Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review

I first heard about Enslaved about a year ago when I watched a preview trailer for it and at the time remember thinking this looks interesting, especially the fact is based on the old Chinese story Journey to the West that that the classic and fantastic 70’s/80’s TV series Monkey is based on. Monkey was a childhood must watch for me so a game based on this with Monkey, Pigsy and Trpitaka got on my watch list

Enslaved is a platforming third person action-adventure game developed by Ninja Theory and published by Namco Bandai and was released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 on 8th October. The game’s story was written by Alex Garland who wrote a script for the fabled Halo film and is currently working on the new Judge Dredd film script. Andy Serkis voices Monkey and did the motion capture for the character.

The game is set in 150 years time in a future post-apocalyptic world following a global war, with few humans left and cities populated with active war robots (Mec’s) left over from the war that attack humans on sight.  Trip a teenage girl escapes from a slave ship and the salvers who’ve captured her. Knowing she’ll need help to get home, she enslaves fellow escapee Monkey with a headband that ties his life to hers, promising to release him after he helps her get back safely to her village and family. This starts a journey through different environments that involves plat-forming, solving puzzles and battling Mec’s while Monkey has to keep trip alive so he doesn’t die.

The platforming sections are a little too easy and at times I felt I could do them with my eyes shut and still not die. Invisible wall often stop players from falling off edges and platforms given a sense of no matter what you do it will be had to die and I found that I only ever really died during fights with Mec’s and not in the plat-forming areas

Monkey has his trademark staff which also has the ability to fire both stun and blast shoots and can be charge up to provide extra damage to Mec’s. Combat involves a variety of combo’s and takedowns and through collect orbs you can purchase staff, shield and combo upgrades and new fighting abilities. Monkey also has the ability to direct trip giving her orders to stay, run, pull leavers and cause a distraction for him. Trip can use her tech knowledge to hack doors and has a robot dragon fly that can scan the area providing Monkey with key information on the location of Mec’s, mines and the best route to get through areas. Later in the game you will encounter Pigsy who will help you in your journey.

Like with many third person platform games the camera can sometimes be frustrating making some platforming sections or fights tricky only due to the poor camera angles.  Visually Enslave is a stunning looking game, with beautiful looking environments, great character modeling and motion capture. As you would expect with a cast that includes Andy Serkis, the voice activing is very good. Graphically the game is up there with the likes of Uncharted 2 and God of War 3.

Enslaved is part of the current crop of slightly becoming rare games like Alan Wake, God of War 3 and Bayonetta that only has a single player campaign with no multiplayer or co-op. Personally I’m perfectly happy with this as there is still a place for single player only games if the storyline, gameplay and length are good enough to not need any multiplayer/online to flesh it out or make it good value. I love a good co-op game but several of my favourite games of 2010 have all been single player games like those I’ve already mentioned and also Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2.

Like with a lot of single player only games, DLC plays an important part in keeping players from trading it in once complete if you bought it. Enslaved has already had a DLC called Pigsy’s Perfect 10 which was released on 16th November and is a side story to the main game that see’s the character Pigsy trying to collecting parts to make the perfect robot companion while fighting off Mecs and plat-forming through the environments. I’m sure more DLC will be released especially if sales are good.

Enslaved has a solid storyline and gameplay and looks awesome, although the plat-forming and puzzles are overly simple. The combat system is solid and once you’ve upgraded has variety to it. This is probably a game that a lot of people didn’t play and it truly deserves to be played.

Rating: Buy

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