In Enslaved, no one says, "Goddamit, Colonel! We have to get the appropriately coloured keys to the correct laser-powered control panels before the reactor heats up above its maximum core temperature and blows this place sky high, or we'll all end up deader than fried chicken!" for example.
Compare another action-adventure based on original IP and released this year - Alan Wake (yes, we're really going there). That game also represented a bold attempt to tell a proper storyline with a proper script.
Unfortunately the attempt failed, partly because the writing wasn't good enough and partly because the game didn't trust the player to experience tension without being told it was time to. Alan's constant commentary on the action quickly became grating, and conveyed his feelings less effectively than Monkey's gruff grunts and sideways looks.
Perhaps most of all, Enslaved didn't ask as much of me as so many of the other games I played this year. It didn't insist I interact with people online. It didn't demand I buy a new controller. It didn't reach its full potential only with the addition of alcohol or small children. It never required me to wave my arms or kick my legs or hit imaginary balls. It didn't even ask me to stand up.
I just sat on the sofa, on my own, pressing some buttons and quietly enjoying myself for several hours at a time.
I didn't mind too much about the formulaic gameplay, the silly upgrade system or the dull on-rails sections. I didn't care that the game offered little in the way of challenge. I enjoyed button-mashing my way through fights. I liked being able to run, jump and swing around environments without fear of falling.
What conclusions can we draw from this? That I'm lazy, of course. This is a fair point considering the most exercise I've had in the last 12 months is trying to beat a six year-old girl at Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. (She won.)
More importantly, that Enslaved has enough good stuff going for it to make it possible to overlook the game's flaws. For me, that good stuff includes an engaging storyline, a credible script, quality acting, excellent pacing and a superb score.
And yes, the gameplay. It may be familiar but it's well-designed and solid, making for a fluid, satisfying and rarely frustrating gaming experience. I don't always want to perform pixel-perfect jumps or learn complex fighting combos. Sometimes I just want to press a button to make the man punch the robot in the face.
So I like Enslaved, enough to make it my game of the year. You can find it online for less than 20 quid now, and if you missed out back in October I highly recommend a purchase. Mind you, come Boxing Day it won't entertain your toddling nephew and tottery old gran half as much as Just Dance 2.
Will you support Eurogamer?
We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.