Enslaved: Odyssey To The WestEnslaved: Odyssey to the West is an action-adventure platform video game developed by Ninja Theory and published by Namco Bandai Games. It was released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 5, October 7 and October 8, 2010 in North America, Australia, Japan and Europe respectively. A premium version, featuring all DLC content, was made for Microsoft Windows and was later released on October 25, 2013.
The story is a re-imagining of the novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng'en. Unlike the original story that was set in a fantastical version of ancient China, the game is set 150 years in a future post-apocalyptic world following a global war, with only remnants of humanity left, along with the still active war machines left over from the conflict. Like the original story however, the plot revolves around someone who forces the help and protection of a warrior, with many characters sharing the same names and roles. The game's story was written by Alex Garland, with voice talent and motion capture from Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw.
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West PlotEnslaved is a story set 150 years in the future where a global war has ravaged the Earth, destroying much of the human race and leaving the world to be plagued by robots left over from the conflict, known as "mechs". Although they are from a bygone era, they are still following their programming and seek to completely eradicate hostiles - in this case humanity.
The game opens with the main character, Monkey (Andy Serkis), awakening in a containment cell aboard a slave ship just as the vessel is about to crash. He and a woman named Trip (Lindsey Shaw) leave the ship via escape pod, but when he regains consciousness after a fall, he discovers that she has placed a slave headband on him, which forces him to follow her orders and that if Trip dies, so does Monkey. Trip explains that she wants to return to her village, which is 300 miles away, and that she needs his help to get there. Monkey is angry, but complies when he realizes that he has no choice. The two travel across New York City toward the crash site, where Monkey hopes to recover his motorcycle. Along the way, glitches in the headband expose him to visions of what appears to be life before the war.
After visiting the crash site, the two travel the rest of the way on Monkey's motorcycle, but when they reach Trip's village, the place is deserted and overrun with mechs. After clearing the village of them, Monkey and Trip break into the safe room where they believe survivors are hiding, only to discover that Trip's father is dead and no other villagers can be found. Assuming everyone to be dead, Trip breaks her promise and refuses to remove Monkey's headband, explaining her intent to find and kill the person responsible.
Trip takes Monkey to meet up with a friend of her father's named Pigsy (Richard Ridings), whom she believes can help them. Pigsy agrees to join them, and explains that a nearby mech base is currently housing an enormous and incredibly powerful weapon called the Leviathan. He gets a flying vehicle up and running, and the three follow a slave ship all the way to the base where the Leviathan is being held. They infiltrate the base, break the restraints off of the Leviathan, commandeer it and steer it in the direction of Pyramid, where the slaves are being held. Along the way, Trip apologizes to Monkey for breaking her deal and deactivates the headband, but Monkey tells her to turn it back on, hinting that they developed a romantic relationship on their journey together.
When the Leviathan reaches Pyramid, they are confronted with several giant scorpion-shaped mechs. The Leviathan's main cannon fends them off for a while, but one eventually climbs aboard and tears the cannon off, forcing Monkey to destroy the mech himself. With the Leviathan now defenseless and surrounded, Pigsy announces that the only way for them to destroy the opposing mechs is for him to overload the engines, which would blow up the Leviathan and kill Pigsy in the process. Trip frantically tries to convince him not to, but Pigsy demands that Monkey take her away from the blast radius, and Monkey complies. They make it away just in time to watch the Leviathan explode, bringing down all of Pyramid's mechs with it.
In the epilogue, Monkey and Trip enter Pyramid and discover that the slaves are under the control of a single individual. The man introduces himself as Pyramid (Andy Serkis) and explains that he lived before the war, and that he offers the slaves solace from the cruel world by sharing with them his memories of a happier era. He believes he is saving them, and pleads with Monkey and Trip not to take away what he has given them. Monkey recognizes the memories as the visions he'd been seeing with the headband on. Pyramid shows Monkey what he has given the slaves through a mask. Monkey becomes enthralled with the images, but Trip violently disconnects and kills Pyramid, shutting down the system and freeing the slaves. The scene ends with Trip asking Monkey if she did the right thing, leaving those in the pyramid and their future unknown.
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West Gameplayerspective, using a variety of combat moves and platforming skills to overcome obstacles. In combat, Monkey utilizes a staff that doubles as both a close-combat and long range projectile weapon. The staff has two forms of long-range ammunition in the form of power cylinders: orange cylinders used for blast damage and blue cylinders used for stunning foes. Monkey can also stay stationary and charge his staff to use the same stun attack in close-combat. Enemies come in different varieties of combat mech, some of which may have shields and can only be damaged after being stunned while others cannot be stunned at all, requiring different approaches to combat. Certain mechs can also be used as weapons- Monkey can perform a finishing move on them when they are low on health, such as tearing the gun off a turret or throwing an explosive foe at other combat mechs. Other abilities of Monkey's include his force shield that can block certain amounts of damage before requiring a recharge and the "Cloud" device that manifests as a hover board that can be used to glide across the water or land at great speeds, gaining speed if it passes over blue orbs of energy littered across the area. Other than combat, the gameplay also heavily focuses on platforming where Monkey can scale and leap across the ruins throughout the game. Some areas and platforms will collapse shortly after, requiring faster scaling before potentially falling to his death.
During the game, Monkey is accompanied by Tripitaka, or simply "Trip" who is to be escorted and protected as they travel. Monkey has a device attached to his head that is linked to Trip. This device, called a slave head band in the game, requires Monkey to keep Trip alive, should she die he will as well. In some instances even just going too far away from her can result in the same fate. Trip, however, can help Monkey overcome obstacles at times by performing certain actions involving her technical skills (like hacking security doors using her wrist mounted computer), sometimes of her own accord, sometimes upon command of the player, depending on the situation. During key sections, Trip scans the surrounding area revealing hazards such as land mines or mechs on standby, allowing the player at times to attempt to avoid combat altogether. Trip can also project a temporary hologram to draw the enemy's attention away from Monkey as a decoy.
Having no combat ability of her own, Trip is very vulnerable in instances where she herself comes under attack by enemies. Her only last-ditch defense is an EMP blast, which she can use to temporarily stun mechs threatening her, but Monkey still has to defeat them before they can attack her again (since the EMP requires some time to recharge). Trip also plays a part in the platforming sections of the gameplay. While she is not as athletic as Monkey, she can crawl through small spaces and can be thrown up to platforms out of his jumping range, along with flipping switches out of his reach, making some sections of platforming more akin to puzzle-like forms of gameplay. Other instances where Monkey can make jumps/climbs, Trip instead will need to be thrown to the other side or ride on his back. Some sections of the game have Monkey and Trip separated, thus disallowing the use of her abilities for the player.
When enemies are defeated, they drop tech orbs that can be used to upgrade Monkey's abilities, allowing the player to learn new moves and abilities for combat and devices, along with increasing overall health and shields and damage that can be inflicted on enemies. Orbs can also be found littered across levels, sometimes hidden out of noticeable sight, requiring extra exploration at times.
ReceptionEnslaved: Odyssey to the West has received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 83.66% and 82/100, and the PlayStation 3 version 82.23% and 80/100.
Much of the praise was directed at the art style, described by McKinley Noble of GamePro as "vividly detailed... that teem with color and light", that "for a post-apocalyptic world, Enslaved shines with gorgeous landscapes, bright scenery, and colorful environments. It's a world where nature is slowly growing over the ruins of the modern age, and the levels all look incredibly vibrant as a result." Edge echoed this view in what they felt was the game's "greatest achievement, standing out in the crowded field of me-too, colour-sapped videogame apocalypses, serving as a vibrant oasis in the otherwise murky brown wastes." Along with the colourful, detailed setting, further praise came from the characters themselves, particularly their dialogue and facial animations. Matthew Keast of GamesRadar felt that "what Enslaved represents is a more mature approach to storytelling, and by being more subtle (and even ambiguous in many of its character’s reactions to each other) it develops quite an emotional payoff", summarizing that it was "a game to justify the gaming medium as legitimate for storytelling". GameTrailers also praised "the voicework and motion capture, much of which bears the mark of the inimitable Andy Serkis, is several notches above what you'd expect from a game. The characters frequently sell you on their humanity with subtle facial gestures, which is truly a superb achievement."
In regard to the combat, while Jim Sterling of Destructoid called it "varied enough despite the simplicity of the commands", the more positive aspects came from "the interactions between Monkey and Trip that really put Enslaved ahead", along with Monkey's cloud disk that "it's so easy for "vehicular" sections of an action game to fall apart, but by keeping the controls for both Monkey and the Cloud uniform, Ninja Theory has crafted an excellent little steed for our nimble hero". Tom Mc Shea of GameSpot felt that "neither the combat nor the platforming are great on their own, but smart pacing ensures that you're always experiencing something new. Thrilling set-piece sequences are injected between the standard action fare, which create rousing moments of unbridled excitement." Arthur Gies of IGN however felt that the controls were "loose" at times, along with "charitable" platforming being more of puzzle-based portion of the gameplay and relatively non-hazardous.
Some critics found a number of technical issues at times, reportedly being more prevalent in the PlayStation 3 version, including jagged textures and some characters missing during cutscenes.
The game received 6 nominations from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences but won no awards.
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