Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Reader Review
I got my copy of Enslaved free, simple as that. Won it with the GAME lucky gamer they are running this Christmas.
I remember seeing the ads on TV for it and thought another 3rd person action game, looks interesting enough, I'll get it when its cheap!
Oh Boy, what a ride I can safely say after just finishing it off tonight.
Yeah, it has some decent voice talent (Andy Serkis for one - Golum from LOTR and also Inkheart, not forgetting his cameo near the end and his part in directing Enslaved. Co written by Alex Garland of 28 Days Later fame and music composed by Nitin Sawhney who has numerous music awards under his belt)
Then take the classic Asian tale Journey to the West about a Budhist Monk taking a pilgramage to India. Mix it all up and put it in a post apocalype time period and you are all set.
Excerpt from Wikipedia :
"The novel is a fictionalised account of the mythologized legends around the Buddhist monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India (known as the Western Regions) during the Tang dynasty in order to obtain Buddhist religious texts called sūtras. The Bodhisattva Guan Yin, on instruction from the Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang's steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins."
So without further waffling on, is it actually any good?
The story starts with an escape, a young woman who will from now on be known as Trip. She gets loose from her holding cell on a slave ship, does some tinkering and all hell breaks loose. This lets loose another prisoner, Monkey. At this point it is run down corridors and learn the combat and acrobatics basics, it serves as a decent little tutorial to get you into the swing of things. You escape the ship with a highly amusing cutscene to wake up and find yourself under the control of Trip. She has gone and put a slave headband on you to get you to do her bidding. Now the story really starts.
From here you will venture out into 14 chapters of mechanoid destruction, work with Trip to survive and eventually meet an odd character in the form of Pigsy on the way.
The world itself is similar to the History channel documentaries Life after People. Anyone see those ? Once Human Beings are gone how nature will take over and destroy what we have built? So you get grassland, trees and various flora and fauna growing everywhere. This is what we have here, it starts out in New York working your way through deserts and mountain tops. Each area of the game has its own style and some beautiful vistas if you actually take the time to stop and look. Viewing distance is extremely far and looks awesome, look over the edge and you will see drops down into canyons with rivers running through them. The only niggle I have found with some of the scenery is that it doesnt move at all. Its completely rigid even when you run through it. Bit more of an organic feel would have just added that little extra.
The cutscenes (except the Epilogue) are kept short, you arnt waiting around for to long before getting back into the fray. This gives you little bits of the story as you head back to Trips home. Then moving onto taking down the main protagonist of the game. Some of these scenes are highly amusing especially later in the game with Pigsy, there is some real character in the facial animations and the voice acting is second to none.
Puzzles are easily solved and usually involve Trip or Monkey flicking a switch to move some platforms or pillars to make moving forward possible, it is a little on the rails at times. Also the platform type bits where you have to make your way up a tower or building tends to hold your hand throughout the game. The next grab point has a shimmer to it and it is impossible to actually fall, so you are just going through the motions.
Combat it simple but enjoyable, when you face off against enemies one button makes you roll in a direction, another for a normal attack and a third is used for a heavy attack and a fourth button for a kill move which pops up occasionally. There is no major combos, you can do a spin / knockback attack by pressing 2 buttons on your controller, same goes for a lethal charged up focus attack. You can also shoot plasma bolts from your staff that stun enemies and another type to destroy enemies or take out certain things later in the game. Keep it simple and fluid to help the flow of things. The mechs themselves arnt that varied, there are only about 10 different types within the entire game, each one giving out a different type of challenge to take down. Some of the heavier mechs you meet later on i found spin attack to knockback, hit them with a charged shot to stun the open up with a mixed barrage. Can get quite hairy later in the game when you are attacked by a few different combinations of mechs!
Once you get past the first chapter you will notice glowing orange orbs dotted all over the place. These are kind of like currency, once you get a few chapters in Trip can upgrade your weapons, health and shields by spending the orbs. This does enhance combat giving you the mentioned focus attack, up and replen your health and give extra power to your shields. Alongside the orbs you will notice glowing white faces which lets you see little snippets of today, you actually find out what they are there for at the end. You can actually keep track of what there are in a level via the chapter select on the title screen, so you will know if you have missed something if you are a trophy / achievement hunter.
The only minor downside to the game is at times the framerate can get a little choppy when there is a lot onscreen or when you are seeing something far off in the distance. Whether this is down to the Unreal engine I dont know as Batman AA runs just fine. However, it doesnt break the game or ruin the ambience.
So, Enslaved, get it, simple as that. From the moment it starts to when you are watching the final epilogue it will keep you hooked. If you love your 3rd person action / adventure type games in the mold of Uncharted (Been trying to avoid mentioning that throughout as I love those games also) you cant go wrong. Granted, the game seems a little short with about 11 hours play on normal skill level, however it is money well spent regardless of the price you pay for it. There is also DLC available in Pigsys Perfect 10 which I will be grabbing next week to add even more life into a fantastic game.
Roll on a follow up, Enslaved is a great new IP that can go from strength to strength in the hands of Ninja Theory. This game should be in everyones collection. We are always wanting something new and here it is, a definate step in the right direction for new licenses.