Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Late October and early November has seen the release of far too many games I want to play. Alas, with only so much money to spend and time to play I had to be selective. So Fable III and Vanquish will have to wait while I play through Fallout New Vegas and Enslaved.

I finished playing Enslaved last week. It was pretty short. Took me about 6-8 hours to complete. The gameplay was fairly standard and didn’t include any mechanics I haven’t seen before. But still, it enchanted me and I would recommend picking it up.

I’m not someone who is usually captured by graphics – a nice looking game is appreciated but if the gameplay isn’t there then does it matter? But Enslaved’s vivid and verdant post-apocalyptic environment really is beautiful. It also made a welcome change to the grays of Fallout’s wasteland! The world of Enslaved is one that has become over-grown with plant life in the decades following a war with robots. Humans are sparse but these robots are plentiful. And homicidal. You play as Monkey, a gruff and athletic protaganist who is “enslaved” by a woman called Trip. She wants you to help her get home and the story unfolds from there. And the story is where this game really shines!

The story is very loosely based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West and was co-written by Alex Garland. Gameplay is a mix of platforming, combat and a little bit of puzzle-solving – certainly fun but not revolutionary and not the games main selling point. It’s the games atmosphere, environment and slowly developing story that draws you in. The characters are well written and animated. It is difficult to not to start feeling empathy for them. Some scenes are genuinely touching. Soon you find yourself actually looking forward to the next cut scene! Many things are left unsaid by the end of the game which leaves you with a sense of wanting more. It also leaves the player with the ability to draw their own ideas and conclusions about Enslaved’s world instead of being spoon-fed every bit f information possible from an over-zealous writer.

I would welcome a sequel to this game. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been selling very well. Some people have complained that it is too short or too easy. Well, not every gamer has time to sit down for 50-70 hours to complete a game but they still want an experience bit deeper than jumping on Call of Duty on Xbox Live. I think Enslaved could provide that. Perhaps the marketing effort spent too much time focusing on hardcore gamers who had their eye on titles like Fallout and Fable. Maybe with a lower price or digital distribution it could have done better. It’s a shame because I really do think this game can fill a niche and I think people are missing out on one of the best stories in video games this year if they dismiss it out of hand.

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9 responses

  1. Slythe

    I started playing Enslaved on “hard” difficulty, and you won’t catch me complaining that it was too easy! I managed to get through to the windmill on hard, but decided to wimp out at that point and go back to play through again on medium which was more fun, though maybe a fourth difficulty half way between medium and hard would have been (as Goldilocks would say) “just right”.

    Without giving too much away I thought they made a mistake in the epilogue using a video of Andy Serkis instead of another digital character, I found that jarred visually with the appearance of the others and threw off my suspension of disbelief. I also missed having Sandy in addition to Monkey and Pigsy, an extra “straight man” to those two comics could have provided some more amusing character interaction. Given the water levels I wouldn’t be surprised if they did intend to include him early on, but probably dropped him to simplify the game design.

    Like

    November 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  2. Pingback: Enslaved: Odyssey To The West | The PS3 Game Store

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  4. I was missing Sandy being in there too, but they did include a lot of the Journey to the West story components.

    I think I played it through in 2 days, about 10 hours of play. It was short, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it really left me wanting more. I fear that the sales may be due to it being overshadowed by other games. Castlevania released on the same day, iirc, here in the UK.

    There are always bitching and moaning. Some people live to gripe. I know a few people who were going to pass it up, but I convinced them otherwise and they’re happy I did. It really is a good game with a wonderful story. Visually it is inspiring I think. With so much grey in the post apocalypse game worlds, it was great to see these vibrant settings.

    What can I say, I loved it.

    Like

    November 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  5. Slythe

    “What can I say, I loved it.”

    Oh yeah, I forgot to say that I liked it a lot as well 🙂

    Like

    November 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  6. Yeah, I’ve seen either lots of praise or lots of bitching about this game. Nothing inbetween! It too was surprised when people said it was too easy. I saw one say that any combat just required button bashing of the same button – at this point I wondered if the complainer was actually playing the same game as I was!

    I do tend to agree that there is nothing special or innovative about the gameplay. I probably wouldn’t have played it through without the story and beautiful graphics. But it was FUN. And isn’t that the most important thing in any game? I liked the little puzzles too 🙂

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    November 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

  7. The mix of gameplay kept it interesting to me also. It wasn’t innovative, but a game doesn’t need to be just to be good. That’s something so many gamers forget.

    I think maybe that person was an idiot. You most definitely couldn’t just button mash one button.

    Like

    November 10, 2010 at 1:11 am

  8. Slythe

    IMO it looked like a good example of very efficient games development. They didn’t have a huge variety of stuff in their game, but everything they did put in was done extremely well and was very polished. A lot of games developers would have felt obliged to introduce at least one new monster and a new weapon or other gadget every level just for the variety, but the guys who made Enslaved had a fairly small number of bad guy designs and weapons but they made sure they got every ounce of game-play they could out of every one of them. They focused on a decent and interesting little combat system with excellent animations, good level design with some nice puzzles, a good story and well written dialogue, and they managed to get the voice actors and animators to bring out the subtexts in what the characters were saying. Not forgetting the humour, which made me laugh out loud on many occasions. The whole thing just merged together really well, so the level design flowed naturally from the story.

    Like

    November 10, 2010 at 1:45 am

  9. Slythe

    Mass Effect 3 trailer is out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tihy1B_KW5Y
    Me want! 🙂

    Like

    December 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

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