Release Date: 5 October 2010 (US), 8 October 2010 (UK)
Genre(s): Tactical Third-Person Action Adventure
Publisher(s): Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Ninja Theory
Rating: 16+, T (Teen)
There’s something very strange about this game, which seems to have gripped many players. Enslaved is a game that not many people seem to have noticed, but most of those who did take notice have given it great feedback. Who said that all the top grossing games were the best? I’m not indicating that Enslaved is the best game out there, but it certainly is a game that deserves more than it is credited for.
The game is loosely based on the 400 year old Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Enslaved starts out on a slave ship, and in the many pods in the carriage, are slaves. You portray Monkey, although you don’t find out his name until later. A girl, named Trip (again, you don’t know until later) manages to break out of her pod and sets the ship to destroy itself. Monkey’s pod is blown off the wall and he manages to break out. It’s not before long he is chasing after Trip through the self-destructing ship. Monkey manages to escape by holding onto Trip’s escape pod, but he hits a wall hard and knocks himself out. When he wakes up, he see’s Trip, who tells him that she has put a headband on his head, as she needs help to get home. At first, Monkey is extremely mad about this and wants to kill Trip for putting the band on his head, but before he can harm her, as well as inducing pain into the band, she tells him that he cannot kill her, because if she dies, so does he. Now, Monkey and Trip set out on a journey of a life time, facing hundreds of Mechs, many dangers and amazing landscapes.
The story is extremely well thought out, and when you come to the end of the game, it may just split the players over the last thing over the final sentence said (I shall not say who). The ending is certainly surprising, and the story throughout does take a few turns here and there. Undoubtedly, Enslaved could potentially receive a sequel, but that all depends on the sales figures first.
Now for those who have played the demo, you might think that the demo is all there is to it; running down landscapes and killing Mechs; easy right? No. If you play the game in Hard, like I did, you may come to see that. I’ve noticed many people saying the game is too short. Isn’t that why most games have a difficulty setting? If you play in the hardest difficulty, you’ll have more hours to play on the game than you thought.
Mechs are human sized robotic creatures trying to kill you (is there any shock in that?). Mechs can come in all types, so the ones you see in the demo are just your basic Mechs. Throughout the games, you will come across those with shields which are impossible to break through with your staff, Mechs with guns, which will do an insane amount of damage if you play on Hard, Mechs that will signal more Mechs after a countdown (those are the ones you need to take out ASAP; stunning is the best option), and those with faults, which can be used to your advantage in taking out other Mechs around you. You can learn about faults through your Dragonfly, which also helps find pathways and locates hidden Mechs. You also come across some rather’ unique Mechs, such as ones called “Dogs” which take quite a beating before they are killed. There are a couple other types of Mechs but I’ll let you see those for yourself. Quite a bit of the game is about Strategy; knowing what to do and where to do it before it’s too late. You do need to keep an eye out for the Mechs though, as if they get too close to Trip, then you are in trouble. The first time a Mech attacks Trip, she will use an EMP device, which stuns all Mechs for around 10 seconds. However, if they get to her again before the EMP is fully recharged, then they will break her neck and you will die too. For enemies with ranged weapons, Trip can use a decoy device, causing all ranged Mechs to shoot at you, which gives you the advantage to either stun, plasma blast them or get to an area without taking damage. The decoy will only last for about 10 seconds, so whatever you are going to do, you need to do it fast.
It’s very interesting how well the gameplay has been thought out too, as this isn’t the type of game I would normally play. In most games, like shooters, it’s just shoot, run, hide, shoot. This game forces you to move all around the place and to actually put a bit more effort than you would in shooters. However, this can be a little difficult at times because you can’t always keep track of the Mechs and sometimes it can be a little hard to handle. Also, from the minute you start the game, the controls are a little sensitive, so you either have to turn down the sensitivity, or get used to it; once you get past the first level, the controls are a breeze because your hands have already adapted to them.
There are two main collectables throughout the game. One of them is a nightmare, and the other is a little easier. The first collectable are Tech Orbs, which even though they count to a collectable achievement, they can also help you upgrade your character, giving you extra abilities. You can learn new moves, upgrade your shield, earn more health, upgrade your staff and more. The second collectables are Masks. Some of the masks in the game you cannot miss, as they are incorporated in with the story. The masks are something only Monkey can see, as they are actually a glitch in the headband, and once Monkey touches the glitch, he see’s strange pictures of what seems to be around our time, so he seems to be looking at glimpses of the past or something more. What’s nice about these collectables is on the menu, it tells you how much % of orbs you still need to get and how many masks you still need to find.
One thing I don’t talk too much in reviews is the voice acting, which is almost flawless. You really believe in the characters, and the way the actors portray the emotions is fantastic. Watching behind-the-scene footage, most of the cut scenes were filmed using motion capture technology, and so was most of the voice acting in cut scenes, so they were filmed as if it were a movie, which I find it very interesting when they do this in games (If you did not know, they did this in Alan Wake too) because it adds a sense of belief into the game. Also, if you did not already know, Monkey is voiced by Andy Serkis…. King Kong…. Golem… if you don’t know who they are, die right now. Trip is voiced by Lindsey Shaw, who you may know from “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” and Pigsy, a character you meet later in the game, is voiced by Richard Ridings, who you may remember from the UK drama “Fat Friends.
Enslaved is a thrill ride from start to finish, with jaw-dropping landscapes, intense battle scenes, insanely huge Mechs, and amazing voice/acting. The story really grips you, and the fact that its a retelling of an old classic makes the game feel more real. The controls are a little hard to get used to, and more boss fights would have been nice, but Enslaved is still a good contender for Game of the Year. Bring on the DLC!