Platform(s): Xbox360, Playstation 3.
• Rating: Teen (T)
• Developer: Ninja Theory
• Publisher: Namco Bandai
• Player(s): 1
• Length: 8-12 hours
• Online Functionality: Game-content Download
Prior to the release of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I did my research by watching video previews and reading articles that discussed the game’s source material (Chinese novel “Journey to the West”). I also got excited about the game when I discovered that Ninja Theory (company behind the early PS3 hit Heavenly Sword) was working on the project.
You start off Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, on a slave ship as Monkey, trapped in a cell of some sort. You soon see the tech savvy lead heroine, Trip, free herself from her cell and hack a nearby console which throws the ship into chaos and overloads the engines. After an explosion aids in your escape from your cell, you play through the opening sequence designed to introduce you to the very well designed control scheme that the game implements. This sequence ends with the slave ship crashing and Monkey waking up and realizing that he had been enslaved by Trip. She continues to explain her reasoning for doing so and thus begins the beautiful journey through this post apocalyptic world.
When playing through Enslaved I found that I was drawn into the visually stunning environments and even more captivated with the characters. I loved the character design for Trip and Monkey (except for Monkey’s really bad hairstyle) and thought the voice actors were chosen perfectly for the characters. The way that the relationship between the two main characters evolved as the game progressed drew me in and was done through the fluid dialogue between the two. I truly never felt as though a line was forced or awkward. I find that too often games use cheesy lines to get a cheap laugh or just neglect the dialogue all together.
The game-play mechanics of the game are simple and easy to pick up but are just complex enough to allow the player to pull off many different combos while fighting or to gracefully soar from ledge to ledge. One other facet of the game that stood out to me was that Trip never felt useless or a burden to me though the main goal of the game is to guide her back to her homeland. She can hold her own against the mechs and her abilities can be strategically used to cleverly get through/around enemies/obstacles.
Though Enslaved did so many things right, there were a couple things that could have been done better. While playing, I quickly noticed that there would be times where the textures wouldn’t fully load in the world as well as on the characters (which was solved by installing the game onto my hard drive). Also I felt that the camera was angled to closely to the character at times. Though these are things that a player will notice quickly, I do not feel as though it should deter gamers from picking up this otherwise amazing game.
I finished Enslaved in about 8.5 hours on Normal difficulty and I plan on playing through the game again very soon on the Hard difficulty (into which your upgrades will transfer). I felt that the game was the perfect length for the story. I never felt as though the story was being rushed or that it dragged.
All in all, I loved Enslaved and thought that it is a perfect example of how far great storytelling can go. I strongly urge all of my readers to give this game a shot and I promise that you will not regret it.