Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review
Developed by the same team that created Heavenly Sword, developer Ninja Theory shows off all the goodies the Unreal Engine 3 can give us. Even though the visuals are something we can commonly find on our handheld games today, it was still a treat to see none the less.
Enslaved takes the typical, post-apocalyptic setting and mixed in a variety of steam punk and futuristic, science fiction for its world. But as gorgeous as the world may look, the characters and their dialog is what stole the show for me.
The main character named Monkey who refuses to wear a shirt throughout the entire game and appears to have a tail but really doesn’t, is portrayed by none other than Andy Serkis, who has appeared in huge blockbuster films such as Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
It was a real treat to get the chance to see him in action again after his astonishing performance in both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and his latest film, The Hobbit. While the story may not have been a big hit for me, the voice acting crew really kept me drawn into the game while the oddly put together story elements kind of pushed me away at times.
The game itself kicks off after you, playing as Monkey, make a desperate, and humorous, escape off of a crashing slave ship. After being knocked unconscious from your dangerous fall from the ship, a mysterious woman clamps a headband onto you that allows her to control Monkey. The worst part of it all: if she dies, you die.
Her wish is simple in itself, yet painstakingly annoying as the game wears on. She wants you to help and protect her from the dangers of the world while she makes her way across the Wasteland and back to her home.
Playing as Monkey is very interesting though. When in action, you can rely on the gadgets and strength Monkey already had in his arsenal prior to meeting Trip, the mystery woman, yet thanks to your headband stuck to your head, you can also utilize all of Trip’s various abilities.
You can command Trip to upgrade your own shields, staff, combat abilities, and health. Or you can use her to detect mines, enemy mechs and turrets, or help you get past various different obstacles.
But the levels soon begin to feel very, very repetitive as the game drags on, forcing you to detect mines and turrets, carry Trip through certain areas and be forced to help her get through many parts of the game which was extremely annoying, and you’ll have to use the same set of tactics over and over again to get from point A to B.
The few puzzles you’ll run into in the game aren’t anything mind boggling either and are usually just asking you to pull a lever here and there, which will in turn raise a platform, and then you repeat the process until some sort of pathway has been formed to get by an obstacle in the level.
But controlling your character is a blast. Whether you’re climbing the side of a building or jumping from platform to platform, the game does a decent job of letting you feel in control of your actions and motions. If you do make a minor mistake or misstep, you can quickly get back into the game thanks to a decent checkpoint system.
As far as combat goes, things are just as kinetic, but the variety of foes you’ll face begin to grow old fast. The primary enemies you’ll face throughout your adventure will be mechs that may come in a few different type of models, but the way you fight them will never change.
Monkey has several different abilities to fend for himself though, including an upgradeable staff that can be used in sword-like fashion, or it can be used as a temporary shield against enemy attacks or even used to fire plasma bolts at enemies from afar.
Enslaved is a peculiar game that caught my fancy the moment I jumped into it thanks to its mysterious world and well voiced characters. I was hellbent on trying to figure out what the heck was going on and what happened to this post-apocalyptic United States. If you love a good science fiction tale, even though the way it is put together may seem a bit sub-par to some, you’ll feel right at home with this game.