Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review (Second Opinion)
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Consoles: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Players: Single Player
- Geoff Barry
Nothing to Gain, nothing to Lose.
Not widely known throughout much of the gaming world, Enslaved received mixed feedback. With Heavenly Sword already under their belt, Ninja Theory’s second release in as many months seemed to have taken a back seat to the PS3 exclusive. This time they took to the popular Dev and Pub idea of a post-apocolyptic world.
The entire game revolves around the lives of two characters: Monkey and Trip. After the ship carrying them as prisoners they were on crashes, the two were on their own to face a dangerous journey across a deserted land surrounded by armed mechs. Trip knew she couldn’t survive the voyage alone, so she placed a headband on Monkey to keep him at bay. If she dies, Monkey dies too. To make the odds a little more even, Monkey carried his staff to dispose of enemies, which appeals to button mashers. The staff could also be used as a ranged weapon with blast and stun damage at hand. In some scenarios, if there were many enemies attacking, the occasional mech could be turned into a machine gun, and Monkey could cut down would-be killers with ease. To counter some of the blows from his foes, Monkey could turn to his shield to block their attacks.
The foreign land also played a large part. It wasn’t the safest area to travel, and to avoid stepping on a landmine, or a mech on standby, Trip could scan the area to locate where the hazards were, as well as find a safe route around. This gave a great balance of power and finesse to the game that was well needed. Platforming played a large role in the overall game, and having the strength of Monkey along with the maneuverability of Trip was necessary to getting through the puzzle-like sequences. Having Monkey throw Trip up to a higher level in order for her to flip a switch so they could both move on is just one example of how the two have to work together. Trip could also protect Monkey from certain enemies by launching a holographic image to distract a gunslinging mech. My favorite part of the gameplay came via the “Cloud.” This was Monkey’s tool that he could use to hover over water, or travel downslope on land at great speed. It was executed very well and added yet another strong element to the platforming aspect of the game.
Other than that there really wasn’t too much to the gameplay, outside of collecting orbs in each level, or collecting the hidden white masks that were scattered throughout. The orbs added to the already great aspect of the platform experience, and collecting so many orbs meant Monkey could power-up, whether it be health or the damage done by his staff. The white masks were a rather large let down. I looked for every mask, getting a vision every time I collected one, and hoped that it would tell some kind of story in the end. What I got in the end was sheer disappointment. The story as a whole played out that way. I was very intrigued by both characters and their stories; I grew attached to them and wanted to make it out alive as badly as they did in the post-apocolypse; but the ending was a big let down.
On more of a “critic” viewpoint, I thought the voice acting and sound was excellent. It does help considering there were only three characters in the game that could speak (Monkey, Trip, and the AI controlled Pigsy), but every word lined up with the movements of the mouths, and it was easy to tell how each character was feeling emotionally. The soundtrack was great, but the true art came from the graphics. While not every detail was crisp like in a Rockstar game, the color was very beautiful. The paint on each character gave them more personality. The giant mechs that were considered the boss battles were the best looking mechs in the game, including the Rhino. However, the normal mechs didn’t appear as pretty. The grassy landscape of New York, or the essence of the blue water from the ocean made the post-apocolyptic world seem almost inviting.
I was pleasantly surprised with what I got out of Enslaved. The storytelling could have been a little better, and some of the mechs could have been designed to appear not so bland. Trying to collect every orb adds to the replay value of this title, along with the DLC that has been released, Pigsy’s Perfect 10, where we get a chance to play as Pigsy in a journey before Monkey and Trip meet up with him. It’s not an award winning title that has sold multi-million units, but it’s a game where players get their money’s worth. I’d recommend it to any platform lover, or button masher, but not to the generic Call Of Duty fan.
- Fun Platform Levels
- Solid Combat Engine
- Enjoyable Characters
- Gorgeous Environments
- White Masks
- Yet Another Post-Apocolyptic World
- Bland Small Mechs
Geoff has taken a pretty good look at this heavily under-looked game. Do you feel that he has hit the nail on the head?