Ninja Theory is back again with another action adventure game, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. As you all know the fact that Ninja Theory are the people who developed one of the finest and earliest games on the PlayStation 3, Heavenly Sword. And much like it, Enslaved feels like a block buster action movie and unfortunately it’s over even before you know. Enslaved tells the player the story of Trip, a beautiful looking and red headed women, who is pretty much similar to Nariko, and Monkey, which as the name suggests plays like a monkey.
Enslaved takes place 150 years in a post-apocalyptic world plagued with robots. Although they are from a bygone era, their mission is to completely destroy any signs of life on the planet. The storyline is inspired by the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West. The game starts off with Monkey and Trip aboard an airship which for some reason is about to crash. Via a number of platforming sections Monkey makes it across and lands safely on ground. But when he wakes up, he founds out that Trip has embedded a headband on his head with help of which she can command him. Trip wants to meet his father who is 300 miles away but she can’t reach there alone and will require Monkey to help her get across. After realizing he has no choice Monkey aides Trip to her destiny. Overall I think the story of Enslaved is told pretty well via a number of cutscenes that take place in each of the 14 chapters that you are going to encounter.
Now let’s talk about the game play. You are going to be doing three things in the game. Platforming, fighting off against mechs and coordinating with Trip to get out of certain situations and puzzles. Platforming is basically very much similar to games like Uncharted and Assassins Creed, so to be honest there is nothing to add here, except the fact that it can get a bit challenging in the last few chapters. Monkey is a pretty acrobatic character and he can jump at greater distances as compared to other folks like Nathan Drake and Ezio. The areas are absolutely huge in the game so Ninja Theory have added a scanner in the form of a mechanical dragon fly which will scan the area and let you know where exactly you have to reach.
Combat is the heart of the game. Most of the time you will be fighting off against mechs and trust me they are not a piece of cake. But fortunately Monkey has a Staff that acts as a close combat weapon as well a shooting device to stun and blow up enemies. The mechs vary in all sizes; some will take more than just lashing to take them out. The mechs are agile and quick, they can follow you over long distances if you don’t take them out early. Most of the mechs have shield with them and hence a direct attack won’t work. In this case Monkey will have to first stun them and take them out via his Staff. There are a few huge mechs as well. You will face them much later in the game. Some of scenes that take place during this boss fights are epic. You will have to stun them and take them out. You will also have to use the environments and lure them to bang their heads. Scattered around the beautiful world of Enslaved are the orbs. By collecting this, player can upgrade Monkey’s health, shield, staff and combat skills. I was very glad that Ninja Theory included these, as without them the combat could have been a bit bland.
In certain situations, Trip and Monkey will have to coordinate with each other to get themselves out of tricky scenarios. For example in one the scenes the player needs to get out of the sight of the Turret. For this the player will need Trip to distract the Turret so that Monkey can get across. Now in order to get Trip across, Monkey will have to do the same thing. Monkey can carry Trip on his back and jump over distances, help Trip get over a platform or throw over large distance. Additionally Monkey can use his Cloud, an electromagnetic field that can carry him over poisonous waters and normally inaccessible environments in the game. However it is available to the player only during some sections. Game play in general is pretty neat but the camera during some of the mech fights is horrible. The camera gets so bad in some situations that I was almost unable to see where Monkey is.
Ninja Theory are known for making amazing looking games and Enslaved does not disappoint. Enslaved looks absolutely stunning with an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic world and colourful environments. Numerous times I just put my controller down, seeing how beautiful the art design is. But the peak point of the game is the amazing motion capture. Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw who reprised the roles of Monkey and Trip respectively have done an amazing job. Andy Serkis specially puts in some amazing face based gestures. There are not a lot of people you are going to meet in the game, but there is one I should mention. There is one really funny guy who is Trip’s father’s friend, Pigsy. Enslaved was getting a bit bland for me somewhere in the middle, until this guy showed up. Again the motion capture for Pigsy is excellent. Sound is something I am pretty disappointed about. Some sections of the game felt absolutely bland due to lack of music or the ongoing sound which was pretty bad. I am not sure why this aspect of the game went missing as Ninja Theory did a great job with the score in Heavenly Sword. Voice acting is pretty solid and gets the story moving forward.
So how good is Enslaved? It’s pretty good. If you can get pass through some awful camera during mech fights and discouraging sound, there is a lot of fun to be had here. It’s pretty short, took me around 8 hours for my first play through. But if you like a good story, an interesting couple and some cool looking mech takedowns than Enslaved should be in your list.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Amazing Motion Capture, Stunning sense of scale and Environments, Excellent Voice Acting, Take Downs are pretty cool, Cloud chases are tense and exciting, Battle against mechs are engaging, Story is well told
Sound is a big letdown; Bit too short, Ending will leave you wanting for more, Controls are a bit loose sometimes; Camera during fight sequences is bad
Enslaved just like Heavenly Sword feels like a Hollywood blockbuster movie but it ends even before you even know.