If you’ve never heard of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, your like a majority of the gaming world. That is a big problem. Enslaved is one of the most eventful and well crafted games I have played this year, and from level to level, you will be completely and utterly immersed in the game. With its gorgeous visuals, well crafted character development, and some of the best pacing put into a game to date, Enslaved is essentially a page turner, in video game form.
The story of Enslaved is one made of primarily character development. While the characters are put through a series of events that make up the story, the real meat of the game is about how the two characters, Monkey and Trip, respond to each other, and how the events in the game build their relationship. The reason this character development is so well done is because the game first starts when they first meet, and you get to see there relationship build throughout the entire game. AS it does build, you’ll become emotionally attached to these character, and as the story progresses, you’ll have emotion and you’ll actually care about the outcome of the two. This is something that is rarely done in other games, and while it has been done in some, it has never been done to this level, which makes Enslaved such a treat to play.
The graphics are also a treat in Ensalved, presenting some of the most beautiful and varied environments I’ve seen in a game. You’ll play in a post-apocalyptic New York, which isn’t barren as expected, but is colorful nature covered city, which adds a bit of peace to this world, which is rarely seen in games based on this period. You’ll go through a mountain side, a junkyard, and underground lair, and a giant metal interior, and they all look great. The environments in Enslaved are some of the best I’ve seen, and due to them, they definitely sell you on the world, and also give Enslaved its own visual style.
The characters models are also great in Enslaved. Each one is crafted in mind of the setting, and Monkey and Trip both look they way you think they would. Even the character added later in the game, Pigsy, looks great and is very detailed, even though he isn’t as “visually appealing” as Monkey and Trip. The enemy models also look great. Through out Enslaved, you’ll fight numerous mechs, and while their appearance doesn’t change much through the game, their is a varied amount, and each type is distinguishably different from the next one, which allows you to easily identify the different types from each other.
The only downside to Enslaved’s graphics is probably the fact that there is some major issues at times. Character models in cut scenes can go wack, which causes them to either move in strange ways, or just disappear completely, which really destroys the sense of immersion that the game is selling you on. There is also some minor texture pop-in, but that is never really much of an issue.
The sound in Enslaved also matches the quality of the graphics, and perhaps even surpasses it. The soundtrack to Enslaved is an orchestrated one, that hits all the right notes at the appropriate times. It adds a wonderful sense to your actions, and while sound can often be over looked in games, it was in high priority in Enslaved. The voice acting is also top notch, featuring some of the best seen in games. Even Andy Serkis the voice of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies lends his voice as Monkey, and does and excellent job doing it. Each conversation is meaningful, and is completely believable. The voice acting is the reason the character development is done so well, and Enslaved’s acting department even rivals those of some Hollywood movies, which is a true gaming feat.
The gameplay is Enslaved is good, but isn’t as nearly as well done as the presentation of Enslaved. The controls are nice, but aren’t as nearly as tight as other games today. You’ll feel as if Monkey, the character you play as, is slightly behind each move you do. It isn’t a huge deal, as you will learn to compensate for it, but it does feel a bit awkward at first. This is present in both the climbing mechanics, and the combat mechanics.
Your primary way of getting around the vast environments in Enslaved is through climbing tall buildings/structures, and going in a straight path. For the climbing mechanics, a good comparison would be Uncharted 2, however the mechanics are much more streamlined, and climbing in Enslaved looks awesome, but is very much a linear path.
Linear isn’t a bag thing though. You will constantly be led down a linear path throughout the entire experience of Enslaved, but you won’t notice. Each part you go to next you don’t go to because you have to, you go that way because you want to. The pacing is incredible, and as you go from piece to piece, you’ll constantly becoming across set-piece to set0piece, which gives the game a real thrill that never stops. You’ll want to keep playing from beginning to end, all 11 hours.
The combat system in Enslaved is also very well done. Combat isn’t main focus of the game, so each encounter you’ll have will have a purpose, and you’ll never feel like that your fighting enemies for a reason. But you do engage in combat, it isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually very fun. Monkey is at first limited, only having a light attack, heavy attack, a guard break, and a block. You’ll also later learn to shoot projectiles from your staff, but it is never really used. But as you purchase more upgrades, you can make the combat get much deeper, introducing counter attacks, focus attacks, evade moves, each upgrade adds more to the system, allowing you to go deeper and deeper. The combat has it’s own flow. Your only weapon is Monkey’s staff, which is quite the amazing weapon. You’ll have to learn the pacing of battle, otherwise you’ll just be mech food. Each enemy type has their own pacing, and you’ll learn as time goes on the flow of battle. Once you think you know how to do it, the game will throw different scenarios your way that will make you have to figure out on the fly which enemy type you should take out first, and how you should do it. This combined with the feeling of purpose in each fight, you won’t grow tired of Enslaved’s combat system throughout your playthrough the main game.
While Enslaved is an amazing game, it is one of those games that once you beat it, there isn’t much to go back to. While most games now and days have sort of extra tack on to help justify the $60 price tag, Enslaved has nothing. It’s a real case of quantity vs quality, and while there are some collectables to go back to once the game is over, once you’ve beat it, you’ve beat it. And because of its pacing, its possible to beat this game in a day (Like I did myself) and have nothing left to do after.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has been one of my favorite gaming experiences this year. It has beautiful visuals and sounds, great acting, and pacing that will keep you completely immersed, all 11 hours through. However, once its done, its done, and it’s hard to recommend a game that has such little replayability these days while other single player games these days such as Mass Effect 2 and Fallout: New Vegas not only have stories that last 40+ hours, but also allow you to go back and have a new experience each time though. However, not every game is like Enslaved, and if you want a gaming experience like no other, and the price tag isn’t much of a deal to you, Enslaved is one hell of a game, and it will have you Enslaved to it for the entire ride.
- Graphics: 9/10
- Audio: 10/10
- Gameplay: 8/10
- Replayability: 5/10
- Overall: 8/10
By Matthew Rawlings