Abe as seen in promotional artwork
|First appearance||Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (1997)|
|Created by||Lorne Lanning|
| Voiced by |
Abe is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Oddworld video game series, created by Oddworld Inhabitants. Abe was introduced in the 1997 game Abe's Oddysee and his character has changed and developed throughout the subsequent games, Abe's Exoddus and Munch's Oddysee.
Abe, a creature known as a Mudokon, works as a slave for the meat-processing plant RuptureFarms until his eventual escape. An atypical video game character, he does not fight or use any weapons, instead employing stealth and a unique ability to control his enemies' minds.
Along with Spyro the Dragon, Abe was one of the unofficial mascots of the PlayStation One and was an example of the PlayStation's more mature style of platforming game. The character was well received by critics.
Character conception and development
Abe is the strongly developed central character of the Oddworld series. He evolves and develops throughout the first game, Abe's Oddysee. He is initially a slave along with his fellow Mudokons, but escapes. The game's narrative and its main character deal with ethical and moral issues. Lorne Lanning, Oddworld's creator, has stated that its "characters are driven in a way that is fired by larger issues." Abe was the first protagonist that Oddworld Inhabitants developed. Lanning stated that Abe was named after Abraham of the Old Testament, because of the similarities between Abe trying to discover himself and for what he believes was the difficulty in trying to determine the true source of Abraham's discovery of monotheism:
Originally, the game's developers envisioned Abe and a mule-like creature called "Elum" beginning the game together, living off the land and being thrust into an industrialized factory slave environment. The developers came to the conclusion that the story was stronger should Abe come from a factory existence and later reveal one of self-sustenance, and as such the concept was eventually changed. In this game, Abe tells his story in flashback, which helps the player identify with him as the protagonist. Abe's abilities include the ability to chant (his mantra is implied to be "I'm guilty"), which permits him to take over the mind of some of his enemies. He can also jump, climb, run, and sneak in shadows.
Abe's appearance, resembling that of a Grey alien, includes large bulbous eyes, large forehead, a skinny frame, and a bald head with a tuft of hair. His depiction is humorous, with the ability to fart. Despite his unusual appearance, which is unlike the "typically cute" platform characters, Abe appeals to a wide range of video game players.
Unlike other Mudokons, Abe has blue or purplish-green skin, his eyes are bloodshot and he has a high ponytail. His hair is made of feathers and unlike other mudokons who have their hair shaved to reduce workplace accidents and promote confidence-sapping conformity, Abe kept his as a reminder of his past. He retains his lip stitches as a reminder of his past, motivation for the present, and a kind of medal of honor despite the demeaning nickname of "Stitch Lips" he endures. His skin has three mystical tattoos that grow over his body gradually: one on the back of each hand and one on his chest. Grateful Mudokon spirits have gifted him with invisibility for short periods, transformation into the Mudokon god Shrykull comes from the occasional special bird portal, and helper Mudokons do grant Abe with spirit rings and healing power should he need them.
Abe has the usual mental capacity of a Mudokon: slow-witted, lazy, and optimistic. He also lacks imagination, logic, intelligence, and confidence. He has a powerful sense of morality, and he becomes more motivated and dedicated to free the Mudokons as he experiences more of the injustices performed both against and by his people. While deeply saddened by his plight, he remains hopeful and optimistic. He is a pacifist, strongly opposed to any kind of violence, and strives to avoid confrontations and apply more stealthy tactics. He can become resourceful and cunning when faced with a challenge. Usually he infiltrates a Glukkon factory or other facility and sabotages it from the inside with the assistance of Mudokon slaves working there. He makes sure to free the facilities' slaves. Abe becomes the leader of the "Free Mudokon Party" (also known as "The Marching Mudokons"), the Mudokons’ uprising against their captors, the Magog Cartel. Usually he follows the suggestions and instruction of religious and spiritual figures like the Almighty Raisin. He generally operates alone but is occasionally aided by friends.
In video games
At the beginning of Abe's Oddysee, Abe is a happy, ignorant worker at RuptureFarms, a meat-packing plant. Working late at RuptureFarms, Abe passes an advertisement billboard for the upcoming latest product in the Tasty Treats line of snacks, and eavesdrops the factory’s annual board meeting. Since wildlife resources have become depleted, Abe's boss Molluck the Glukkon has decided to use the factory's Mudokon slaves as a ready source of saleable meat: "Mudokon Pops!". After this epiphany (reminiscent of the end of the film Soylent Green), Abe panics and escapes from his workplace. At the end of the game's introductory sequence- which is a retrospective voice-overed by Abe- Abe runs for his life. The Mudokons’ spiritual leader, the BigFace, appears to the unconscious Abe in a vision. BigFace tells him how the Mudokon race once lived freely with nature before they were enslaved by the Glukkons, and how their sacred animals were the very same ones being slaughtered and processed to manufacture 'Tasty Treats'. Prophecies have foretold of a Mudokon saviour whose worth would be tested by a journey to relight holy flames that were extinguished by the Glukkons. Abe does this with the aid of his pet Elum and then receives mystic tattoos. Abe infiltrates RuptureFarms, killing its entire board of executives before being captured and taken to a holding cell, where he has enough time to pore over the last day before facing execution. However, Abe's actions have impressed the holy Mudokons, and they rescue Abe and transport him to safety, where he received a hero’s welcome from the Mudokons he rescued.
Abe's Oddysee was very popular, and the bonus game Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus was released the following year. Abe's Exoddus begins where Abe's Oddysee ends. Abe's abilities in this game were similar to his abilities in the first game, with an expanded ability to communicate with other characters in the world using GameSpeak. As he was celebrating his new celebrity, ghosts of old Mudokons appeared before him and told him that Necrum, a once sacred Mudokon burial ground, was being excavated by Glukkons, using blind Mudokons as slaves. Abe again journeys to the Scrab and Paramite lands to find a cure to the sickness the SoulStorm brew created from the excavated bones and then journeys to SoulStorm Brewery, which he destroys. He is named a wanted terrorist by the Glukkons, but is revered as a great hero among his people.
Both Abe and a new character named Munch are playable in Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. Not long after the events of Abe's Exoddus, Abe helps Munch (the last living remnant of an amphibious race called the Gabbits) to destroy Vykerrs labs and save the last gabbit eggs from being eaten. They prevent the Gabbits from dying out completely. This increases Abe's status as a hero and also makes him even more unpopular with the Glukkon queen, Lady Margaret.
In other media
A short film based on the Abe's Exoddus storyline was submitted for Academy Awards consideration after a short cinema run in Los Angeles, but was not nominated. Abe featured in a music video for "Get Freaky", a song by German dance band Music Instructor, and in a music video for the song "Use Your Imagination" in 2002. In 2012, Oddworld Inhabitants has expressed interest in having Abe be part of the cast of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for PS3 either as part of the main roster or as a downloadable character.
In 1998, he was voted at GameSpot as the 10th best video game hero, with a comment: "With his klutzy, benign charm and his innovative and surprisingly sophisticated means of interacting with his environment and other characters, Abe sets himself apart as one of the best and most memorable game heroes out there." In 2008, he ranked fourth on GameDaily's list of top ten ugliest game characters for his "freaky hairstyle, bug-eyed expression and weird nose piercing". In 2009, Abe (described as "a resilient hero with a lot of heart") qualified as one of 64 contestants for the GameSpot's poll for the title of All Time Greatest Video Game Hero, but lost in the first round of eliminations against Ryu of Street Fighter. HIn 2011, he was also ranked as sixth in the list of ten "really ugly good guys" by Complex.com and as the fifth most unlikely "badass in gaming" by GamesRadar. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked this "one of the unlikeliest heroes in all of gaming" as the 20th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, commenting: "Gentle, intelligent, and somehow able to make fart jokes funny again, Abe is the kind of game hero we want to befriend in real life."
- ↑ Lopez, Vincent, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee: Does Munch live up to Abe's legacy?, IGN.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Carr, Diane, Andrew Burn, Gareth Schott, David Buckingham, Textuality in Video Games, Utrecht University and Digital Games Research Association
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Carr, Diane, David Buckingham, Andrew Burn, Gareth Schott, 2006, Computer Games: Text, Narrative and Play, Polity
- ↑ The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants, Portland Mercury
- ↑ Ballistic Publishing, The Art of Oddworld: The First Ten Years 1994–2004
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Thomas, Maureen, François Penz, 2003, Architectures of Illusion: From Motion Pictures to Navigable Interactive Environments, Intellect Books
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 DeMaria, Rusel, Johnny L. Wilson, 2003, High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games, McGraw-Hill Professional
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Rollings, Andrew and Ernest Adams, 2003, Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design, New Riders
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Review
- ↑ "Dear Alf March 2013 (Volume 1)". Oddworld Inhabitants. 2013-03-01. http://www.oddworld.com/2013/03/dear-alf-march-2013-volume-1/#more-2096. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Abe, stats, Oddworld Official Site.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Abe biography, Official Oddworld Website.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 White, Jason, Oddworld Adventures 2, All Game.
- ↑ Clarke, Andy, Grethe Mitchell, 2007, Videogames and Art, Intellect Books.
- ↑ Something strange is brewing in 'Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus', CNN.
- ↑ Huey, Christian, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, All Game.
- ↑ Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee Review
- ↑ OOddworld Tries for Oscars - PC News at IGN
- ↑ GT Interactive and Oddworld Inhabitants Ship 'Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus' for PlayStation Game Console, Business Wire.
- ↑ Ballistic Publishing, The Art of Oddworld: The First Ten Years 1994–2004, page 233
- ↑ Readers' Choice - Best Heroes
- ↑ "Top 10 Ugliest Game Characters - Page 7". GameDaily. Archived from the original on 2009-11-02. http://web.archive.org/web/20091102055902/http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/galleries/top-ten-ugliest-game-characters/190/?page=7. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ↑ All Time Greatest Video Game Hero contest at GameSpot.com
- ↑ All Time Greatest Video Game Hero contest at GameSpot.com - Standings
- ↑ Abe - Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee — 10 Really Ugly Good Guys | Complex
- ↑ Page 2 - The Top 7… Unlikeliest badasses in ... | GamesRadar
- ↑ 100 best heroes in video games, GamesRadar, October 19, 2012