So what the heck is a Squeek anyway?
Oddworld’s misrepresented third hero
While no one needs to be introduced to Abe and Munch, there is in fact a third, much more elusive character who was part of the Old Quintology, whose story and even appearance is largely unknown. This article will be a bit shorter than the usual, as the information about him is quite scarce and I don’t want to mud the waters with speculation.
While a lot of people likely first heard about this character referred to as “Squeek” from one of the many Dear Alfs, he was actually first mentioned as back as 1997 in an interview released just before Abe’s Oddysee reached the shelves.
The perspective is about knowing where he lies in the food chain. Abe has his odyssey. The second game will be Munch’s Odyssey. He and Abe work together. The third is Squeek’s— and all three of them will work together. By the time we’re at the fifth game, you’ll be controlling five individual heroes.
As one can read here (albeit this information is repeated in several other interviews too), while the New Quintology is focusing on just one character, the Old one would have featured five protagonists, who worked together to save Oddworld from the exploitation of the Industrialists, all culminating in a - as described by Lorne Lanning - “grand catastrophe.” The details of this have never been unveiled to the audience, as Oddworld Inhabitants themselves experienced their own “grand catastrophe” and shut down after the less than spectacular sales of Stranger’s Wrath and other project failures.
The gist of Squeek as a character was explained in a single interview by Lorne Lanning:
You once named Squeek’s Oddysee as the third entry - what was your concept, at least at the time?
Squeek’s kind of a spoiler, but I’ll tell you this. The idea was that the Vykkers, who were animal researchers that would kill a million bunnies just to make a better fabric softener, had been making robotic life support devices because so they could repossess people’s body parts like how you’d get evicted. They’d stick what was left of you in this clunky robotic form and tossed you out on the street. That’s who Squeek was but who he REALLY was would come out in the story.
I believe it’s not far-fetched to think that the name is most likely referring to the fact that the character’s badly made robotic body would ‘squeak’ from moving around.
Similarly to how Abe and Munch had their Oddysees, Squeek too would have received his own game. There is hardly anything said about it, but an interview places importance on “symbiosis”, albeit without much elaboration:
Q: Will we see any interesting forms of symbiosis?
Lorne Lanning: Actually, most of our very first character designs were based on symbiosis relationships, but they were too hard for us to achieve in gameplay in the 32 bit era. We have a lot of creatures like this in our design library, some of them are extremely cool. I’m sure they’ll start showing up in some of the games coming right after Munch. In the long run, symbiosis creatures are important to the Oddworld Quintology. Squeek’s Oddysee (Quintology #3) is dependent upon it.
Interestingly, Oddworld Inhabitants co-founder Sherry McKenna ranks (or at the very least, used to rank) Squeek above Abe as evidenced in this article:
Sherry McKenna does not hesitate to say that she is not a gamer. She was more invested in the story.
“When Lorne told me this story, it took a whole day… The character I fell in love with was Squeek. When he told me we were going to play the first game as Abe, I said, ‘oh, no, not Abe, I do not care about him’… Now I love Abe, dear God, although Squeek still remains my favorite. And the game isn’t even done yet!”
But Lorne has the broad lines of the story.
“If we compare Oddworld to our world, we’ve only seen Paraguay… It all starts in this little factory where Abe works, but it’s a small part of the Oddworld. We are going to get closer to the very heart of civilization, the society that consumes those products. For the last game, there will be people everywhere, it will be some sort of Hong Kong with people working, moving; everywhere and all the time. That’s why the first game was set in a small place of Oddworld, because I wanted to be able to show all this world and all this activity in the last game. Squeek’s Oddysee is, by analogy, set at the harbor where products arrive, the beginning of civilization… and it will continue afterwards.”
resurrectionbob: The story of you telling the story of Oddworld to Sherry a few years ago is almost legendary now. How much of Oddworld’s story did you tell her that day?
Lorne Lanning: I mostly told her about Squeek’s Oddysee (3rd in Quintology) and moved a lot around the character and dilemas of Squeek. She loved Squeek so much that she didn’t believe we’d be able to make Abe as likeable. Now she loves Abe more. She also felt that there was no way she would like Munch as much as she likes Abe. But now she loves Munch just as much.”
Appearance and the Myth around it
A common myth in the fandom is that Squeek is a “brain slug/slurg”, but inf fact this is a rumor that originally started as an innocent joke by Alf in one of the comment sections of Dear Alf. Sadly, because of an unfortunate series of misunderstandings and Alf’s unwitting attempts at poking fun at people who believed this, it got out of hand and finally ended up on the Oddworld Wikia (nowadays known as the Oddworld FANDOM), making a lot of people take it as canon. In reality, neither the appearance, nor the species of Squeek was ever disclosed to the audience.
Sockbot on Wednesday April, 18 at 1:07 pm said:
Hey Alf, I was curious. On some websites they said that Squeek used symbiosis. Is was wondering what type of Symbiosis that is. Does he possess people like octigi or help of use creatures like fuzzles to Munch?
Alf on Thursday April, 19 at 11:06 am said:
Squeek’s Oddysee will use a special controller called a Brain Slurg. You insert the Brain Slurg in your ear and it takes over control of your body. It’s immersive!
Sockbot on Thursday April, 19 at 4:46 pm said:
When you say ‘Brain Slurg’, is that a subspecies of Slurg, the slug creatures in Abe’s Exxodus?
Alf on Tuesday April, 24 at 10:41 am said:
I’m sure Brain Slurgs are a thing. I’ve seen them in all the sci-fi thrillers!
The thread that started it all.
Alf: They’re about eight-foot across, roughly ocean-shaped with flaps of casual menus. Their skin is surrounded by a ceramic second skin, which has puddles of silk in it. They move by spinning their nostrils, but don’t let one get near your ear or it will crawl in!
Alf poking fun at people asking about just what exactly a brain slurg looks like.
Of course these “Brain Slurgs” are actually a reference to Futurama in which a brain slug infects one of the characters.
While Munch and Abe got huge amounts of attention from Lorne Lanning throughout the years, Squeek was almost always an underdog, despite this he was still intended to be protagonist of the third game.
Stewart Gilray of Just Add Water has expressed his intentions of rebooting Squeek, along with the general notion of finishing the Quintology. His plan was to finance Squeek from New ‘n’ Tasty and “something after it”, which at the time most meant an Abe’s Exoddus remake.
Eurogamer: Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning told Eurogamer today at GDC that he only needs to sell 250K copies of New ‘n’ Tasty to fund a remake of Abe’s Exoddus, the next planned project in the series.
Lorne Lanning: But no matter what, Exoddus would come first. And then we’d get into expansion packs for those titles.
Stewart Gilray: The idea is to do New ‘n’ Tasty, something else, then Squeek, if we do get the chance to do it.
Stewart Gilray: We know what the premise for Squeek is. We know what the backstory is. We know what Squeek is - Or who Squeek is I should’ve said.
GamesTM: PEOPLE GET READY
ODDWORLD INHABITANTS HAS always made a point that the future of the series hinges on the success of New ‘N’ Tasty. If the game manages to shift 250,000 copies, a ‘new and tasty’ version of Abe’s Exoddus will go into production, while if half a million copies are sold we’re told to expect a completely new game in the series, though likely something very different to the adventures of Abe, Munch or The Stranger. Of course, how long either of those games might take to cook is another matter entirely, but those sales estimates seem entirely reasonable to us.
Reddit AMA: But which one would you want to go back to first?
Gilray: Personally, I want to do Squeek’s Oddysee
Lanning: I want to do Squeek’s Oddysee, but it would be a very expensive game. Will take some time, but its a very messed up story
Gilray: What he said
Alf too expressed, how JAW is interested in revisiting old concepts like Squeek or Fangus, mentioning multiple times, how production for these games would begin soon enough.
Keyndid: #DearAlf When will be the next Oddworld game with the Quintlogy? I really want it back. Maybe Just Add Water can do it.
Alf: The next, and third, game in the Oddworld Quintology is Oddworld: Squeek’s Oddysee. It always has been and it always will be. It’s a big story, one we’ve been hanging on to for a couple of decades, and when we tell it we want to tell it right. It’s just very dear to our hearts. Even then, telling a new story is several steps up from what we’ve been working on with Just Add Water so far, meaning it’s expensive. Very expensive. The thing is, we’re tired of playing by the publishers’ rules. That means that everything we make, we have to be prepared to fund out of our own pocket. And we just ain’t that rich yet, simple as. But everything we’re doing now is to help build up the Moolah so we can afford to tell brand new stories, because that’s what we wanna be doing too! We just gotta share a family-size bucket o’ patience.
It would take us a huge detour to fully explain the possible reasons why Squeek never happened, but signs seem to point towards the fact that Oddworld Inhabitants underwent a sudden and major change in direction compared to their original plans after the release of New ‘n’ Tasty. This both lead to their disagreement and eventual breakup with JAW and also the complete and total retconning of Squeek and the other two unknown heroes.
From this point one can’t help but be unsure what to think. The current “motto” of the New Quintology is that it is Lorne Lanning’s original vision. However, this begs the question: If the original vision was five Abe games, then why was the story of Squeek one of the first Lanning told to McKenna and why was the five different heroes story the official stance of the company for nearly fifteen years? Also, if the New Quintology is Abe’s story, why does everyone still act so secretively about Squeek?
Lorne Lanning: Can’t tell more about squeek… he’s top secret