My first thoughts about the PS5 Footage
On June 11th, 2020, Oddworld: Soulstorm appeared on Sony’s PS5 stream, with an almost two minutes long teaser trailer featuring a mix of gameplay footage and some cutscenes.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link:
My notes in more or less chronological order:
- The cloth Abe is holding in the beginning greatly resembles the map of Oddworld we saw before. It has slightly different shapes on it and there are more lines than on the version we’ve seen, but the author of the map has all but confirmed that it is indeed the same thing.
- Abe feels very different compared to the usual. I can’t really find the words, but he looks “slimmer” and a bit more “rodent”-like. He looks good, but it’s almost like it isn’t even Oddworld I’m watching.
- With all the changes, seeing the good old and familiar SoulStorm Brew font was an unexpected tug at my heartstrings.
- I’m cautiously optimistic about seeing “generic” Mudokons getting screentime and personalities. While more characters is obviously a welcome change, I can’t help, but be a bit worried, remembering what sort of “personalities” they used to have in New ‘n’ Tasty.
- The Shaman is a character that has been bugging me since the moment I saw them. Anyone knowing even a bit of unreleased lore knows that Queens are these gigantic beings, who hardly resemble the male(/drone) offspring. With this fact in mind, I’m very confused by the fact, that this shaman looks and sounds very feminine. I am currently heavily leaning on the fact that this might be a retcon, as in the Shaman might be an infertile queen who without the royal jelly / hormones, remained quite similar to Abe and the others.
- Hey, least favorite character gets killed off in the trailer. I see this as an absolute win.
- The Shaman pays homage to Alf “helping” Abe overcome his fear of entering the Big Well.
- Placeholder Dripik prevails. His presence is very welcome.
- Meanwhile we see a scene in which several Mudokons attempt to climb what appears to be a railway bridge, while Sligs shoot at them, lending Abe some negative Quarma. Amusingly, despite the fact, that several of them die, it apparently only lead to losing 7.
- Sligs can climb poles. I guess this is how the issue of them being bound to only downwards motion is tackled on such large scale levels.
- We see an airship. Abe’s Origins details that planes and other flying machines are a very important part of Industrialist “culture.” It also reminds me heavily of the cut airships from Munch’s Oddysee.
- Next we see an area, that I can’t really place. Considering I can’t place it and it appears to be a rocky valley, I heavily suspect that this is the location marked as “Gorge” on the new map.
- We finally get to see the turret emplacement, we got a glimpse of back in 2019. It is as I suspected a gun turret, amusingly titled “Slig Mama.”
- In the next clip a train passes in front of us and if you look closely, you can spot a bird portal on it.
- In the next scene we get a glimpse into the new Necrum Mines. The same slanted rocky formations are still visible, along with new features like huge mounted minecart and what appears to be gigantic boilers in the background.
- Abe places his hands into a slightly Mayan looking device. Interestingly, his fingers appear to be heavily discolored (like he’s suffering from a sort of pigment loss or perhaps his skin was burned off). I originally figured the device causes this, but a frame by frame analysis reveals that this isn’t the case. Also the device has some sort of orange thing in the middle. I am somewhat inclined to believe this is what the “bag” we’ve been shown several times contains.
- Before Abe is blasted by a - frankly quite funny - foghorn, we see more of his surroundings. It looks very much like a beehive. This is something I’ll detail later.
- In the next new shot we see Abe hanging off a train, with an expression that reminds me a lot of the old games. If the image is compressed enough, one could almost sell it as cut footage from Exoddus or Oddysee.
- Next we see Abe in presumably the bowels of Necrum Mines, where he chases of creatures, we haven’t seen before. They seem to be a mix of spiders and octopuses, but I really wasn’t able to put a coherent image in my mind together about them.
- A flying Slig meets his doom and plummets.
- Apparently Exoddus’ “heavy-duty” gates look like this from the side.
- A face teetering on the edge of looking both extremely silly and unnerving.
- Next we see Abe being lit on fire, running down what appears to be Slig Barracks. Except unlike it’s usual green backgrounds, this appears to have a more “underbelly” / “maintenance area” feel to it.
- Next we see something explode in an area I also believe to be Slig Barracks, because of all the shanty-town tents at the bottom.
- Abe falls to the ground after being zapped by the Mayan-looking machine. Interestingly a single bug flies out of the back of his head. He keeps muttering, so even if he is shocked, he’s neither knocked unconscious, nor dies.
- And of course the trailer ends with the kicker of Abe loosing his stitches. It seems to be a largely ceremonial event, considering he speaks with them just fine. I am, however, a bit confused by this choice, on a meta-level. While this is of course an impactful moment, the stitches were part of Abe’s “identity” so to speak. Taking them away is kinda like removing the hat from Mario.
Well, I have twice said that I’ll get to it later, so here it is: The trailer seems to heavily lean on the fact, that Mudokons are an insect-like superspecies. Namely in this case, the insect seems to be either bees or fireflies.
There are several things that convey this:
- The mark on the Shaman’s head, not exactly subtle, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
- The “beehive”-like structure Abe is in. I am unsure what this place is, but it must be very important. The point I’m trying to make is, that the wall heavily resemble beehive-cells and the orange-ish colors remind one of honey.
- The firefly-looking insect that leaves Abe’s head. Whatever it is, I don’t know, but considering he visibly flinches when it appears, it must be quite important.
- And of course we can’t forget that one of the items Abe collects (not seen here, but seen in the IGN gameplay footage) is Royal Jelly, a substance that turns suitable offspring into potential new queens.
As for what does this all mean? I have absolutely no idea, however, I am pretty sure there was a good reason why all this insect imagery ended up in this trailer and I consider it something important to be on lookout for from now on.