I heard about Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for the first time at the beginning of this year. I didn’t really know much about it from the small paragraph preview in Playstation Magazine, but the story and setting sounded interesting. If you haven’t heard, the story is set 150 years in the future and revolves around a character named Monkey who is enslaved when Trip, a technologically proficient young girl, puts a mechanical headband on him for her protection. The headband ensures that Monkey will keep Trip alive because if she dies the headband will kill Monkey, and they are in an extremely hostile environment. That’s a pretty darn good set up for an action game. Now, up until recently I had only heard about the game, but with the recent release of the demo on the Playstation Network, I was able to see the game in action, and now, I can’t wait for this game. Here are a few reasons why.
1. It’s a Gorgeous Game
Just look at this game. It’s set in the post apocalypse, but instead of going the route of Fallout 3 or Borderlands, this game seems to take its cues from Uncharted. That’s a pretty awesome approach to post apocalyptic ruin. The cities have been taken over by lush jungle and vegetation, and it all looks hopeful until you zoom out a bit and realize you’re not in a jungle; you’re in New York City. It also contrasts with the tone of the game; it’s after the world as we, the players, know it has ended, but it’s just so beautiful to see.
(This is the first level)
(This looks outstanding...oh the girl, she's nice too)
2. The Platforming
The platforming in Enslaved seems to be the sort you’d expect from an action game on this generation of consoles. Like games in the style of Uncharted, Infamous, God of War, Assassins Creed, and Prince of Persia, you see objects that you can grab onto, and you jump to grab them until you reach the destination (usually the top of the building, wall etc.), but what makes this game look special are two things: the speed and precision with which Monkey traverses the obstacles in his environment and the set pieces that have been revealed so far while you’re doing the platforming. For example, in the first level of the game, Monkey has to climb up the side of an enormous airship while it’s crashing and make sure he gets up to the top before the ship crashes into a dilapidated building. This looks simply breathtaking and seems to move with the same grace that Monkey employs in the combat.
(He makes it look so easy)
(But I'm sure it won't be)
3. The Combat Looks Awesome
Speaking of which, the combat looks to be outstanding, and considering that Ninja Theory’s last game was Heavenly Sword, we can probably safely assume that it will be. The players will take control of Monkey, a tough loner, to combat the robots that were left over from a mysterious war. Trip refers to them as Slavers, but from what has been released, there is no clear answer as to where they came from. Trip asks Monkey, “Why do they want to kill us?” Monkey puts it quite bluntly, “It’s all they know.” In other words, there is no reasoning with these things, they are designed to do one thing: kill humans. Monkey is extremely acrobatic, and it shows in the combat. He jumps, flips, and rolls with a grace that other action game heroes don’t have.
(Is there anything this guy can't do?)
The game looks like it’s going to follow the hack and slash formula and have some light character progression, but it’s not the mechanics that make it look outstanding, it’s the way they’re delivered. Monkey flows with the same grace in the combat that he employs in the platforming making the end result look outstanding. All in all both the platforming and action seem amazingly polished and look incredibly fun, and that seems to be the key between these two gameplay mechanics: they aren’t incredibly innovative; they look like they’re polished in a way that makes this game looks outstanding.
(Hopefully this means they will add platforming puzzles to the combat)
When early previews of Enslaved went up, a lot of people were pretty vocal about their skepticism of a game that seemed to be built around the idea of escorting a character who was unable to defend herself throughout the entire game. To be honest, it didn’t seem like the most fun idea in the world, but after reading more and more previews and finally seeing some of the gameplay, I really think the Monkey-Trip dynamic looks like a lot of fun. Trip’s tech savvy characteristics allow Monkey to upgrade his melee weapons, eventually giving him some ranged attacks that add some cover shooter mechanics to the mix. Also, she has a robotic dragonfly that can scout out enemies’ locations before you have to fight them. This looks like it will allow for more varied battle strategies and give more opportunities for the player to change it up throughout the game.
(Looks like she'll be upgrading Monkey's weapons with this)
Also, the relationship between Monkey and Trip will obviously be strained (she did enslave him after all), so it should be interesting to see how the relationship will evolve between the two. Monkey looks a good bit older than Trip, so I’m hoping for a father-daughter relationship rather than a love interest situation just because that’s been done so many times, and it would be nice to see something a bit different. Trip seems to be an interesting element in the game, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ninja Theory do with her.
(Hopefully this is indicative of how the gameplay will be prioritized)
5. The Enemies
Most games throw the same cookie cutter enemies at the player over and over again. Some games don’t even bother to throw much imagination into them after a point. The developers create enough to keep things interesting most of the time, but they have the same 5 to 10 enemy types for the player to fight, and that’s it. Now, I don’t think that Enslaved will be too different from that formula; however, I do think that we will all be a lot more wowed by these enemies. The robot slavers look like they’re going to be an extremely diverse set of enemies. The designs look outstanding, and if you look at the video at the end of the gameplay demo, you’ll see that the bosses look to be just as diverse.
(Looks pretty creepy)
(Might have to start praying on this one)
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West looks like it’s going to be a pretty outstanding game visually and be extremely solid mechanically. It seems a little strange that Namco haven’t put more into advertising for this particular title. It sure seems like they put quite a bit of money into making it. Hopefully the game will be as fun as it looks, and I can’t wait to play it.
Also, here's the URL to the demo; it's in two parts. Watch the end of part 2 for the shots of the boss.
Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU0DsBR9178
Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=iv&v=ox5B6MgNSWM&annotation_id=annotation_638738
And if you just want the trailer its at: 7:50 in part 2.