nick_verissimo's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Xbox 360) review

Enslaved: Odyssey to the west of my Heart

From the moment you boot up Ninja Theory's newest action adventure, you get the sense that you are at the beginning of something quite special. Our protagonists, Monkey and Trip are on a journey where the player is tasked with returning Trip to her home and finding out who and what is exactly behind all of the mechanised monsters that have taken over and "enslaved" the world. For the most part, the gameplay is quite solid and gives the player traversal skills are akin to that of the Prince of Persia games and the button mashy combat of the God of War games. At certain points in the action, you'll be given a mechanic to direct Trip to either follow up behind you or provide a decoy system to direct enemy fire so that Monkey can move up and get in better position to take out an enemy.

The enemies in the game are somewhat standard fare as they go from super-wimpy to demonic and the game provides an upgrade system that lets you increase your Health, Shields, Combat skills and Staff by collecting orange orbs found throughout the world and by defeating enemies. To that end, you will not be just jumping and fighting in basic hand-to-hand combat. There are sneaking sequences, that uses the decoy mechanic with Trip, certain third person shooting sequences that involve you taking out enemy turrets and gaining access to their guns systems to use them on their counterparts. There is also a gunner boat section that occurs later on in the game and does well to keep the game feeling varied.

All of these action sequences are not ground breaking, but what really sets this game apart from every other 3rd person action-adventure games is in the voice work, the motion capture usage and the way in which the narrative is conveyed between cutscenes and in game dialogue. Fronted by the very talented Andy Serkis (you'll know him from his work as Gollum in the LOTR trilogy) brings forth a solid performance that is only elevated even more by his female companion, Trip, voiced by Lindsay Shaw, who not only adequately follows Serkis, but also surpasses him at times. I unapologetically loved the 2008 Prince of Persia game and a lot of that had to do with the interaction between the "Prince" and Elika in that game. This is the closest experience I've had to that since that game and found myself having a hard time putting it down. The facial tells, bodily gestures and interaction between the two really made the game something much, much more worthwhile than it probably could have been as despite the top notch story telling, the game has its weak points.

At many times the camera work is shoddy and hurts your abilities in combat and the jumping sequences get a little confusing. The story itself has been done as it based on the Journey to the West fairy tale in which the dragonball manga/anime is loosely based on (you even get a future "nimbus" to use in this game!). The ending is somewhat confusing and sort of a let down based on the compelling nature in which the narrative was moving through the earlier portions of the game. Without giving too much away, there are masks you collect in the game world that show you glimpses of the old world, before the wasteland existed, and ties into the end of game cutscene that leaves a little to be desired. None the less, the ending is not all terrible and in some way could set up a sequel to this game, although, I've heard the game has not sold all too well, so that could be nothing more than a pipe dream.

The game took me about 7-8 hours while playing it on the hardest difficulty on my one and only playthrough. If you didn't collect them all, then you can go back to collect all of the orbs to round out levelling up Monkey, as well as the masks in order to see more of the old world before it was a wasteland. For no other reason but achievement hunting, playing the game a second time isn't all that necessary as you will see and do absolutely everything in your first playthrough as the game is linear as hell. Given all of these things, this is a game that is definitely worth playing at least once and is a very worthwhile game to check out despite it's problems. It's currently 40 dollars and is a very good price point given the time it takes you to playthrough it and I definitely hope all of you give it a chance!

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