Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review Summary: Enslaved is an action game with RPG elements delivered to us via Ninja Theory, creators of Heavenly Sword. It is an action-packed story with exceptional writing and acting from Alex Garland (28 Days Later) and Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings). Continue reading on to see why Enslaved is worth your time and effort.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West review
Enslaved is a game by Ninja Theory (developers of Heavenly Sword) in which they utilize the wonderful creativity they share as a company to bring an exciting story with gorgeous accompanying visuals. It is the re-imagining of the Chinese story “Journey to the West,” only set in a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humanity is enslaved by a mysterious corporation utilizing Mechs to enforce the planet. While the game struggles with several technical issues, its momentum lies within its exceptional atmosphere, cutscenes and writing.
The tale of Enslaved is told via the lives of two runaway slaves, Monkey and Trip, who escape from an airborne slave ship. The two become intertwined via Monkey’s involuntary binding to Trip, after the fiasco on their initial airborne voyage. The strong introduction is enough to draw in players to trek through this 10 to 12 hour journey, which was penned by 28 Days Later scribe, Alex Garland.
Enslaved is enriched with entertaining platforming ideas, combined with melee combat where our lead character Monkey excels. Trip (short for Tripitaka) is the tech guru who helps with guiding Monkey visually, via the HUD that is there due to the slave headband, throughout each portion of the game. There is a necessity between their partnership, in order for players to advance through the game’s obstacles. Trip is nothing more than a barely controllable NPC who can be utilized for creating decoys and upgrading Monkey’s abilities. Her guidance can become fairly annoying at times, with the constant scanning of nearly every sector of the game.
Enslaved features vivid imagery and level design, yet due to camera issues and a lack of explorative freedom, it falls short of being that perfect game. Also, I found a few hindrances with some of the bugs, which should have been ironed out before the game’s release. Many of these bugs forced me to have to reload my game from a previous checkpoint since I was unable to use my Cloud in one case (where it was supposed to be used) and in another a glitch had my character stuck in a wall.
Some ideas from this game could have been done some justice, had the perfected elements of other games been used in reference alongside Ninja Theory’s great ideas, to make Enslaved much better than it is. Possibly more freedom to Monkey’s parkour-like movements, ala Assassin’s Creed or a more refined combat system for multiple enemies similar to fellow Unreal Engine based counterpart Arkham Asylum.
Yet, aside from all the technical issues lingering that seemed to bother me, I still continued playing through Enslaved since much of it was still highly enjoyable to me. With an exceptional voice-over cast, including Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), Lindsey Shaw (10 Things I Hate About You) and Richard Ridings (The Pianist), it was a thrill to continue playing Enslaved. I must also note that the motion capturing and cutscene direction done by Alex Garland and Andy Serkis puts most games’ storytelling to shame.
After my playthrough of Enslaved, I may only hope for a possible sequel, with these great characters and the effort by Ninja Theory. If all the technical snafus are done away with and a continual attention to storytelling has returned, a sequel for Enslaved may very well be a classic. Enslaved is worthy of your time and is recommended for players who want an entertaining action title. Give it a try!
Thanks to Namco Bandai Games for making this review possible!