Game Review – Enslaved Odyssey to the West

 

 

Publisher: NAMCO

Photo courtesy of NAMCO

 

Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Game Rating: T-Teen

Review Rating: 7 out of 10; BUY

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is the follow-up game to Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword. 150 years in the future, Mankind is struggling to stay alive. The remaining humans are hunted and enslaved. When a slave ship crashes in New York, the only survivors are Trip and Monkey. Trip is a tech-savvy young woman from a tribe that has remained hidden while robots rule the earth. You play as Monkey, a big, burly fighter with acrobatic skill. To increase her chances of survival, Trip enslaves Monkey to ensure he will protect her as they travel across the treacherous landscape to find a way back to Trip’s people, fighting off mechs along the way. The story is well-told and integrates nicely with the game-play.

Enslaved is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Instead of going for the typical dust-bowl landscape we’re used to seeing from so many games, players are immersed in a lush, green environment which reminds me of the History Channel’s Life After People. Steel, concrete and brick crumble under the oppression of nature, as plants scale structures. The destabilized structures also provide a great environment for the platforming aspects of the game, adding that bit of danger when you realize your hand-hold is crumbling under your weight. Quite simply, the game is gorgeous.

Photo courtesy of NAMCO

 

Another fantastic aspect of Enslaved is the facial recognition. A lot of effort has been put into the character design and motion capture to add an additional feeling of realism. A prime example is the inclusion of Andy Serkis, of Lord of the Rings fame, who lends himself to Enslaved for the facial and motion capture, as well as the voice of Monkey. In addition, he puts his considerable talents to good use as co-director of the cut scenes.

In terms of the actual game-play, the game is fun. It combines strategic planning and combat, platforming and hack & slash with a dash of shooter game-play. The companion aspect with Trip is done well. While your primary mission is to protect her, Enslaved doesn’t make it feel like a babysitting job. The companion aspect is a welcome interactive experience, providing necessary assistance to get through the game. The fighting is not especially difficult, but the developers have done a great job mixing in different types of game-play to prevent the game from becoming too monotonous.

Sadly, it’s not all good for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Somehow, the game has not been able to avoid dreaded hang-ups. There are more than a few instances when you will find yourself stuck in the background, forcing you to move back before you can continue forward. Hanging on a piece of scaffolding when hopping from one piece to the next is a sure way to be removed from the gaming experience. Another issue is physical interaction with Trip. Too many times you will find yourself walking into and around Trip in order to find just the right stance to toss her to the next level.

To find out more about Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, visit Namco’s Official Site.