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We Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Set 150 years from now, assuming 2160 AD, there was a colossal war on planet Earth. Combat mechs were designed to play out the war, but when it ended, nobody told them. Now these mechs ravage the lands, still following their century old instruction.

Our story starts you off as a prisoner on a Pyramid slaver ship. The hero then attempts to trail another prisoner who had a head-start on the escape and ends up being ejected off the ship with the aid of a escape pod (I say aid very lightly), to notice that the young woman has beaten him to it.

After the hard crash landing you wake up in a blur to find that she has equipped your forehead with an electronic crown of sorts. It turns out that it is a slave device, which commands you to the will of the slaver. She announces herself as Trip, a member of one of the larger tribes left on earth, who now wants to make her way home with our help. Not that we have a choice, because no one likes dying from an aneurism.

The hero, Monkey (Voiced by Andy “Gollum” Serkis), is a wanderer who travels the land for food and fuel, is now bound to Trip. Equipped with a plasma staff he has to battle his way through impossible battles with mechs of all proportions. The staff also doubles as a rifle of sorts where he is able to target and shoot enemies from a distance.

The +1, Trip (Voiced by Lindsay Shaw), is a computer wizard who helps Monkey through the adventure in every aspect. Be it with scanning environments, combat assistance, or just generally not getting involved.

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Alright it is time now to get into the “nitty gritty” of things. The adventure continues after the jump.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West‎ is a combination of gameplays. Earlier this year, a third-person adventure game called Darksiders (read our review of it) took popular game mechanics from other games and incorporated it into one. Enslaved is no different, it runs similar to a Prince of Persia platformer, where you perform a lot of acrobatic jumps linked in with wallruns, except you cannot fail. This takes all the danger out of the mechanic as you only have one path to follow, except if the handholds are timed to break. It is something I thought was quite pointless. The animations are very smooth and look great which adds to the pace of the game.

The combat is your simple button masher where you can safely get through the entire game hitting one button. It is a bit repetitive, but doesn’t last too long as the game moves at a good pace to distract you from it.

At certain points in combat you’re able to perform a takedown on a mech, which instant-kills them. This allows you to perform a specific action, for example taking control of a gunner’s arm which puts you in an Unreal Tournament feel until you drop the weapon or get hit.

Another interesting mechanic is the gun-and-cover aspect. This for me was the best part of the game, as it ties all the other gameplays into one. So as your taking cover from fire, you’ll able to get Trip to distract the mechs from a vantage point while you run to the next cover zone and take out a few mechs either by close quarters combat or by blasting them from a distance. Then as you distract the mechs to focus their attacks towards you, Trip can move along. The gun-and-cover mechanic is progressed to the platforming part of the game as you are able to climb buildings for cover and issue commands to Trip.

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In certain conditions Monkey is able to use his Cloud, a futuristic hover board, which allows him to cross to areas otherwise inaccessible on foot and makes for some interesting boss battles.

All the mechanics of the game are spot on for its feel, but I would rather have had quality of quantity, perhaps a bit more diversity and complexity for the combat system and a bit more challenging platforming puzzles. The puzzles are pretty generic and one dimensional. For example there is a scenario where you have to co-ordinate switches to move multiple bridges so that you can all pass safely through. There is only one way to do it and it is all straightforward. In the end Trip tells you what to do in most scenarios for crying out loud.

The look and feel of the game is very similar to Uncharted, great graphics and visually stunning environment. The voice actors not only did a superb job of it but also provided motion capturing for the game. Not surprising as Andy Serkis is not unfamiliar with it as he, ironically, motioned the great King Kong. The only gripe I have with the visuals is from the Unreal Engine that powers it. I saw the same flaw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Singularity (read our review of it), which was the texture streaming. It is kind of irritating admiring the world when you look up at a building and it slowly becomes more textured and detailed. But that is not the game’s fault. I’m not too sure how the 360 version looks in this regard, but otherwise the game is spot on between the consoles.

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Ninja Theory really performed well with Enslaved, as it had high expectations from its previous release: Heavenly Sword. It’s was a good release for this month as it was a new IP, so it gave us something new, rather than all the other sequels that were released.

If you’re planning on Trophy/Achievement whoring this game, I suggest you start the game off on hard. It has a little steep learning curve but actually gets easier as you progress. You are able to chapter select and retrace your steps to find all the collectables you missed on your first playthrough. It took me around 10 or 11 hours to finish, and rounded up 70% of the trophies without trying for any.

Overall I was very pleased with Enslaved. The story starts off very vague and in the end you’re left a bit confused, so I assume you can make what you will of it, but i guarantee a great twist. With a good stoy, help written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later), and a developer who knows about delivering a story, you can expect to play what feels like a cinematic experience.

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