Cam’s Eye View: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

You know what bugs me about games of today? I hate how a lot of games don’t have a good story. It’s games like Kane and Lynch 2, the Call of Duty games, and other games in general that try to give a story, but then either ends with these various results. The story is either unimportant, which bugs me the most, the story is too long and boring, the story is too fast, or it just gets mixed with all of the above. Now, as a gamer, I like a good story, gameplay, and replay value. I usually judge the story in a game a lot in my later reviews because with games like Heavy Rain and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow have made storytelling in games an important aspect of the gaming genre. I think a great example of another game that is a legitimate format of storytelling is Ninja Theory’s hit game, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. A post-apocalyptic version of the famous oriental story, Journey to the West, Enslaved gives us a different taste of gaming outside of all the clustered shooters and other bombs in 2010. Well then, let me enslave your eyes for a few minutes and enjoy my review of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Just a heads up, this review might be as long as the No More Heroes 2 review or other reviews that are 6 pages or more. Grab a drink is the only advice I have for you.

The story revolves around two main characters, a strong warrior-like man named Monkey, and a red haired girl named Trip. After escaping a slave ship, Trip enslaves Monkey with a headband that will kill him if she dies or if he doesn’t follow her commands. Throughout the story, you will actually be pulled in by the convincingly human characters and an ending that really makes you want to see what happens next. This is one of those games that is a legit format of storytelling. Now then, lets move on to the gameplay.

The gameplay in Enslaved is a little bit of everything. You have Uncharted and Prince of Persia-style platforming, some simple puzzles, weaponized combat, Uncharted-style chase scenes, simple quick time events (literally one button), some stealth, and some third person shooting. You will mostly be controlling Monkey, with Trip just tagging along. Monkey uses a staff that can be used for close range combat with a simple combat system that is kind of hard to pin down. It isn’t God of War or Ninja Gaiden-style combat system. You can also use the staff to stun enemies close range or from afar. You can shoot energy bolts at enemies and customize it so that you can kill them with one shot. Like I said, you can customize Monkey with multiple stat bonuses like more attacks, more health, better shields, more ammo for the energy bolts, more stun time, and you get the idea. It’s simplified here, so don’t worry about everything being so complex. Now, when we first saw that you HAD to travel with someone else and protect that person, we all groaned a little since, well, who likes escort missions? Trip, on the other hand, is actually more useful with her abilities to scan the field for mechs, send a shock wave if she is threatened, and make a decoy so you can get past the gunners. From time to time, the gameplay is separated with Monkey manning a turret or flying on his hover disc. It’s pretty fun to do both, and I bet for the people who have played it, they had fun blowing up mechs.

The graphics are amazing since it runs on the Unreal 3 engine. While it does show its age, it looks incredible with nature taking over the landscape, and just the epic feel of fighting robots through green grass fields. The voice acting is top notch with famous actor Andy Serkis doing the motion capture for Monkey and the voice acting. I also like Trip’s voice actress Lindsey Shaw who I actually saw on a Nickelodeon kid show once. It was a big surprise to me that she did such a good job in the role as Trip. Kudos to her! By far, one of my favorite secondary characters ever is the loveable, yet slimy Pigsy, voiced by Richard Ridings. He has got to be one of the best characters ever. He is slimy, yet he is loveable in his role in the story, and how he represents the humor in the game that helps round out the already human cast.  Like I just said, the whole story is believable because of the story and how the actors, well, act. It isn’t overblown like Devil May Cry or just ridiculous like the more recent Final Fantasy games. I don’t see a lot of human-like characters in games today, and that is what bugs me. More games should have more humanized characters. Stop doing the whole Gears of War character archetype. Even Kratos in God of War has human feelings, even if part of his personality is revenge and ripping people in half. Another example is Gabriel Belmont because he has twisted thoughts of what he is doing in Lords of Shadow. The music is also wonderful to listen to and I hope they make a soundtrack available for retail, since I would put it on my ipod to listen to when I type my reviews. The composer for the music is Nitin Sawhney. He is famous for stuff like Heavenly Sword, and multiple shows and films. It’s a wonderful soundtrack that sounds like east and west music were combined into one soundtrack.

Overall, this is a great game that has only a few flaws. They are not huge things, but they do hold the game back. The first thing I’ll mention is that the game is short. It took me about 2 to 3 days to beat it and it was about 10 to 11 hours long. This would be a bigger issue if the story weren’t so well-paced and interesting. The only other complaint I have about the game is that there isn’t much replay value besides great character development and an entertaining story written by Alex Garland who wrote the screenplay for 28 Days Later and books like The Coma. Sadly, there are no costumes or different scenarios or anything. I would have loved to see Pigsy make it out alive, rather than knowing that he died in the end of the story. The only other little complaint I had is that I wished Trip was more than a dead weight with a few tricks up her sleeve.

Overall, if you haven’t played this, GO PLAY IT! It is a great game and is one of my favorite games of all time. It has a great story, believable characters, simple, but fun combat, and a great script. I say, go out and buy it, or play the demo and make the choice on your own. It’s a great game that leaves itself open for a sequel, and it rightfully deserves it. Maybe one day we will come back to this Enslaved world and see our two heroes again. Thanks for reading and see you all next time!

This game gets a 9 out of 10

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