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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Preview

Posted by TurtleGirl On September - 7 - 2010

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, published by Namco Bandai, transports players into a vast green world one hundred and fifty years in the future.  The Human race has been more or less wiped out and robots called the death machines remain. Based in this post apocalyptic America, the main story centres around characters Monkey and Trip, as they embark upon a breath-taking, fast-moving action adventure. Monkey is captured by the death machines and is placed into an airship, but manages to escape into a dense and overgrown New York City. All that remains of this fallen land are crumbling structures and half burnt American flags swaying in the breeze.

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The opening title sequence is amazing as we see Monkey fall unconscious, completely unaware of where he is or what has happened, only to awaken in a strange environment. What he does know is that unlike before, he’s now wearing a slave headband. This headband cannot be removed and it vibrates and glows red upon his brow. The headband can inflict pain on Monkey and is activated by the voice of the newly arrived Trip. She desperately needs to get home and she enlists Monkey to help her. She cannot make this journey alone. If he fails, she fails too. His death will ultimately be hers as well. Trip is a woman with a great understanding of technology and she will need this during their journey. Upon awakening Monkey discovers Trip sitting close by, waiting for him to arouse from his deep slumber. Together they must jump, climb and walk over the green landscape of this barren world as they try and make their way to Trips home village, whilst dealing with the ever present threat of death dealing robots that have been dormant for years.

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Whilst playing the game on the Xbox 360, I found the controls incredibly easy to follow. On screen to the left shows players their Shield and health. There are plenty of green glowing health packs if your health becomes too low, so there’s no real worry of being left in short supply. Pressing the Left stick forward enables the characters to move onto the edge of ledges, of which there are many in this game. At first players will feel that they may fall, but early signs would indicate an invisible barrier that would prevent any suicidal tendencies. You’ll find yourself balancing on branches, walking along narrow walkways and carefully negotiating tight spaces.  Both Monkey and Trip navigate as best they can through the environment and try to bypass any robots that lay in wait for them. During battles with the robots you use X to attack and XA buttons for a wide attack. There are a wide selection of different moves to inflict upon the enemy, which I enjoyed very much. Players can use a stun charge which deactivates the robot’s attack and eventually blocks them. I tried a variety of different attack actions on the robots, although a simple X button attack was seemed efficient enough to send them flying through the air or crushed to pieces. Trip herself cannot fight, but can stun enemies with the use of her EMP hand device, which gives her a little time to escape from the robots. Players will be instructed on how to command Trip. She will follow your commands through the use of the Left Buffer button. This displays a command circle with which you can give her orders.

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Monkey and Trip have to spend a great deal of time helping each other as they explore this overgrown environment. Monkey can use his protective skills by allowing Trip to rest of his shoulders, piggy back style, as he takes her over treacherous areas. The aim is to survive, or face being captured by the robots. Destroying the robots is satisfying, leaving smashed up metal and sparks flying off their armour in a heap on the ground. As they lay in this mashed up metal pile, their electrics in tatters, you begin to wonder how many more you’ll be up against. Quite a few as it goes, as you try and slip by robots that are quiet and dormant. Sometimes the objective of the game is to watch and observe from a distance, before making that first move.

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The characters are compelling and emotional. This is the first thing that catches my attention as I watch emotions slowly draw over their faces. Monkey is a character with an endless amount of sarcastic wit, but you grow to like him even though he does give Trip an incredibly hard time. You begin to understand the characters and what makes them tick. As they explore the emotional boundaries of each other’s company, you soon begin to develop a feeling that although they wind each other up, there is a connection between the two of them that’s electric. The fact that each of them cannot survive without the other’s help makes you begin to wonder if they really hate each other’s company as much as they portray. The dialogue flows naturally between the two of them and I become increasingly interested in how the story is going to progress.

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You’ll be stuck in areas in which the characters will need to work together to solve puzzles. Using the B button, Monkey can lift various objects throughout the game in order to progress through areas that may have been blocked. The game is about team work and how characters can interact with each other when faced with dilemmas. Players will find it easy to work out what areas to explore, as certain objects will slightly shine, preventing players feeling lost in the dense environment. Most of the time you’ll be jumping from ledges, climbing up walls and walking along rooftops. It had a rather tomb raider feel about it as the characters seamlessly moved from green wooded forest areas to climbing across power cables. Some areas will also be filled with landmines which have to be carefully negotiated unless you want to be blown to smithereens. The animation is stunning and life like, and the characters and their voices are incredibly polished allowing players to emerge themselves in this truly amazing experience. Monkey has an impeccable understanding of how to use his powerful martial art skills and shows players that he will do everything in his power to protect Trip whatever the cost.

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Ninja Theory have all the right ingredients and elements for gamers to get excited about the release in October. Personally this is one of the most exciting titles I’ve seen for the Xbox 360 in a long time. It provides an entertaining and interesting storyline into which the players can invest their time whilst being absorbed into the journey of discovery that these two colourful characters have embarked upon.

October 8, 2010.

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