Oddworld: Soulstorm is a remake of 1998's Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, the second game in the Oddworld franchise. The title not only features great visuals, but also adds new story elements that increase the scope of the tale. Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition takes this one step further.
According to developer Oddworld Inhabitants, this version features improved gameplay mechanics, better character movement, refined audio, more responsive enemies and followers, as well as countless bug fixes. There are also a few new levels in there for you to enjoy on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. The game has been available since April 2021 on PC and PlayStation platforms, but it's finally making the jump to Microsoft's devices.
Oddworld Inhabitants provided me with a review code for the game, and I played it on Xbox Series X. While the title is enjoyable given the refinements included in the Enhanced Edition, it's not great on a technical front even on Microsoft's powerful console. The resolution and performance issues detract from the experience, in my opinion.
Oddworld: Soulstorm takes place directly after Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! from 2014. Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! is itself a remake of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Once again, you play as Abe and are tasked with saving as many fellow Mudokons as possible. This mostly involves opening doors, neutralizing enemies, and activating bridges. The title plays like your standard action-platformer, but features a lot of ways to solve puzzles and progress through the campaign.
For example, you can use rocks to destroy mines, but you can also try disabling them. I wouldn't recommend that because it's almost impossible to time this correctly. Additionally, you can use your supernatural abilities to possess a number of enemies and have them walk across the minefield. As expected, they explode into dozens of pieces, but at least your path's clear. Figuring out your playstyle and what works for you is part of the game.
Oddworld: Soulstorm runs at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second (FPS) on Xbox Series X. Even though it's beautiful to look at, the game doesn't feature particularly remarkable visuals or effects that would warrant such a degraded presentation. Even at 1080p, Oddworld: Soulstorm suffers from stuttering on Xbox Series X. This usually happens when there's a lot happening on-screen — like out-of-control fires — but also when you trigger checkpoints. The drops went down to around 20 FPS during my testing. It's clear that this is an issue with optimization more than anything else.
Oddworld: Soulstorm tells a good story even though it's not as great as its predecessor. It's definitely a step above in terms of gameplay complexity, but the blurry visuals and performance issues are far too obvious to ignore. I don't understand how Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition can be marked as Xbox Series X|S Optimized and feature almost no next-generation elements. It doesn't look great on a 4K display, nor can it maintain 60 FPS. Each level isn't that complex or expansive either.
Unfortunately, it seems like not a lot of effort went into porting Oddworld: Soulstorm to Xbox Series X|S. I'd prefer if it wasn't enhanced at all so I could at least install the game on an external hard drive to save some space on Internal Storage or the Storage Expansion Card.
Hopefully, Oddworld Inhabitants are aware of these problems on Xbox Series X. If the team isn't, I really hope they read this because, frankly speaking, this is unacceptable. Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition costs $39.99 on the Microsoft Store. There are many titles available that cost the same or less that properly take advantage of the system. In its current state, I can't recommend the game due to its high price. To me, it seems like not a lot of care went into the Xbox Series X port.
The recently-released Chorus is a great example of this. It's also $39.99, but features 4K visuals, many open-world levels, and the option to play it at 30 FPS or 60 FPS, depending on the visual settings you prefer. At this point, I expect more from Oddworld Inhabitants than what we're paying $39.99 for on Xbox Series X. Let's hope patches are issued soon and maybe the team looks into upgrading the resolution down the line.