If you played the PS3 exclusive Heavenly Sword, then you should already be quite familiar with developer Ninja Theory’s work. The game was full of cinematic sequences, amazing graphics, and a storyline that kept you at the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
Now comes Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which is Ninja Theory’s third title and it follows the Heavenly Sword’s footsteps. The question is, can Enslaved fill Heavenly Sword’s immense shoes?
The story of Enslaved is your classic tale of boy meets girl, girl places a hacked slave headband to control boy, boy follows orders or else he dies. You play as Monkey who runs into a girl named Trip when they both escape from a mysterious slave ship who has been picking up anyone and everyone to become slaves. Upon their escape, Trip places a hacked slave headband in order to get Monkey to help her get back home. The headband not only serves as a way for Trip to control Monkey, but it also allows Trip and Monkey to communicate with one another. The headband also allows Monkey to view a HUD which displays mission objectives, status of his health, and other things. Oh yea, one last thing: If Trip dies, Monkey dies. So it would be in his best interest to keep Trip out of harm’s way.
Enslaved mostly plays as one long escort mission as you help Trip get back home. This may sound like a nuisance, but both characters compliment each other very well. Monkey is strong, agile, and a loner while Trip relies on her tech knowledge, hacking skills, and has a strong bond with her clan. During missions, they’ll both help one another in order to progress. Trip will scan the area ahead in order to assist Monkey in preparing for a fight, navigating through a complicated route, or giving vital information on how to complete a puzzle. On the other side, there are areas that Trip can’t access, which Monkey needs to throw her across large gaps and up to hard to reach ledges as well as protect her from enemies. Monkey can also give Trip orders to move to a location, create a decoy, heal him, or she can upgrade Monkey.
During your adventure, you’ll come across tech orbs that are scattered around every level. You’ll also be able to collect more tech orbs when you defeat an enemy. The purpose of the tech orbs are to have Trip upgrade Monkey in four different ways: health, shield, staff, and combat. In health and shield, you’ll be able to add more health, improve Monkey’s shield, and add regenerative properties to both categories as well as some other upgrades. Staff upgrade offers a number of upgrades to Monkey’s staff that allows him to carry more shock or pulse ammo, their strength, and their speed. Combat upgrades add a number of improvements to Monkey’s combat such as adding an evade move that allows Monkey to roll away from enemies.
The combat in Enslaved is a combination of ranged combat and close weapon combat. Ammo is scarce in Enslaved, so there were times where I often reverted to close combat in order to conserve my ammo when ranged combat was necessary. Monkey’s staff is able to shoot shock and pulse ammo from its tip. Shock ammo stuns enemies, while pulse damages them. The close weapon combat didn’t offer much variety in terms of multiple combinations, but each enemy had their own strategy as how best to combat with them. Some enemies are even shielded, which requires you to either shock them to remove their shield, or roll behind them to take advantage of their exposed back. When you connect an attack with an enemy, the camera angle will twist and focus in on the action with every hit. I felt this simple addition made the combat feel like it was a cinematic experience rather than how most games where the camera is stationary overhead during combat. When Monkey finishes a combat segment, he’ll break through his enemy with the camera focusing on his final move. Trust me when I say it looks very, very cool.
When I review games, I’m not one to comment on graphics unless they’re either terrible or amazingly brilliant since most games nowadays for the most part look great, but Enslaved is one of those amazingly brilliant titles that I just need to make a comment on it. The character designs, levels, and atmosphere are all rendered beautifully in the Unreal Engine. Each character has an amazing amount of detail to them and their facial animations are top-notch. When I completed the game, I went back to certain levels in order to really appreciate the amount of detail that I might have missed during my first play through. Early levels took you through a post-apocalyptic New York City with tons of plans and foliage growing over crumbling towers. Later on, you’ll infiltrate an enemy location which gives off a more industrial look.
FINAL THOUGHT: If you enjoy Prince of Persia, then you will absolutely love Enslaved. The game has a ton of atmosphere, combat, and the story certainly lives up the the Ninja Theory name. This is one of those games that might fly under most people’s radar, but I highly recommend that you go and get this game as it’s one of those titles that will stay with you for a very long time.