Review – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

BUY IT!!! Enough said…. Well, I guess I should tell you the reasons why you should purchase this gem.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is published by Namco Bandai and developed by Ninja Theory.

Enslaved is a third-person action-adventure game with a fairly simple combat mechanic. You dispatch of enemies with quick and heavy attacks, some area attacks, and a long range weapon. A secondary companion assists you by being able to distract enemies so you can take them out strategically. The game also has the typical upgrade system. You can add some new moves to your aresenal, but most of the upgrades add to your shield, your health gauge, and long range weapon stats. Your character traverses areas by scalling walls a la the Uncharted series. The game does not give you the option to fall to your death because you cannot jump anywhere that the developers don’t want you to. An interesting decision and something that I was happy it did when looking at the sum of its parts. The camera is the only thing I had an issue with while playing. I have never been a fan of a static camera, but Enslaved could have used some kind of arena-style camera that focuses on the action. The game does this in some small non-combat areas, but I think my frustrations could have been averted if this was applied to some combat areas. There were multiple times I was fighting an enemy off-screen because I didn’t have time to move my camera.

The ‘game’ of Enslaved is solid; however the star of the game is its story. The game follows the ‘Odyssey’ of Trip, a tech savy girl trying to make it back to her home town, and Monkey, the acrobatic brawn of the game just trying to live. Enslaved is set in New York City 150 years after a war with mechs has dessimated human lives and the world as a whole. Any humans left have to either survive the slavers roaming the land or the dormant techs that can be alerted to your presence. Enslave starts on a slave airship that is going down over New York. Monkey watches as Trip somehow escapes her cell and hurries to get off the ship before it crashes. After explosions uncage Monkey from his cell, he quickly follows after Trip. When Trip makes it to the last escape pod, Monkey latches on and is flung through the sky and crashes somewhat safely on the ground. When Monkey comes to, he is told that he has been fitted with an enslaved headband she controls. If Monkey doesn’t listen to Trip’s commands she can kill him. If Monkey gets too far away from Trip the headband kills him. If Trip dies Monkey dies. Trip needs to make it 300 miles west, she can’t make it alone, and needs Monkey’s help to get there. I really don’t want to talk anymore about the story because I do not want to ruin any of the game. Just know that it’s worth it.

If you are familiar with Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword released for the PS3, you know that the cutscenes for Enslaved are wonderful. The cutscenes convey feeling that I’ve never seen in any game. Facial expressions and eye movements are used to give meaning to the story where other games add vocals and sharp actions (see Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Final Fantasy XIII). You can see the fear and despair in Trip’s face and the confusion and determination in Monkey’s.

You put Ninja Theory’s motion capture together with solid gameplay and a story that is based on the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West and you have a narratively rich game that captivates the player and keeps them going from chapter to chapter. This is an expreience that you have to be a part of. My suggestion is that you purchase this game….NOW!


How are you spending your Holiday 2010 gaming dollars?

It’s late October. Do you know what that means? It means…GAMES!!!!! The holiday release window is in full swing. For some, this is a wonderful time to sit in front of your TV, controller in hand, having to remind someone to tell you to blink. However, for me, it just means my pile of shame will increase exponentially. With so many games coming out I started to wonder who actually has the money to buy all this fun. With new franchises, sequels, and a couple big peripherals, it can be a hard sell from a publisher’s perspective to make people hand over cash for their products.

If you ask me, my GameFly Q is a gift from the gods that allows me to enjoy all of that holiday goodness. But others might feel different. I remember the days when I would do odd jobs around the house and clean gutters around the neighborhood just to get that one title that I had been eyeing for months. There has to be a lot of 2010 teens out there in the same situation. Also, let’s not forget those college students holding on to those last few dollars refund dollars trying to decide between food and Call of Duty Black Ops. So I ask you, the people, how do you spend your gaming dollars?

Some people will choose a game that offers an engrossing story. A game with a world a player can get lossed in and characters with substance could be worth your money. These are games that you can quest to your heart’s content and include story archs that dissapear from the choices that you make.

    Dead Rising 2 (PS3/Xbox 360)
    Fable III (PC/Xbox 360)
    Fallout: New Vegas (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)

Maybe you’re more of an action game person. You enjoy combos, multipliers, and maybe a little story. The following games will lead you down a path of at least a different story, but you can take them out however you want.

    Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3/Xbox 360)
    Disney Epic Mickey (Wii)
    Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3/Xbox 360)
    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (PS3/Xbox 360)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to stab and shoot guys. Give me an assault rifle, pistol, and a combat knife and I’ll wreak HAVOC!!! If that’s what you’re into, you might want to check out these titles.

    Blacklight: Tango Down (PS3/Xbox 360)
    Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC/PS3/Wii/Xbox 360)
    Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
    Medal of Honor (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
    Vanquish (PS3/Xbox 360)

“Wait, what if I have a wife and kids and might not be able to get any of the previous games if they can’t partake?” Well if this is you, I introduce to you the Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect. Whether you want to wave an ice cream cone in front of your TV while looking like an idiot or just want to look like an idiot (albeit with family and friends), you can try a few of these games.

    Dance Central (Xbox 360)
    EyePet (PS3)
    Fighters Uncaged (Xbox 360)
    Kinectimals (Xbox 360)
    Kinect Adventures (Xbox 360)
    Kinect Sports (Xbox 360)
    Kung Fu Rider (PS3)
    Racquet Sports (PS3)
    Sports Champions (PS3)
    Your Shape Fitness Evolved (Xbox 360)

Lastly, if you’re feeling kind of nostalgic, these two Wii games might hit the spot.
P.S. I didn’t have a category for these games.

    Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
    Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)

So, which ones will you choose? Talk amongst yourselves in the comments below.