Enslaved

Review

posted 11/25/2010 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: 360
During the E3 presentation of the Witcher 2 this year, the producer for the game mentioned that they were going to have an easy combat option for people who just wanted to experience the story without having to worry about the combat. It struck me as an odd feature, because the combat seemed like such a core part of the game and why would you want to tone something like that down.

If you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up, it’s because Enslaved seems to have taken that approach and not made the easy features an option. Playing Enslaved feels like playing a third person action game with training wheels, a safety harness, and water wings. These training wheels include not allowing you to miss any jumps or fall off the edges of the world. Sure we’ve seen some of these things in parts other games (Uncharted 2 and the God of War games come to mind), but never has the difficulty of a game been taken away so completely. As someone who’s not a fan of platforming or jumping puzzles, I normally welcome a little bit of help, but the game’s constant need to protect you from yourself detracts from what is an otherwise amazing game.


Getting back to the game, Enslaved is set 150 years in the future, after mankind has been mostly been wiped off the planet by an undisclosed conflict. You play Monkey, a lone wolf who gets by and who has been captured by a slaver team. They’ve also captured Trip, a teenage girl who manages to break out of her cell and escape. Fortunately for Monkey her escape allows him to break free but unfortunately for him, it causes the ship to crash. Monkey and Trip manage to escape the ship, knocking Monkey in the process. While he’s out, Trip decides he would be a great person to get her home and decides that he’ll need the “encouragement” of one of the Slaver headbands to get her there. The game is loosely based on the classic story “Journey to the West”. I’d love to offer a comparison on their take of the story but I’m not that well read.

Don’t expect to get a lot of answers about what has happened to humanity, as the game only provides minor hints about the world in which the game is set. Instead the focus is on Monkey and Trip and their evolving relationship (which is complicated in the last third of the game by the addition of another character). Trip is especially interesting as her character evolves the most over the game. Monkey gets a variation of the Han Solo arc which we’ve seen before in other games.


Thus starts the journey of our two heroes, and it’s also where the Ninja Theory magic kicks in. The first thing you’ll notice is that Ninja Theory has been able to bring the fantastic character models from Heavenly Sword to the Unreal Engine 3. The human characters in the game are the most expressive and real feeling of any game on the market. Monkey and Trip look, feel, and react like real people which are helped by some amazing voice over work.

The world the characters inhabit is also as good. There are a few texture pop-in issues (a side effect of the Unreal 3 engine), but they aren’t as bad as I’ve seen in UE3 games. I read somewhere that Ninja Theory used a lot of what they saw in the show “After we are gone” and the influence of the show is evident in the first half of the game as Monkey and Trip must escape the overgrown ruins of New York.
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