PO'd: Definitive Edition review. A peak 90's assault on the audience's sensibilities

In the vast, often bizarre cosmos of early '90s video games where giants like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D dominated the land scape, there were a bunch of games trying standout and to grab the limelight by pushing the bizarre and gross. Games like PO’ed. Initially launched in 1995 on the ill-fated 3DO games console and later ported to the PlayStation in 1996. PO’ed is a first-person shooter (FPS) that combines absurdity with ambition. You play as Ox, a chef stranded on a spaceship invaded by hostile aliens. Armed with unconventional weapons like a frying pan, Ox must navigate sprawling, surreal environments to survive. This re-release, PO’ed: Definitive Edition, by Nightdive Studios, revives the cult classic, bringing its unique flavor back to life for modern gamers. We had a game code offered to us stuck in out spam folder and we finally had some time to get into it and see what the game is all about.

What Is It?

PO’ed is a first-person shooter that originally carved a niche for itself with its strange premise and gameplay. Set in the distant reaches of space, you embody Ox, a cook-turned-warrior, battling bizarre alien creatures. This Definitive Edition is a remaster, updating the game for contemporary platforms while retaining its original charm. Nightdive Studios, known for their excellent remasters, have taken on the task of polishing the game, ensuring it runs smoothly on modern systems without losing the quirky essence that made it memorable. It is all part of Night dive's, seemingly, main mission to revitalize old classics including a bunch of cult classics and save their gaming heritage for people's nostalgia as well as a whole new generation of gamers.


PO’ed’s gameplay is a mix of familiar FPS mechanics and unusual twists. You start with a frying pan, gradually acquiring an arsenal of weapons, including a butcher’s knife, power drill, and flamethrower. The game’s control scheme has been updated for modern systems, featuring mouse-look for PC players and smoother movement thanks to the KEX Engine.

The level design is both ambitious and frustrating. Instead of the tight corridors typical of the era, PO’ed devteam decided to have the game feature large, open environments instead. By doing this they became an early iteration of choose your own way type of gameplay that was driven by exploring instead of ever being pressured forward. Of course, this novel approach was not without drawbacks. Navigating these can be disorienting, especially with the game’s verticality and flat-shaded textures. Levels often require extensive exploration to find teleporters, switches, or all enemies to proceed and with lack of a chonky manual to read on the toilet it is not always clear in game what to do or where to go next, so expect a lot of trial and error going through the 26 something levels. This design choice can make gameplay a challenging mix of fun and frustration, with players frequently getting lost or stumbling upon objectives by accident.

Enemies in PO’ed are as bizarre as the game itself. From cannon fodder “Ralphs” to the agile and powerful bat like  “Incubus,” that are a pest when you are trying to jetpack through a level, each of the 16 different foes provides a distinct challenge. 

The humor is crude, epitomized by the “Butthead” enemies—walking bottoms that attack by farting projectiles (I can only imagine what those projectiles are supposed to be). Combat can be chaotic, especially in open areas where enemies attack from all directions, necessitating constant movement and strategic use of the jetpack. 

Nightdive's cleanup job and control tweaks really benefit the game here, but there is only so much approvement possible and these type of game revivals always make me appreciate so much more how control schemes and gameplay elements have evolved over the year. Still there is something about the early days involving so much experimentation and trying that going back to it also feels fresh again, instead of all the cookie cutter designs that sometimes make every game feel like just a reskin.


Nightdive Studios has done a commendable job enhancing PO’ed’s visual and audio quality without losing its retro charm. The game now supports higher resolutions and smoother frame rates, making it more visually appealing on modern monitors. However, the art has only been tweaked rather than overhauled, preserving the pixelated enemy sprites and basic textures that defined the original. And smoother framerates do not mean all smooth animations. The lack of frames within an enemy's animation cycles still makes them feel like stop motion at times. But there is a good argument to make that this is what gives the game charm and keeps the feel you are playing an older game. 

Audio remains true to the original 90s experience, with trippy sound effects and a brief rock-inspired soundtrack at the start menu. The sounds of battle, from the clanging of the frying pan to the growls of alien enemies, add to the game’s quirky atmosphere. But the lack of any in-game music is really a let down, in some cases it  can make some moments feel eerily silent, but most of the time it just feels like it is missing some kick ass nighties rock. I went back to look at footage of the original and it was not there either. surprising, because the era was fool of amazing soundtracks, why was it never in the game? I cannot answer that, but it would have been fun to have even added some inspired by the gameplay with an option to add it in the game if you wanted too. 

Final Conclusion:

PO’ed: Definitive Edition is a curious relic of the 90s, brought back to life by Nightdive Studios. It’s a quirky game that offers a glimpse into the experimental phase of early FPS design. While it’s not the most polished or enjoyable game, it has a unique charm and historical significance that may appeal to retro gaming enthusiasts. For $19.99, it’s a decent purchase for those looking to explore gaming’s past or relive a forgotten gem. However, newcomers might find it more frustrating than fun and even those who ventured its alien infested halls before, might run out of nostalgia sooner rather than later. Approach PO’ed: Definitive Edition with tempered expectations and a willingness to embrace its yank and oddities, and you might find an enjoyable, if brief, trip down memory lane.

Game: PO’ed: Definitive Edition
Developer: Any Channel, Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Nightdive Studios
Release Date: May 16, 2024
MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Review platform: PS5


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