Adz Plays... Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

...told you it wouldn't be too long. XD I must admit, I wasn't quite expecting to finish Enslaved only a day after my Yakuza 4 blog. I had no trouble getting back into Enslaved and I managed to complete the remainder of the game within three and a half hours. I had a good time doing so.

Story

You play Monkey, who gets 'enslaved' by a woman called Trip. Using a slave headband, she forces Monkey to take her back to her hometown. He cannot kill her or wander too far from her, as it would result in his death. As you would expect, it's not something he's initially happy about. He begrudgingly helps her out.

The story is loosely based on 'Journey to the West', the old Chinese novel ('loosely' being the key word). It is set in post-apocalyptic Earth. The ruins of once flourishing cities are full with over-grown vegetation. Robots are all over the place. Unfortunately, none of them are friendly. This is apparently the result of a huge war. In addition, the remaining humans are being enslaved.

Overall, I found the story very enjoyable. The constant banter between the characters was pretty amusing and the pacing is nicely done. However, the ending felt a bit incomplete. It wasn't terrible, but it could have been better. It's almost as if they had further plans for it. For those of you who have already played it, I've included my full thoughts on it...

I thought the ending provided a nice little twist, with the AI offering an enjoyable life for the 'slaves' (albeit at the cost of destroying the real world). It was a little odd with Andy Serkis on the main screen, but the collectable masks hinted at something like that. The reason why it felt a bit unfinished was because it ended after Trip said 'Have I done the right thing?' without any answers. There also wasn't any real closure to Monkey and Trip's relationship, which seemed to be going somewhere midway through the game. It's a pity, but it didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of the game.

Gameplay

The exploration in the game is very similar to that of the Uncharted games. Monkey often needs to traverse across beams and climb up precarious walls. Like Uncharted, it's handled very fluidly. It's clear where you need to jump to next and it feels satisfying.

Trip cannot fend for herself, so you'll often need to clear out areas before she can advance. Her only form of defense is an EMP blast, which temporarily disables her attackers. You'll need to be quick to defeat them after that, though. You'll also need to throw her up to or across other platforms if the distance is too much for her. Despite being unable to fight, she offers assistance in the form of making mines visible, creating a decoy and providing upgrades to Monkey's stats and weapons.

Speaking of upgrades, the currency comes in the form of glowing orange orbs, so it's a good idea to collect as much as you can while you explore the areas. Upgrades include increased health, faster health regeneration, shield improvements and improvements to your weaponry. Upgrades are initially quite cheap, but they escalate quickly as you improve things.

The close-quarters combat seems to have a lot of depth. I personally didn't take advantage of the more advanced moves (such as countering), but it was easy enough for me to get by. I also didn't have any problems with the staff's projectile weapon (which has 'Plasma' or 'Stun' ammo). Not all enemies can simply be whacked to death, however. If they have a shield, you'll need to attack them from the rear or stun them. Some enemies even require 'takedowns', which is usually just a button press after dealing enough damage to them. Doing this may also give you advantage against other enemies nearby. It's possible to avoid combat entirely in some stealth sections of the game, but most of the time you'll have to deal with the threat head-on.

Later in the game, you'll also be introduced to the 'cloud', an electronic device that allows Monkey to travel across water or across land at a faster pace (I personally like this take on Journey to the West's cloud). You can only use it at certain locations. It also appears during the chase scenes.

Presentation

The graphics in the game are pretty stunning. The landscapes are beautifully rendered. Easily one of the best-looking games this generation. It is occasionally let down by the textures loading (a common feature of games using the Unreal 3 Engine), but it's not too much of a problem.

Monkey is voiced by Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings, as well as some other game roles), who does a great job. Lindsey Shaw (Trip's voice actress) is perhaps less known, but she still manages a convincing performance. Both of them also provided motion-capture data, which only helps the storytelling.

Conclusion

Enslaved is a great game. I can't think of many flaws (and the flaws it does have are pretty minor). As I've said many times before, I'm not a huge of fan of games with a lot of combat, but I had no problems with Enslaved's offering. If you do choose to play it, you'll be rewarded with a rich storyline full of action and some great acting.

As always, thanks for reading. I'll be covering another game fairly soon.

4 Comments
5 Comments
Posted by AdzPearson

...told you it wouldn't be too long. XD I must admit, I wasn't quite expecting to finish Enslaved only a day after my Yakuza 4 blog. I had no trouble getting back into Enslaved and I managed to complete the remainder of the game within three and a half hours. I had a good time doing so.

Story

You play Monkey, who gets 'enslaved' by a woman called Trip. Using a slave headband, she forces Monkey to take her back to her hometown. He cannot kill her or wander too far from her, as it would result in his death. As you would expect, it's not something he's initially happy about. He begrudgingly helps her out.

The story is loosely based on 'Journey to the West', the old Chinese novel ('loosely' being the key word). It is set in post-apocalyptic Earth. The ruins of once flourishing cities are full with over-grown vegetation. Robots are all over the place. Unfortunately, none of them are friendly. This is apparently the result of a huge war. In addition, the remaining humans are being enslaved.

Overall, I found the story very enjoyable. The constant banter between the characters was pretty amusing and the pacing is nicely done. However, the ending felt a bit incomplete. It wasn't terrible, but it could have been better. It's almost as if they had further plans for it. For those of you who have already played it, I've included my full thoughts on it...

I thought the ending provided a nice little twist, with the AI offering an enjoyable life for the 'slaves' (albeit at the cost of destroying the real world). It was a little odd with Andy Serkis on the main screen, but the collectable masks hinted at something like that. The reason why it felt a bit unfinished was because it ended after Trip said 'Have I done the right thing?' without any answers. There also wasn't any real closure to Monkey and Trip's relationship, which seemed to be going somewhere midway through the game. It's a pity, but it didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of the game.

Gameplay

The exploration in the game is very similar to that of the Uncharted games. Monkey often needs to traverse across beams and climb up precarious walls. Like Uncharted, it's handled very fluidly. It's clear where you need to jump to next and it feels satisfying.

Trip cannot fend for herself, so you'll often need to clear out areas before she can advance. Her only form of defense is an EMP blast, which temporarily disables her attackers. You'll need to be quick to defeat them after that, though. You'll also need to throw her up to or across other platforms if the distance is too much for her. Despite being unable to fight, she offers assistance in the form of making mines visible, creating a decoy and providing upgrades to Monkey's stats and weapons.

Speaking of upgrades, the currency comes in the form of glowing orange orbs, so it's a good idea to collect as much as you can while you explore the areas. Upgrades include increased health, faster health regeneration, shield improvements and improvements to your weaponry. Upgrades are initially quite cheap, but they escalate quickly as you improve things.

The close-quarters combat seems to have a lot of depth. I personally didn't take advantage of the more advanced moves (such as countering), but it was easy enough for me to get by. I also didn't have any problems with the staff's projectile weapon (which has 'Plasma' or 'Stun' ammo). Not all enemies can simply be whacked to death, however. If they have a shield, you'll need to attack them from the rear or stun them. Some enemies even require 'takedowns', which is usually just a button press after dealing enough damage to them. Doing this may also give you advantage against other enemies nearby. It's possible to avoid combat entirely in some stealth sections of the game, but most of the time you'll have to deal with the threat head-on.

Later in the game, you'll also be introduced to the 'cloud', an electronic device that allows Monkey to travel across water or across land at a faster pace (I personally like this take on Journey to the West's cloud). You can only use it at certain locations. It also appears during the chase scenes.

Presentation

The graphics in the game are pretty stunning. The landscapes are beautifully rendered. Easily one of the best-looking games this generation. It is occasionally let down by the textures loading (a common feature of games using the Unreal 3 Engine), but it's not too much of a problem.

Monkey is voiced by Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings, as well as some other game roles), who does a great job. Lindsey Shaw (Trip's voice actress) is perhaps less known, but she still manages a convincing performance. Both of them also provided motion-capture data, which only helps the storytelling.

Conclusion

Enslaved is a great game. I can't think of many flaws (and the flaws it does have are pretty minor). As I've said many times before, I'm not a huge of fan of games with a lot of combat, but I had no problems with Enslaved's offering. If you do choose to play it, you'll be rewarded with a rich storyline full of action and some great acting.

As always, thanks for reading. I'll be covering another game fairly soon.

Posted by Veektarius

I enjoyed Enslaved less than I expected to. I really appreciated the art and characters - characters seem to be Ninja Theory's strong suit, but the gameplay was way too automated for me. I would have preferred less room for error in all the platforming. I eventually hit one point where I couldn't figure out how to make a jump, and once I'd lost my momentum, didn't have a lot of urge to pick it back up again.

Posted by brownsfantb

The ending seemed finished to me. Just because a story doesn't spell out everything with it's conclusion doesn't mean it isn't finished. Inception is the best example I can think of off the top of my head. The ending of that movie can be interpreted in totally different ways that completely change how that story plays out.

Posted by AdzPearson

@Veektarius: Whilst I didn't have that problem with this game in particular, I know the feeling. It can be really off-putting when you don't know how to advance. In fact, the game I'll be covering next has that very problem. Extremely frustrating.

Yeah, Ninja Theory certainly does a good job when it comes to characters. I'm curious to see how their take on Devil May Cry turns out. I know a lot of the fans are up in arms about it, but it just might win me over if Enslaved is anything to go by.

@brownsfantb: I'm alright with some games/films having open-ended climaxes (particularly thought provoking ones), but I wanted just a bit more from it. Maybe I was expecting too much, I don't know. As I said, I don't think it was a terrible ending. I've seen worse...a LOT worse...

Posted by Gamer_152

@AdzPearson: Please try to remember discussion threads go in the forums, reviews go in the reviews section.

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