Going into Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West I knew that it got a lot of praise for its combat system, so I was very excited to experience it myself when its turn came in my Gamefly que. For the most part the game held up to the hype I think. It could have used a little more in the way of innovation, but all the same a good game.
My first hour with the game was very promising, you can check out my thoughts on that here. The game starts off well enough, slowly introducing you to more gameplay elements as you find out more about the story. The game takes place sometime in the future where a ravaged Earth has forced its inhabitants to live a more primitive lifestyle in fear of the dangerous mechanical drones that seek to enslave the population. You play as a lone wolf type character named Monkey, who runs into a girl named Trip after being captured by a slave ship. Trip is looking for a way to get back to her home and has… wait for it…. enslaved Monkey with a mind control headband that is used to control the slave ships crew members. This device links the two, and Trip, due to her inability to fight the mechanical creatures, has promised to take it off Monkey when she reaches home.
The link between the two characters brings in various types of teamwork based gameplay that require both characters to work together to get through successfully. For instance, both characters have a distraction tactic that needs to be manipulated to get one another to cover from enemy fire. Help me, help you. Puzzles in the game also require the player to control both characters actions and positioning to solve. This reminded me a lot of Prince of Persia: Sand of Time’s use of two characters, except with the player controlling both characters. It’s mostly used for lever pulling and door and path operations, but there are a few very interesting puzzles that require some thinking. One thing I wish the game pushed a bit more is the protection of Trip in combat, but at the same time I’m glad because it would make the game much more difficult as the enemies towards the games end were very tough without it.
The games combat system is fun. It uses a lock on style with combo based attacks that suites the game well. Combat becomes button mashy at times, but mostly due to frustration with the shields and various attacks the enemies use towards the end of the game. Monkey uses a boa staff as his weapon, that can be used to shoot enemies with both an explosive and EMP based ammo. Switching between the two types of ammo is easy, and is often required to best defeat incoming enemies. Ammo is well spread out so that you understand that it is valuable, but are not afraid to use it in moderation. In melle combat you mix high and low attacks to perform combos, and add in blocking and dodging to stay alive.
I found the games upgrade system very fun and interesting. You can upgrade Monkey’s Health, Shield, Melle Combat, and Range Attack using skill orbs obtained by defeating enemies and exploring the map. Upgrades add improved damage and modify basic abilities to make them more useful. This brings great synergy to the combat system by having specific combos that you will look to perform on specific types and groups of enemies. This system can be used to customize the way you like to play. Favoring melle to ranged upgrades will give you quite a bit more options up close, or neglecting health upgrades to make your shield more powerful would also changes your combat tactics considerably.
Moving around in the games environment was difficult at times, but for the most part was on par with similar games. There were a few spots where I couldn’t get the character to do what the game wanted me to do, leaving me hoping back and forth from one point to another. This was always easily remedied by just trying again, but proved to be frustrating at times.
The games visuals were at times very pretty, but until you get use to controlling the camera will make your head spin at times. In my opinion the camera follows too closely, making turning the camera feel very dramatic and blurring your view as it spins around the character. There is also a level of jankyness in the games environments, but for the most part the visuals work well. The sound in this game leaves something to be desired though. At times there are full actions that come with no corresponding sound. I’m not sure if this is just a miss que in the games engine or the ladder, but it was unfortunately very noticeable. When a large piece of metal falls to the ground without so much as a clang, it tends to look a little odd.
Overall, I thought the game was fun and entertaining, but lacked in originality, and in some minor cases quality. I would suggest this game to anyone who likes the Prince of Persia or Assassins’ Creed style of game.
Game Review Score – Enslaved : Odyssey to the West
- Gameplay and Mechanics – .75 out of 1
- Visuals and Sound – .5 out of 1
- Value and Enjoyment – .75 out of 1
- Story and Execution – .5 out of 1
- Overall Presentation – .75 out of 1
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