Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is the first game set in the fictional Oddworld universe. It is a platformer with puzzle-solving elements, focusing on the portrayal of a weak, underpowered character in a grim and hostile world, who has to rely on his cunning to outwit enemies and overcome hazards. The game has pre-rendered background graphics and uses CG movies of similar style to advance the story between the levels.
The main character Abe is almost completely helpless: he cannot use weapons and is usually instantly killed by his brutal enemies if he confronts them directly. For this reason, most of the game involves careful exploration, timed movement, sneaking, and outsmarting the foes through various means: throwing stones to confuse them, luring them into traps, etc. Abe can run, jump, climb, tiptoe, crouch, and roll; in most areas these actions are essential to his survival. A few stages involve Abe riding a large animal known as Elum.
Abe's only special power is chanting, which he can use to stun certain enemies for a while or possess them. When Abe possess an enemy he gains his abilities: for example, possessing the body or a ferocious Slig allows the player to shoot from his machine gun, communicate with other creatures of his kind, and even commit suicide, clearing the way for Abe.