When I first saw the initial advertising for Namco Bandai and Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I thought that it would be just another story about two beautiful people frolicking in the jungle — madly in love and on the run. Boy was I wrong.
Sure, you’ll play as a muscle bound topless behemoth and a smoking hot girl with conveniently placed slits in her skin tight pants, but the two are far from a love bound couple. Instead, they are paired with each other via another common primal need – survival.
The story takes place in a futuristic and post apocalyptic war torn setting riddled with Terminator like robots and void of nearly all human life. It opens up with a massive ship that has just lost control of its on board systems, kicking it into impact countdown mode. Your character, Monkey, escapes his holding cell and clammers through the vessel past multiple security bots chasing down a saucy little female by the name of Tripitaka (Trip for short), who will ultimately become your other half throughout the journey, in a not-so-successful foot race to the final escape pod.
Suffice it to say, both you and your soon to be red headed counterpart flee before the ship goes down, but she scores a far better landing than you do. You awaken to find out that your new friend has equipped you with a slave like head piece that operates on her vocal command — think dog collar for misbehaving humans. The deal? You get her to where she wants to go (about 300 miles west of your crash site) and she grants you your ultimate freedom. The downside? If you let her die (or attempt to kill her) the headset will off you as well. Love story my ass, this girl’s got ruthless written all over her, and I was loving it.
As you progress, Monkey will utilize his brute strength and combat prowess to take out the robot centuries that plague your journey, and Trip will act as a decoy dropping tech savvy sidekick that you command (the irony) via a pretty easy to use quick access menu. I guess they could have called the game Prince of Persia: Escape from New York, but that might have caused a few legal issues.
The lush greens you see in the game have overpowered the deteriorating concrete surfaces that once dominated New York City. Backdrops are colorful and visually impressive with plenty of well executed environmental details throughout that will have you stopping on more than one occasion just to take it all in. But don’t kid yourself, this trip is far from a bed of scenic roses. You’ll encounter tons of robotic adversaries, dodge leftover land mines, and overcome countless other traps that prove the age old adage — if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
Conveniently placed ammo, health packs, and collectible glowing orbs keep you chugging along through the game searching every moss covered crevice. And the orbs can be traded in for upgrades to your weapons and abilities transforming you into an even more baddass robo-killing machine and elevating her to the ranks of super powered scantily clad high tech vixen.
Gameplay is a mix of third person combat, water surfing, and platforming mechanics that involve traversing pipes and wall hopping from one shiny wall nub to another. My only complaint here is that the platforming mechanics a bit too fail proof and I often just found myself mindlessly pressing the action button over and over and letting my character effortlessly handle the rest. There are some pretty cool mind testing environmental puzzles to deal with on your journey as well, and they do a decent job of changing the pace of the gameplay, but overall the challenge factor could have been upped a few more notches.
You’ll have a good time pummeling away at Enslaved’s giant mech bosses, with some encounters sending you running for your life, but the majority of the fights simply involve you seeking out the robot’s shiny weak spot and beating it into a pile of techno pulp. On a much more satisfying note, the finishers displayed by our good friend Monkey are nothing short of brutal. In fact, if the game’s adversaries weren’t of the mechanical variety you might just find yourself losing your lunch.
Overall, I enjoyed Enslaved for what it was — a nicely done new IP that can be completed in roughly ten hours. While the gameplay time was relatively short, the plot was far deeper than I had originally braced myself for and the aesthetics were very pleasing. If you can look past the somewhat overly simplified platforming mechanics you’ll be treated to an interesting new title that, like it’s in game enslaving headpiece, captures your attention just long enough to get the girl home.
Here’s The Rundown
+ Rich plot that will keep you interested
+ Beautiful and detailed game environments
- Somewhat simplistic combat and platforming mechanics
- A bit short on the gameplay time
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was developed by Ninja Theory and published by Namco Bandai for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. The game released in the United States on October 5th, 2010 with a retail price of $59.99. The copy used in this review was for the Xbox 360 and given to us by Namco Bandai for review consideration. It was played to completion (about 10 hours).