Enslaved, Story frustrations and massive spoilers.

Posted by GunstarRed (4728 posts) -

Has anyone else found the storytelling to be really frustrating in this game?  The developers have made a big deal about getting Andy Serkis to direct the game and Alex Garland to write it only for the whole experience to feel like most of the story is missing. By the time the final cutscene rolls around I know nothing about Monkey other than he trades with other communities, can jump about a bit and has ridiculously large hands. Trip is mildly annoying at points and I cannot understand how Monkey is so calm with her for basically making him a slave. I understand that theyre going for more of a feel than outright character facts but it would be really nice to know something about the main characters other than how they act around each other.  

Ive heard in a lot of interviews that Alex Garland came in and questioned a lot of why  things were happening so they changed the game to answer this and i'm pretty sure this has lead to the excessive handholding that continues right up until the final part of the final boss. The game constantly throws you out of the world by saying "hey look, enemy here, enemy there, jump here, do this" sometimes I just wanted to explore and find my own way through this (mostly) beautiful world but the game never let me do this, I was constantly told what to do. This leads to a weird jerkiness in the way the story is told, I'm often meant to feel like I am under some kind of time pressure and all the game wants to do is pull out and show me that another slow moving object has shifted into place.  

Pigsy, I HATE Pigsy, he ruins a lot of what makes the initial story so interesting. He would be ok if he was just in a small part of the game but he follows you around for the whole back end of the game making unfunny, badly acted quips about icecream and hair product. By the time his demise rolls around I was so glad I wouldn't have to listen to his shitty dialogue and that's where I'm thrown another frustration about the story, the game starts getting all orchestral as bullets fly into him in slo-mo while Monkey saves trip and I'm meant to feel like pigsy has done so much for me and that this highly emotional moment was earned. No, not at all. I know nothing about Pigsy other than he likes Trip and Mechs and snorts like a pig. The funniest thing about this is that pigsy is the most fleshed out of the three main characters.  

Trip and Monkeys scenes are well acted but far too brief, I understand that some people hate lengthy cutscenes but this game  cuts them off whenever they get vaguely interesting, Just a little more about these two would be nice. Everything is just said in a throwaway manner "ive got a cloud...it works sometimes...and sometimes it doesn't" ooook, thanks, why did the slavers let you keep it? Why did they take your bike and "stuff" along with you when you were just going to put into Pyramid slavery? because anyone that has seen the epilogue would know that all of those things are pointless. They sometimes talk about this war, but other than the overgrown world and mechs they never explain beyond this, So frustrating! I just want to know a little more beyond "Monkey probably has feelings for trip" A scene late in the game tries for some emotional impact when Trip turns off the headband and Monkey is all "turn it back on!" in an angry manner like we should know why as beyond the slight anger in the earliest scenes in the game Monkey is a relatively calm character.  

I want to like the games story, the setting is original (as original as post apocalyptic worlds go) and I'm reminded in the back of my mind about how beautiful Heavenly Swords storytelling was but in Enslaved im constantly thrown unearned big emotional moments with characters I dont really care for and even more annoyingly a lot of the  big emotional scenes have music just cut off  abruptly as a loading screen kicks in, theres nothing worse than destroying moments like that. When the ending finally rolls around  youre just greeted with a bad Matrix rip off, It took Alex Garland to write this poorly thought out idea? If Hollywood Writers are going to come along and elevate videogames to some kind of artform theyre going to have to rtry a lot harder than this when games like Uncharted, GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption are all doing it a whole lot better. Even Gears does characterization better than this. I know who  Delta Squad are as people I couldn't tell you at all who Monkey or Trip are.    
 
I liked Enslaved, it's a good game, the platforming feels fine, theres some fun puzzles and the combat is pretty exciting despite not changing  from the first enemy to the last and the game looks pretty.  For all of it's story annoyances it is acted really well for the most part with  Monkey and Trips interaction coming off as believeable, the score is also pretty good but the way it just cuts out after youve killed all the enemies and then starts up  five seconds later after another encounter  really throws off the flow of things. I heard an interview with Nitin Sawhney and he talked about making the music flow (a bit like Metal Gear shifts from sneaky to action in an instant) and this does not happen at all in the game which is a little disappointing.  The game is very easy and very short and I dont think anyone will have any real problems with the game. The only time I had any real problem with it was when the camera jerked suddenly when I rolled or the whole camera broke out of the world and I was gunned down by an invisible mech. I wish I could say I want to see more of Monkey but I honestly don't really care which is a little disappointing as I left Heavenly Sword wanting to see more or Nariko and Kai and expected something similar. It was a nice distraction for a weekend but I feel like I'd have been better off buying Castlevania.
#1 Posted by GunstarRed (4728 posts) -

Has anyone else found the storytelling to be really frustrating in this game?  The developers have made a big deal about getting Andy Serkis to direct the game and Alex Garland to write it only for the whole experience to feel like most of the story is missing. By the time the final cutscene rolls around I know nothing about Monkey other than he trades with other communities, can jump about a bit and has ridiculously large hands. Trip is mildly annoying at points and I cannot understand how Monkey is so calm with her for basically making him a slave. I understand that theyre going for more of a feel than outright character facts but it would be really nice to know something about the main characters other than how they act around each other.  

Ive heard in a lot of interviews that Alex Garland came in and questioned a lot of why  things were happening so they changed the game to answer this and i'm pretty sure this has lead to the excessive handholding that continues right up until the final part of the final boss. The game constantly throws you out of the world by saying "hey look, enemy here, enemy there, jump here, do this" sometimes I just wanted to explore and find my own way through this (mostly) beautiful world but the game never let me do this, I was constantly told what to do. This leads to a weird jerkiness in the way the story is told, I'm often meant to feel like I am under some kind of time pressure and all the game wants to do is pull out and show me that another slow moving object has shifted into place.  

Pigsy, I HATE Pigsy, he ruins a lot of what makes the initial story so interesting. He would be ok if he was just in a small part of the game but he follows you around for the whole back end of the game making unfunny, badly acted quips about icecream and hair product. By the time his demise rolls around I was so glad I wouldn't have to listen to his shitty dialogue and that's where I'm thrown another frustration about the story, the game starts getting all orchestral as bullets fly into him in slo-mo while Monkey saves trip and I'm meant to feel like pigsy has done so much for me and that this highly emotional moment was earned. No, not at all. I know nothing about Pigsy other than he likes Trip and Mechs and snorts like a pig. The funniest thing about this is that pigsy is the most fleshed out of the three main characters.  

Trip and Monkeys scenes are well acted but far too brief, I understand that some people hate lengthy cutscenes but this game  cuts them off whenever they get vaguely interesting, Just a little more about these two would be nice. Everything is just said in a throwaway manner "ive got a cloud...it works sometimes...and sometimes it doesn't" ooook, thanks, why did the slavers let you keep it? Why did they take your bike and "stuff" along with you when you were just going to put into Pyramid slavery? because anyone that has seen the epilogue would know that all of those things are pointless. They sometimes talk about this war, but other than the overgrown world and mechs they never explain beyond this, So frustrating! I just want to know a little more beyond "Monkey probably has feelings for trip" A scene late in the game tries for some emotional impact when Trip turns off the headband and Monkey is all "turn it back on!" in an angry manner like we should know why as beyond the slight anger in the earliest scenes in the game Monkey is a relatively calm character.  

I want to like the games story, the setting is original (as original as post apocalyptic worlds go) and I'm reminded in the back of my mind about how beautiful Heavenly Swords storytelling was but in Enslaved im constantly thrown unearned big emotional moments with characters I dont really care for and even more annoyingly a lot of the  big emotional scenes have music just cut off  abruptly as a loading screen kicks in, theres nothing worse than destroying moments like that. When the ending finally rolls around  youre just greeted with a bad Matrix rip off, It took Alex Garland to write this poorly thought out idea? If Hollywood Writers are going to come along and elevate videogames to some kind of artform theyre going to have to rtry a lot harder than this when games like Uncharted, GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption are all doing it a whole lot better. Even Gears does characterization better than this. I know who  Delta Squad are as people I couldn't tell you at all who Monkey or Trip are.    
 
I liked Enslaved, it's a good game, the platforming feels fine, theres some fun puzzles and the combat is pretty exciting despite not changing  from the first enemy to the last and the game looks pretty.  For all of it's story annoyances it is acted really well for the most part with  Monkey and Trips interaction coming off as believeable, the score is also pretty good but the way it just cuts out after youve killed all the enemies and then starts up  five seconds later after another encounter  really throws off the flow of things. I heard an interview with Nitin Sawhney and he talked about making the music flow (a bit like Metal Gear shifts from sneaky to action in an instant) and this does not happen at all in the game which is a little disappointing.  The game is very easy and very short and I dont think anyone will have any real problems with the game. The only time I had any real problem with it was when the camera jerked suddenly when I rolled or the whole camera broke out of the world and I was gunned down by an invisible mech. I wish I could say I want to see more of Monkey but I honestly don't really care which is a little disappointing as I left Heavenly Sword wanting to see more or Nariko and Kai and expected something similar. It was a nice distraction for a weekend but I feel like I'd have been better off buying Castlevania.
#2 Posted by Sweep (8540 posts) -

I feel pretty similar about it, however I thought Pigsy was pretty funny. I totally understand what you mean about his death though, he basically acted like a twat the whole game and his heartfelt emotional demise was pretty undeserved. 
 
There are a lot of holes in the plot, which frustrated me, but Alex Garland didn't actually write the game. He was a co-writer, there's a really interesting interview with him in EDGE where he explains about his role in the development: 
 

Alex Garland:

 "An example of the process might be: they would have a level - say, a collection of streets in New York. They would also have key gameplay elements, such as finding a robotic dragonfly to get over a minefield, and a need to describe that to the player via dialogue. So primarily my job was to help map out that dialogue within the action.    "

 
I didn't really like the ending either, it was just weird and undeserved. The game sort of implied there was a whole army with the mechs which I would have been much more interested in. The slavers weren't really a presence in the game, and the mechs weren't explained at all either which left me feeling less than satisfied.  
 
But the game is really good, and I had a lot of fun playing it, even if the enemies were uselessly similar.
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#3 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5750 posts) -

I wasn't expecting a great story to be honest. 
 
I read through this because I had no intention of buying it, and now I'm even less interested in it.

#4 Edited by CptPanda29 (189 posts) -

 All I can say really is: My thoughts exactly. 
 
In other posts about this I said I was interested in the game for two reasons, needed to kill time until the 29th (UK releases), and it looked quite a lot like Jak and Daxter - fairly linear but the option was there to go off and collect orbs and do other challenges (might have gone to 101%, was the first game I ever did absolutely everything in), was a huge and colorful world with genuinely funny moments,    fun ways to get around it, challenging platforming and simple but effective combat. 
 
Enslaved is very linear and the collectables are littered all over the main path. It's definitely a very pretty world but it's quite limited, it's three characters are...  
I guess I like Monkey, but then again I love the Monkey King in pretty much any incarnation. Trip somehow manages to be an escort objective and not make me want to drink bleach - all developers take note of her having several abilities that aid the player directly. You don't even need to use her decoy in 95% of the cover run parts, it just makes the player's life easier. Pigsy was OK at first, seemed like another person who was helping on the mission while being a relatively decent person,  but the sudden love triangle put me right off him. And he kind of tries to kill you, which is way too easily shrugged off, if anything by the end he owed Monkey that. 
 
Platforming never got beyond mash A in the direction you want to go, press B to go back. As far as combat, max out plasma damage as soon as you can - one shots almost everything, on hard. If that doesn't kill it you can fairly easily stunlock it, taking into account dodging projectiles etc. Once I realised the camera doesn't even matter as you don't need to see what you're doing at all. Just throw attacks at the general direction, and don't even give a direction when using a focus attack. 
 
Gaah... I think I like this game, I want to at least. When a game ends like that you're expected to look back at everything that happened and come to some kind of conclusion. But when I think of something I like about it there's always at least one "but". 
 
*edit - spotted typos*

#5 Edited by Vorbis (2748 posts) -

Sometimes things don't need to be explained. Think of Left 4 Dead, that games alot more interesting because Valve don't straight up say "it was caused by a meteorite" or "an infected monkey", it's the same for those types of films, story telling isn't always required to tell you everything, you can fill in those parts yourself. You talk about the game holding your hand and you want the story to do the same? the characters don't know how the war ended, so you don't need to know either, you can guess what happened from all the billboards, writings and hints in the diagloue.
 
Why do you need to know Monkeys background to enjoy the story other than what they told you? his family was killed because they were part of a colony, so now believes all colonies will be targetted by slavers, so he lives his life as a loner and now he's forced to fight alongside someone who believes you need others to survive. You can see the moment they arrive at Trips village and the gates are locked that Monkey knows exactly what has happened.  There's alot of sublety between the characters that you must of missed, like the time Monkey starts to trust Trip is after he kills the first Dog and realises that he couldn't of done it alone, so maybe he does need others after all. Then later, Trip looks disappointed when Monkey tells Pigsy that he still considers her his slaver and not a friend. Later on this manifests to such a point where he doesn't want to be alone anymore so tells her to put the headband back on, he understands what she's going through because it happened to him and doesn't want her to turn into what he had become.
 
As for Pigsy, you are meant to hate him, that's the whole point of his character. He's there to wedge a gap between Monkey and Trip, only redeeming himself at the end. It's not a love triangle, only Pigsy thinks that it is, the relationship between Trip and Monkey is on trust and the need for each other to survive.

The cloud is explained by Trip that it "resonates around static EM fields with high enough concentration", it's science, you don't need more to justify it, look at Star Trek. It's fairly obvious that the Slavers are collecting machinary, why wouldn't they take his bike with a powercell in it? Also I don't see how the ending is a Matrix rip off, the people in Pyramid are living in one mans memory because the outside world is so horrible, that's nothing like the Matrix. 
 
 I loved the story and the characters, I felt disappointed when the game was over because I wouldn't be apart of their story anymore, it's been a while since I have felt that in a game. it seems like some people need everything explained to them and that's not how proper story telling is at all, videogames have a bad habit of treating its audience like babies and spelling everything out for you. Mass Effect, Nier and Enslaved are just a few who don't.

#6 Posted by CptPanda29 (189 posts) -
@Vorbis said:
" Sometimes things don't need to be explained. Think of Left 4 Dead ..."  
I hated Left 4 Dead for that, it's only bearable because it was very aware that there was no plot. IMO the gameplay doesn't even compensate for it, it's only fun when you're not trying to win. Enslaved and all games with narrative like it are so smug about it's deep message. Any kind of Platonic rip-off point it wan't to make is crushed by the achievement that pops up immediately after it fades to back saying "Freed the Slaves". I sat through the credits writing my above post waiting for another cutscene with a legitimate ending.  
 
You're meant to think about the perfect dream world that the "slaves" were living in, and that Trip essentially tore it away from them. Maybe she was wrong to take this life away from them as shown when she says to the player character "Did I do the right thing?".
  Firstly - yes. Secondly - This guy who ran Pyramid - an AI, decisions based on computer logic, with his tireless mechanical army, perfect recollection of the ideal world... Why doesn't he rebuild society? F*ck that guy and his BS ideology, he's the bad guy. 
 
Thirdly - If at least some of the mechs weren't under his control (even though his slave ships were full of them), and these mechs were continuing on a military program to kill all humans after the main control was probably blown to hell in the war, they would never shut down, or reposition themselves around the desolated city.  They didn't fall there as the ship was crashing as there was zero other debris until you reach the site itself, and turrets wouldn't fall into perfectly dug out holes in buildings.
 
Before you even try to say "Oh well that's game design, there wouldn't be any kind of threat to the player otherwise", that's why you have to justify enemies being there, and it's those areas that are missing and left for the player - who apparently wants to be told a story, to just make up themselves. Even Ninja Gaiden tells you "They're bad guys sent to kill you by the main bad guy". These are the only ways I can think to explain enemy presence. Tell me if I'm missing something, I'll be playing through it again anyway to collect as much as I can.
#7 Posted by Vorbis (2748 posts) -
@CptPanda29: From what I understand the robots were left there after the apocalyptic war, going inactive when there was nothing nearby to kill. Only some of the machines were under the Pyramids control, so he was collecting humans for safety and building the big ass Leviathan meanwhile to combat the real threat, who I'm sure we will hear more about in the sequel. Maybe after the main threat was over he would let the humans rebuild? I don't know, I'm not saying the game is perfect but the fact the story has me sat on a messageboard thinking about it is a good thing.
#8 Posted by CptPanda29 (189 posts) -
@Vorbis: I really hope there's a sequel, we've only seen what's happened to America, I'd love to wander around the kind of communities Trip lived in and explore a bit more. Seems to be one of the main complaints that there's little to no exploration, hopefully Ninja Theory can try some other stuff out with the world. There is the whole bike riding that I was amazed wasn't a game sequence.
#9 Posted by GunstarRed (4728 posts) -
@Vorbis:
I don't  need every single point explained to me to get the story but in order to have some connection with the character I am playing I need to know more about him that  Hes a loner and can hit things with a stick. Monkey wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for Trip so him learning to trust others only really happens because he is forced into doing so. I'm meant to care for Trip and keep her safe to stay alive  but i'm never told what i'm so desperate to stay alive for. Monkey seems fine with his life, Trip only changes it for the worse. All she really seems capable of doing is ripping away everyones happiness. 
Also fake, better life,while attached to a machine after an apocalypse... is pretty similar to the matrix. It's not identical but it definately shares similarities. 
The mechs are protecting pyramid... but pyramid wants to give everyone a better life so why are the mechs always wanting to kill me? I dont want half a story where there is maybe, possibly? another threat in this world. I shouldn't be expected to assume that,You can't base a huge plot point around a sequel that will probably never get made. I should be straight up told and there is barely a hint to it anyways. 
I would like a little more backstory on the war than "no mechs" scribbled on a wall, as I said I don't need everything explained and I really like what they were trying for, I bought the game expecting a strong story over  ok gameplay and was left with huge holes and empty emotional moments that had no impact because Monkey  and Trip are nothing beyond a few almost romantic glances. So when something like the headband sequence comes up it feels hugely out of place. One minute Trip is mourning her dead dad the next minute she seems fine despite having her whole world ripped away from her. I never felt like i was meant to hate Pigsy I always felt like he was being forced on me as comic relief, and while I like that the game isnt devoid of humour a lot of it feel really out of place in the context of what has happened or what is happening on the screen.
#10 Posted by zitosilva (1837 posts) -

Regarding the story, I thought there were elements that were mostly implied through billboards a little pieced in the dialogue that lead us to understand what happened to the world. It's never explicit, and it definitely doesn't answer most of the questions, but I thought the setting was interesting enough as it was.
 
But then we have the ending. Hell, talk about disappointment. The whole matrix thing feels pretty tacked on, but I guess I'd be okay with the fact. But then, after that, it all just ends abruptly. The way it's handled, it's almost as if the most important part of the plot was killing pyramid, when, for me, that was just an afterthought. The whole thing was about Monkey's and Trip's relationship, and how it slowly evolved in a conving manner. Those dialogues, I felt, were incredible, made even better by some excellent acting. I was truly believing in those characters and their development, but suddenly all this is cut. There is no closure, nothing is satysfied. All we have is that scene in which Monkey asks for the crown to be on again, which I believe is only there so that the gameplay can still make sense (with the radio talk and the weak points showing in our view). He could very well have just said he'd still follow, enslaved or not, and the effect would still be the same.
 
I don't know. I was loving the game, but the ending was such a could blow that I no longer know how I feel. I think it's disappointing to a point that I'll probably forget about Enslaved soon, instead of regarding it quite fondly.

#11 Posted by Iwasthewalrus (1 posts) -

I actually loved the ending.  
 
I understand the similarities to the matrix, but least we not forget there isn't really such thing as a totally new idea, and almost every story is a variation of something similar. Even if the writers don't know it. The story was an adaption from the get-go, and personally I loved the ambiguity of the story. In fact, it leaves it very open for Ninja Theory to write more and expand upon the universe without dumbing everything down into a mash-up of exposition.  
 
In my experience, storytelling in video games is plagued by a massive amount of exposition, and there is usually nothing open or vague. Everything is handed to you on a silver platter and explained away in such a way that it's never truly satisfying. For example, the scene where Monkey tells her to turn the headband back on was fantastic, and it spoke worlds about his character. He isn't the strongest or most trusting person emotionally, and can't handle the idea of making the decision to stay with trip or go off on his own. Basically, it's his way of making that decision the best way he can. I can imagine Monkey and trip getting together, and he never takes the headband off because hes an emotional nutjob. He probably really looks at it as a keepsake for how they met, but of course would never say so. At least that is what I got out of it.  
 
Anyhow, in a medium rife with exposition and hand-holding, I saw the subtlety as a breath of fresh air. It may not be anything new in terms of the actual story, but it's execution was pretty bold and well done in my opinion. Think about it. If it wasn't, why are we talking about it? Even further, why are we all seemingly drooling for more details? It's because we liked it so much that we didn't want to get torn away.  
 
Initially, I hated the ending. I realized it was because I didn't want it to end. 

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