Sunday, July 10, 2016

—Game Review— Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Hubby and I downloaded the demo for this game and it sat on the 360 for a while before either one of us decided to try it out. He tried it and found it a bit frustrating, platformer that it is and hardcore gamer that he's not. I took over and got through the demo. We were both impressed with the graphics. I mean, damn. Seriously, DAMN. He sent me off to look for the game on Amazon. 

I bought it. I played it. More than once. I loved it. I even bought the PC edition, just so I could have the little extras I couldn't get with the console edition. Um, yeah. Love. SO. MUCH. LOVE.

Let's break this all down.

***Enslaved: Odyssey to the West***

Published by Bandai Namco | Developed by Ninja Theory
Released 2010 | Action, Platformer
For Xbox 360, PS3, PC | Review: Xbox 360, PC
*Rated T for Teen*
Blood | Language
Suggestive Themes | Violence

HGG rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 9.8/10

You are Monkey, a loner who escapes the slavers only to be enslaved by a young woman desperate to return to her home. If she dies, you die. So all you have to do is get her there alive. Simple.

First impressions?
Let me see if I remember...
First time I tried this, I was disappointed to discover it was a platformer. After completing the demo, I realized the game itself more than made up for the whole platforming thing. In this case, the demo did its job: We bought the game because of it.

Graphics and voices? 
Stunning. Like, wow. Watching the cutscenes was a real treat, watching how their mouths actually seemed to match the words that were supposedly coming out of them. Impressive. And I gotta say, this is the kind of post-apocalyptic world I can get on board with. (That sounds rather harsh, huh, considering that kind of world means humans have pretty much been wiped out? Hmm. Yeah.)

The voice acting is AWESOME. Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) does the voice of Monkey and damn. Just damn. I'm not sure who did Trip's or Pigsy's voices, but they were spot-on too. Really great. I've linked a short video below so you can hear Trip and Monkey for yourself. (My vid, recorded using the app.)

One of the better ones out there in the gaming world. Intriguing, funny at times, tear inducing at others. But left hanging at the end a bit, as if the creators had intended to make a sequel. I really, really wish they would. Somehow, I doubt that's gonna happen. :(

The story in this game is based on a book, specifically Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en. This story is commonly known as Monkey.

Not hard. Seriously this is an easy-ish game. I've only played it all the way through on the easiest setting, but it's almost comically easy. It's a great game if you're not much of a gamer but you enjoy a good storyline and great graphics. I admit to feeling a bit challenged in the normal setting, as certain areas the enemies are launched at you in greater numbers and evasion tactics become necessary moves. Button masher that I am, I don't tend to use the evade or block tactics very often.

I take that back. There are a few parts that are frustrating for me. Parts where I die, over and over. Like in chapter 4 when running from the dog...

Monkeys are delicious.

As is the case with a lot of games, this one has collectibles.

Red and orange orbs on a ledge
Everywhere you look, there are red-orange glowing orbs to collect. These are leftover mech parts that Trip can use to upgrade Monkey's abilities, weapons, health, and armor. Some are right along the path you take, but others require detours and platforming here and there, especially in the later chapters.

Odd masks float in the air
There're also these white, glowing masks to collect that show Monkey weird flashes that Trip originally thinks are hallucinations caused by the slave headgear she forced on him. The first few masks are impossible to miss. You literally run right through them to get through the level. There are a few in later chapters that are easy to get too. But others require detouring, platforming, and figuring out exactly how to get around to ones that seem impossible to reach.

The Premium Edition (PC, PS3) comes with the Pigsy's Perfect Ten DLC and three skins for Trip and Monkey: Classic Monkey, Ninja Monkey, and Sexy Robot Trip.

I've tried out all three—you can only equip one skin at a time, and it can only be equipped from the main menu. The skins aren't JUST skins, however. Each one adds something to the character.
Classic Monkey gives him more power; Ninja Monkey gets unlimited ammo for his staff blaster; Sexy Robot Trip extends the length of her EMP attack as well as all of Monkey's stun attacks.

I really like having unlimited ammo, and the extra strong Monkey is nice too. I'm not all that keen on Trip's extended stun. Didn't seem all that effective against the dog in chapter four. I might like her better if I use her in a chapter where she gets attacked herself. The added duration of her EMP would probably come in handy then. 

It was too damn short. Way too short. I could have happily played for days, rather than mere hours. I'm used to games that take days (JRPGs), so this was startling in its shortness. 

The camera work drove me crazy at times. It's the same thing that's been said over and over in reviews for this game, but I wouldn't be giving my honest opinion if I didn't mention it. It's maddening! You're going along, happily smackin' the crap outta mechs, or swinging from rooftop to tree branch, when all of a sudden, the cameraman says, "Nuh-uh. We're looking this direction now." Frustrating and difficult to get used to.

PC edition: I HATE how you can only equip one skin at a time. I thought I'd at least be able to equip Trip's and one of Monkey's. Nope. Only one. Either Trip or Monkey gets a skin. I suppose this has to do with the skins being more than just cosmetic. Still. Annoying.

Made my top 10 list without even getting all the way through it. Reaching the end moved it to the top. Fans of platformers might enjoy this, though falling off of ledges is actually impossible, so the real challenge comes in those areas where other things can knock you into oblivion.

My rating?
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 9.8 of 10 life hearts. (I'm deducting a tenth of a heart for the shortness and a tenth for the camera work.) I seriously love this game.

Where to buy?
*Enslaved is © Bandai Namco Games/Ninja Theory; these companies in no way endorse this gaming/fan/reviews blog.

Until next time...

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