It’s so pretty.
Yeah, that’s the first thing that you will notice about this post-apocalyptic action adventure from Namco Bandai. If you have seen the screen shots or watched one of the trailers, you will already know that, as opposed to most post-apocalyptic games, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has a lush and vibrant setting.
The story is fairly straight forward. The world has gone pear-shaped and mechs have taken over, pretty much wiping out mankind. You start the game as Monkey, a survivor that has been captured and is being taken on board a slave ship to, well, nowhere nice I am sure. Things take a turn when an unknown female with serious techy skills decides to sabotage the ship. What follows is a frantic rush to safety, that also doubles as a tutorial and explains some of the more frequent aspects of the gameplay.
Much of the game will revolve around jumping from one platform to the next, climbing the sides of structures and other such actions requiring Monkey’s impressive agility. The platforming aspects all run smoothly and work well, with very few accidental plunges to the players death, which is always nice. The other aspect explained here is the rudimentary combat which again works really well, with Monkey using his staff to beat back the mechs that bar his escape to freedom.
Back to the story and Monkey finally loses consciousness as he succeeds in escaping the stricken craft. When he awakens, he finds the young woman, who identifies herself as Trip, nearby and a strange band on his head. It turns out that Trip needs his help and, instead of asking for it, has fitted him with an enslavement band that allows her to inflict extreme pain on Monkey unless he does what she wants. With no choice, Monkey must do as Trip asks and help her return to her home, all the while keeping her alive, because if she dies, he dies. Thus starts this uneasy relationship.
Making their way across the landscape, Monkey and Trip must work together in order to survive. This is where the main aspect of the gameplay comes in, this co-operation between the two characters. Monkey, who is directly playable, bring with him the muscle and agility. It will be up to him to reach levers in high up places amongst the ruins of skyscrapers, whilst also having to take out the various mechs that will be found crawling around the derelict city. It will also be up to him to keep Trip safe.
Trip, on the other hand, brings with her a number of useful skills, mostly as a result of her techy skills. She can be controlled indirectly, which unlike a lot of games that use this method, works really well. She can provide support in the form of decoys that attract the enemies attention long enough for Monkey to make a sneak attack. She can also detect the enemy and buried mines, allowing Monkey to navigate the environment with a bit more safety. Trip is also responsible for providing the upgrades to Monkey’s abilities, allowing the player to increase their chances of survival through improvements to his staff, health, shields and combat skills.
This symbiotic relationship between the two characters is an enjoyable experience and is frankly the highlight of the game. As the story progresses, the player will get to watch as the relationship grows and evolves. The gameplay itself does suffer from a slight lack of variety in both the puzzle aspects and the different types of enemies that are encountered, although there are some truly epic boss battles to enjoy. But it is this developing relationship between Monkey and Trip, and the story as a whole, that will have the player coming back for more.
The production of the game is very impressive. Although the sound-effects are only adequate, the voice work is of a very high standard, especially Monkey, whose character is voiced by none other than Andy Serkis of Lord of the Rings fame. The same can be said of the graphics, with bright and vibrant backdrops and fairly fluid characters. Andy Serkis also lent the game some of his motion capture expertise, which comes across in the game. And the cut-scenes are outstanding in their role of moving along the story.
As that is what it all comes down to, the story and the relationship between the two main characters. Although everything else in the game is good and works well, the story is the main selling point here. However, like most decent stories, it is over too quickly, with only eight or nine hours worth of gameplay and very little to make the player return for another try.
If you are looking for a bit of adventure with some basic platforming, decent combat and an incredible story, then look no further. The games length may be a bit of a stumbling point, but the experience on the whole is positive and will leave the player wanting more.