George Prax's picture
George Prax's picture

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Among all the big sequels coming this fall, including the Rock Bands, the Call of Dutys and Fallouts and Fables, there's a little game that kind of sneaked in there this fall called "Enslaved: Odyssey to the West". It's gotten a fair amount of good attention from websites, reviewers, etc, because it's an original IP at a time when most developers are satisfied with putting out a game that will simply sell copies because of it's name and the previous games attached to it.

Enslaved, developed by Heavenly Sword makers Ninja Theory, have decided to try and make a new game and sell based on what seems to be a growing trend in the industry at the moment, storyline over gameplay.

And in terms of storyline, "Enslaved" definitely delivers. In fact, if I was rating this as a movie, and based on its storytelling, facial expressions, voice acting and plot, this would be an easy 10 out of 10. Obviously video games have somewhat of a different purpose, so that can't be the case, but you get the idea. Ninja Theory creates a post-apocalyptic world where the actual apocalypse doesn't matter. Set 200 years after a world-ending event, the characters struggle to survive in a world where slave ships scoop up survivors for unknown reasons, and robot warriors called "mechs" plague nearly every street corner and every camp.

For Trip, the female character in the game, the reasons behind all of this don't matter. All she wants to do is escape the "slavers" and get home to her father in their camp. For the character you control, Monkey, life really doesn't have a meaning. Your only purpose is to survive, upgrade your weapons and trade. Until Trip comes along, of course, and forces you to wear a headband that "enslaves" you to her. If her heart stops beating, your heart stops beating. If you disobey her, she kills you. So you have to do what she says.

But Trip's smarts and computer skills, mixed with Monkey's climbing and combat skills actually make a really good combo, and they venture through a destroyed (but beautiful looking) New York to venture west and find Trip's family. Once they get there and realize that mechs/slavers have killed everyone at Trip's home - about half the game - Trip and Monkey decide to venture further west to find who did this, with the help of a portly friend named Pigsy. They eventually find him, fly west where they find a giant mech that they take control of, and venture further to find the "Pyramid" that symbolically seems to be source of all the slave ships. What happens there I will not spoil, but an ambiguous but well told ending leaves the story open to both interpretation as well as DLC and sequels.

It's the little moments in the game, the cut scenes and the interactions between the characters, that really make this unique.

But the game suffers from too many comparisons - Fallout, Final Fantasy, Heavenly Sword, Uncharted. The game definitely takes a lot from all these sources, and uses them well to create a beautiful and polished world (for a multi-platform game it looks really good, maybe not as good as an Uncharted 2 or God of War, but nevertheless), a great story and fun gameplay.

As for the meat of this game, the gameplay, it's passable. Combat is pretty varied, between hacking/slashing with Monkey's staff, to some gunplay and Monkey's plasma staff. You can sneak by a lot of segments and there are some puzzles to go through. Get by on foot, by climbing or on Monkey's electric surfboard thing. There's a lot of cool stuff here, but nothing really that original that we haven't seen before, and nothing overly challenging.

The biggest negative for Enslaved is that it suffers from being incredibly linear. For such a beautiful world that could hold so many possibilities, there's only one way to go in every level in every situation. A more dynamic story or level design would have been interesting.

In terms of gameplay, you never feel a sense of danger for your characters. While at times you have to scramble to save Trip, there really isn't anything overly hard in this game. There are lots of invisible walls and unlike Uncharted, Monkey can't die by simply jumping off the wrong place. There are a few fights that might take you a few tries to beat on hard, but otherwise, this game is pretty easy.

Moreover, annoying orbs and seemingly pointless masks that you have to collect kind of take away from the pace of the game.

But there is a lot of good here. And we have to support the smaller developers and the original IPs in a time where too many mediocre games are dominating the sales charts. This isn't a perfect game, but if I had to compare it to anything, it would be a polished version of Uncharted 1. With a story that's just as good, slightly improved graphics, some new gameplay mechanics and hopefully a more dynamic possibility for storytelling and even in the gameplay, a sequel could very well be a near perfect game.

I encourage everyone to check this out, as if there was ever a game that deserved DLC and sequels, it was Enslaved.

7.9 out of 10, go check this one out!

George Prax's picture

Next up:

Undead Nightmare for Red Dead Redemption which I should get done.

Also might backtrack to my last couple of games this year and review Mafia 2 and the DeathSpank games, but only if you're good and post comments Smile

Anonymous's picture

I'll also be posting reviews on Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, as well as Borderlands and Lost Planet 2.

George Prax's picture

Can't wait for those. All three are games I've been on the fence about for a while now.

Anonymous's picture

I'm all about the 2 player coop games.

George Prax's picture

And since I reviewed this today... just announced that DLC for Enslaved is coming out later this year with the story focusing around one of the characters you meet later in the game, Pigsy:


Ninja Theory’s stunning and spectacular Enslaved: Odyssey to the West--one of 2010’s best overlooked games--is set to receive two rather significant add-ons in the form of new story-based downloadable content and the addition of 3D support.

The DLC, entitled Pigsy’s Perfect 10, tells its own side story in which players assume the role of the swine-ish, grapple hook-handed, titular third wheel who plays a crucial, if emotionally conflicted, role in Enslaved stars Monkey and Trip’s journey. In this humorous tale, Pigsy attempts to build a female companion out of the plethora of spare parts found in his junkyard.

Because Pigsy relies primarily on stealth and long-ranged attacks, thanks to his beloved sniper rifle, the gameplay will be decidedly different than the hand-to-mech-face gameplay of Enslaved. Pigsy’s hookshot should also expand the game’s platforming elements as well. And in keeping with Enslaved’s emphasis on partner dynamics, Pigsy will be accompanied by his mech sidekick Truffles.
The DLC will also introduce 3D support for the entire game compliments of a TriOviz for Games Technology update. If you have a 3D-enabled TV, you can play in 3D using Stereo 3D Active Shutter glasses, and if you have a 2D HDTV, you’ll need a pair of TriOviz INFICOLOR 3D glasses, which should go on sale before the end of the year.

Pigsy’s Perfect 10 will be available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later this year for $9.99/800 Microsoft Points.

Read more:

REALLY excited for this and it will be on my PS3 on day one.

Anonymous's picture

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

While the game itself does seem to be behind the times in terms of a first person shooter (the cover system that was introduced is decent, but the lack of grenades is a tad unfortunate, even though they replace them with the ability to throw gas cans and extinguishers), the game's story line and presentation give you a more realistic visual than anything. The storyline is intriguing, albeit violent, and you're forced to kill everything in your path.

The one thing that holds this game back is its lack of length. After increasing the difficulty to maximum, the game has a brief system for its opposition, and thus you can work your way through the game in under 20 hours of playing time. I specifically play co-op games, and comparing this one to the likes of the RPG-ish style of Borderlands - which definitely gives you your monies worth in game-time - it certainly lacks. That said, the enjoyment of running through levels and shooting at everything definitely makes the game enjoyable. There's even an achievement in the campaign mode for 1000 kills. Yeah.

It's a simplistic game. There are no missions. The entire game itself is a mission, and there are no boss battles or time limit levels (aside from the ending). You're not forced to try and stop a bomb or anything, you just run and gun.

If you're looking for a dark-content game than what is typically presented (war super soldiers), and you enjoy suspense-filled crime games, this one is for you. It certainly is an improvement from the first game and the characters are interesting, but in length of game-play, you can be left wanting more. Who knows, maybe that's what they were hoping for.

7.0 out of 10

George Prax's picture

20 hours seems pretty good for an FPS. Borderlands is an RPG which is probably why its so much longer and it's open world. Considering how many 10 hours games I've played this year that are single player, that actually sounds pretty decent TBH.

Might check it out once it drops in price.

Anonymous's picture

It's worth the gameplay, as the storyline is interesting enough to keep you hooked. It's complicated in a few spots kill-wise, so it has you repeating levels over and over but its save-points really do help, although if you quit halfway through a level, you have to replay the entire level.

Anonymous's picture

Pop-Up Pursuit - WiiWare:

Pop-Up Pursuit could be one of the most artistic games the WiiWare selection has to offer. For those who enjoy board games (albeit a simple one) and enjoy spending time with the family, this game is certainly one to jump at. While it only presents two different maps (or boards), it is creative enough with its progression and attacks on your competition to make the game enjoyable through and through. While the game is specifically card-based with coins playing a significant factor at the end of the game, the ability to transition the game at a moments click allows players to still have a chance to win until the very end of the game. Unfortunately, if you're looking for anything more than just a simplistic point and click board game, you'll want to avoid this game. Simply clicking a card, then selecting which card you'd like to use and clicking A four or five times until your turn is over is about as active as the game gets.

Rating: 6/10