October is a big month for gaming, and one of the first games to come out is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on the PS3 and 360. This is Ninja Theory’s second title, the first being PS3 exclusive Heavenly Sword. So far, I’ve played the first 3 chapters, and according to the trophy list, I have 11 more chapters to play.
Enslaved, loosely based off of the chinese novel Journey to the West, follows Monkey and Trip, who were on a airship that has crash landed seemingly somewhere in North America. When Monkey awakes, he finds out that Trip has put a headband around him, which she uses as leverage to get him to help her get home. The unlikely duo go on a journey to get Trip back home, fighting the mechs that block their way.
The combat in the game is rather basic in execution, but there’s actually a surprising amount of depth to it via the upgrade system. Around Chapter 3 of the game, you grab something on the ground that Trip can use to upgrade Monkey’s attributes. You’ll definitely want to collect every orange orb you see. I was surprised by how many individual attributes there were within the 4 main stat lines of Combat, Health, Shield and Staff, so it’s interesting that there be so many pieces to upgrade. Getting back to the combat, you’ll be using cover occasionally, and your less protective covers can be shot down, so don’t get too comfy behind brick walls. There is the ability to shoot plasma cells from your staff, which can be used to damage/stun your opponents and go in for easy kills.
The platforming is quite a joy because the Monkey lives up to his name. You can seamlessly jump from platform to platform with him, and the little things like how he “climbs” ladders is really cool to see as you’re playing. The game kind of spells everything out for you; what you can jump on will be highlighted and you can not jump over ledges which have no landing area. So basically, the only way you could die is in battle.
Trip, aside from being a cutie who (kinda looks like Nariko from Heavenly Sword) you’ll occasionally check out while playing, is resourceful as any tech nerd would be. She can unlock doors, setup decoys for Monkey to sneak past and other small things to help her little slave get around. She has Monkey capture a Dragonfly which she reprograms, and what I like about the dragonfly is, not only can it spot mines, enemies, etc., but how it was handled in the game. Instead of making it another item to worry about in gameplay, they assign it solely to Trip, who uses it in small cutscenes prior to navigating an area filled with mines or sleeping mechs.
Performance-wise, the game runs pretty good, but with minor hitches. There was no slowdown in my time playing and screen tearing is only noticable if you squint during cutscenes, but there was one moment where Tripp got stuck in a glitch and I had to break her out of it by attacking the sleeping mechs. That was the only instance of me having issues with her, so she’s been fine for the most part. Graphically, the character models look great and the green grass is pleasant to see in a post-apocalyptic world. There is frequent texture pop-in on cutscenes, but it is a non-issue while in gameplay.
So far, I’m liking the game as much as I thought I would. There’s still more to develop between Trip and Monkey, other people to meet, I still haven’t done the water-skiing part yet, and more about the city and the ship in which they escaped from. Trip and Monkey are getting along fairly well, mostly because Monkey isn’t a headstrong jackass as he might look. He’s actually a fairly sharp guy, so it’s nice to see them both working together rather than one be so reliant on the other. Expect a full review as soon as I finish the story.