Enslaved: Odyssey to the West review
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West PS3 Review
Enslaved is the kind of game that tries to take itself serious but fails miserably. Right from the offset you get the sense that the story is the main component and everything else is built around it. Don't get me wrong the story is pretty damn good or at least it remains good until the final chapter (no spoilers here). But a game needs more than just a decent story.
So what's the story then?
You play as Monkey (yes that's his name as well as his profession), during a pretty impressive opening first chapter Monkey finds himself trying to escape from a transport vessel as it's plummeting to earth. In his race against gravity he discovers another survival pursuing the same fate as himself. A woman finds herself in the same predicament as Monkey and both race to find an escape pod to escape the crashing ship. Using her hacking skills the woman is able to lock monkey out of vital areas of the ship giving her time to reach the final escape pod before Monkey. When Monkey does eventually reach the escape pod it's too late as it's locked and sitting inside is the woman with her hand on the 'Eject' lever. As Monkey yells at her through the sound proof glass to let him in she pulls the lever and the escape pod shoots out of the ship with Monkey clinging onto the outside of the pod.
Once he regains consciousness he sees the woman sitting on a rock in front of him. She introduces herself as Trip. A very beautiful brunette who seems to be just as confused to the recent occurrence as he is. She's obviously frightened of Monkey yet she remains seated as she explains herself. She insists that Monkey helps her return home but Monkey has no pity for her and jumps to attack her. She screams 'Command, Stop' and Monkey instantly stops and returns to his resting place. Trip explains that the headband she has placed on his head while he was unconscious gives her control over him. Anything she tells him to do he will do it whether he wants to or not. She explains further that if she dies, he dies and if he leaves her too far behind he will die. So Monkey is left with no choice but to bring her home where she promised to remove the headband.
And so the adventure begins.
Think of Monkey and Trip as the modern Tarzan and Jane. Accept Tarzan is ugly and can't think for himself and Jane has her own little slave.
So that's the jist of the story out of the way. What about the actual game? Well that's where Enslaved kind of falls apart a bit.
For starters the characters are hard to like. Both of the main characters have no endearing qualities. Monkey comes across as being a bit dumb and it seems his strength is all he has going for him. While Trip is the beautiful nerd that can hack any technology she comes across. I know to many reading this that sounds like the perfect woman (beautiful and a geek) but she's just not very likeable. She's selfish, spoiled and is only in it for herself. Don't get me wrong they work well as a team and the story flows at a nice pace but I just wish the developers spent more time grooming them.
Aside from Monkey and Trip there is one more main character, Pigsy. He's a friend of Trip' father and halfway through the game he teams up with the duo to help them out. Throughout the game you are given subtle hints during cutscenes that he may perhaps be a bad guy. It becomes a nice little head wrecker as you're constantly changing your opinion of him as the story progresses. Whether or not he is a bad guy is for you to find out.
He also has a thing for Trip and shows a lot of jealousy towards the relationship that he sees blossoming between Trip and Monkey.
This is another area that could've done with some more polish. Enslaved sells itself as being a platform/action game but the platform sections are so ridiculously easy that calling it a platform game feels like a lie. There literally is no skill involved in any of the platforming sections. In games like Tomb Raider, Prince Of Persia or even Uncharted you can die while platforming. You might jump the wrong way for example. However in Enslaved you will NEVER die simple because you can't jump the wrong way. Monkey will only jump if there's something waiting for him on the other side.
Then there's the combat. Monkey carries a staff and uses it to beat up the futuristic robotic enemies (more on those in a moment). It's pretty much Hack 'n' Slash. Bash the square button till the enemies die. You can mix it up with triangle for a more powerful strike if you want, but only if you want.
It's not all bad though. There are some nice areas that require team work to advance. For example you can get Trip to deploy a decoy so you can get through a fortified area unseen and you can distract the enemies so Trip can do the same. It has some nice chase scenes too. It even throws in the odd puzzle too.
The enemies are very mediocre. They are robots that usually attack in packs of 3. Nothing special about their appearance either. Just your average run of the mill enemies. The stronger robots are... wait for it.. identical but slightly larger. Some might be a different color just to confuse you. Some even have shields. Wow.
Maybe I'm being too harsh on them tough. They are quite enjoyable to beat up and the combat is actually very satisfying. Each strike of the staff feels like it's connecting and the sound of each hit only compliments the combat.
As for the bosses they are actually pretty good and memorable. They each have a unique way of beating them and they each feel different and fresh. The chase bosses may be a little repetitive as they do occur quite close to each other in the chapter timeline but even those bosses are quite fun so it doesn't really become a problem.
A few times during the game you get to use Monkey' cloud. It's like a hoverboard that he uses to quickly traverse over water. Admittedly it does feel a bit tacked on. It's a bit clumsy to use and pulls you out of the action. On the flip side though sometimes you just need a break from the action so some might enjoy those sections.
The graphics are decent. Nothing groundbreaking or jaw-dropping but decent. The majority of the game takes place outside in lush green landscaping but later the game moves inside with boring brown and gray colours and your usual corridor setting that we all know and love. *ahem.
I do like the color pallet though. As you can see from the cutscenes scattered throughout this review the game does have a nice setting. It doesn't stay like that though as later chapters are set inside but most of the game is set outside in eye pleasing sunlight.
The cutscenes are nothing great to be honest. They are good enough but Trip is probably the best looking thing you will see throughout the game.
As for glitches and bugs they are very rare. There may be the odd clipping but it's mostly very polished and bug free. I guess that's the advantage of having a 100% offline game.
The game itself isn't very long. In fact it's very short. Roughly 7-10 hours of playtime on your first playthrough. The only reason to replay chapters is to collect the Orbs and Masks in each Chapter. They are the collectibles in Enslaved and finding all of them will get you a trophy.
Enslaved has no online functionality whatsoever.
Andy Serkis (King Kong, Golem) does the animation of Monkey throughout the game and he even plays a major role during the ending. In fact you will see his ugly face pop up throughout the game while finding the masks. I won't spoil the ending of course but it's not what I expected.
Enslaved is a nice little game to play inbetween the proper games. It's short and sweet. The story begs to be taken seriously but the gameplay suggests otherwise. Go into it with an open mind and you'll be fine. Go into it expecting it to be the next Uncharted and you'll be disappointed.
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