looking across the landscape, you can see just the tips of cities coming out of these craters. But they?re not craters so much as large pockets.” ↩
“Over the course of the many years that ensued, their eyes became incapable of dealing with natural light.” ↩
“There are scenes in the film I want to do where Mullock, after he fucked up and he?s being taken to the boss and he passes his mom who says ?You blew it,? and he has to go down and meet the investors. They live underground; like how I said about how the world is separated. He takes an elevator ride down 1700 storeys and a little midget guys picks you up as an escort, but as you go down and the temperature increases, they?re getting bigger and bigger, while the security guards from up above are dying and sweltering from the heat.” ↩