Friday, November 18, 2011

Forty Two - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Next on my list is a game I picked up at a spring sale earlier this year, because it was cheap and I heard it wasn't bad. ...What? Don't judge me. It's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on my PS3.

I pretty much got what I expected out of this game. Both it and Ninja Theory's previous game, Heavenly Sword, are often described as entertaining, great-looking games that are done in by simplistic controls and a short playtime. Heavenly Sword is usually compared to Dynasty Warriors (as it's a one-person-army hack-and-slash) and Enslaved is usually compared to Uncharted (dude with a lady sidekick climbing through ruins and shooting from cover). After Uncharted 3, another game like it sounded like a pretty good time. And what do you know, it was!

I'll try and make this one of my shorter reviews. STORY: teenaged girl-genius Tripitaka ("Trip") escapes a slaver's vessel with a monstrously powerful nameless fugitive ("Monkey"). To force Monkey to help her, Trip attached an enslavement crown to Monkey, forcing him to follow her orders, and to kill him should she her heart stop beating. Monkey and Trip escape a post-apocalyptic ruined New York City and traverse the wasteland beyond to return Trip home.

This game thrives off the relationship between Trip and Monkey, and then thrives more when a third character is introduced after about 60% of the game is completed. The dialogue is quite entertaining, and the three characters are each charming in their way. Monkey starts out insisting that he will kill Trip once his circlet is removed, but perhaps predictably grows to like the girl (a scantily-clad curvaceous redhead, I should mention). Huh, I didn't need to mention that. I think I might have a thing for redheads. The story takes a wacky turn at the very, very end that is basically ripped from the script of a popular science fiction film. You'll know which one if and when you see it.

GAMEPLAY: Monkey runs, jumps, climbs, whacks things with his staff, fires plasma bolts from his staff, and surfs around on a disc-thing smashing up robots. Trip follows him and mostly pulls levers and opens doors. Puzzle sections involve having the two work together to traverse and area, while combat sections are usually Monkey destroying mechs so they don't get to Trip. Monkey can collect red orbs to upgrade his abilities, but you're given almost all of your combos and shots from the get-go.

The gameplay isn't bad, but not as rock-solid as Uncharted. Too often I rolled when I wanted to climb or sat there like an idiot when I was mashing X to dodge or jump. Really, they had the X button serve too many functions, but overall this was a game that played well and not poorly. Both the gunning and the melee is kind of simplistic, but effective. Combos are easy, and real fight management comes from mastering dodge and block and mixing up ranged with fisticuffs. Overall pretty good shit.

GRAPHICS: Enslaved's real strength is its visuals. The game is entirely in-engine, and is fucking gorgeous. Surprisingly colorful and verdant for a post-apocalyptic version of the United States, but the abundance of machines mixed in with the green and the large gears and engines give it a steampunk vibe instead of a sleek technopunk. Overall I dug it, and wished there were more than fourteen chapters so I could see some new landscapes.

CONCLUSION: Yeah, fourteen chapters is a problem, especially when chapters are occasionally as short as twenty to thirty minutes. I think this game was shorter than Uncharted 3, which is not a compliment. Sure, the characters develop and there's a clear arc and whatnot, but I still wanted more. One pro to this brevity and linearity - no bullshit repetition like Prince of Persia. Still, the game's length is a major problem if you paid full prince, which, thankfully, I didn't.

Overall, good, but short. Perfect for a borrow or a rental. I liked this game well enough that I might keep an eye out for copies of Heavenly Sword, which is a game with most of the same praise and criticisms that Enslaved has, and I'm that much more hyped for Devil May Cry 5, which Capcom passed on to Ninja Theory a few years back (the game is officially named "dmc" in lowercase). I didn't love this game, but I have no real hate for it and don't regret the ~$13 I paid for it.

Games Beaten: 2011 Edition

1. Mario vs. Donkey Kong
2. Primal Rage
3. Torchlight Hat Trick
4. Ghost Trick
5. Flower
6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
7. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
8. Sly 2: Band of Thieves
9. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
10. Tales of Eternia
11. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
12. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
13. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
14. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
15. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
16. Dragon Age: Origins
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
18. inFamous Evil Finish
20. inFamous 2 Good Finish
21. Big Bang Mini
22. Final Fight: Double Impact
23. Breath of Death VII: The Beginning
24. Cthulhu Saves the World
25. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
26. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
27. Disgaea Infinite
28. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
29. Jeanne d'Arc
30. Dragon Age II
31. Jade Empire
32. Cthulhu's Angels
33. DeathSpank: Orphans of Justice
34. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten
35. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
36. Trine
37. Prince of Persia '08
38. Final Fantasy IV: Anniversary Edition
39. Professor Layton and the Last Specter
40. inFamous: Festival of Blood
41. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
42. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West


Short downtime between #s 41 and 42 is 100% because Enslaved isn't a long game. Playing shorties like that will certainly help me reach my goal of 50 that much more easily. Hmmm... how much does Heavenly Sword cost? Nah, I'll play something with a little bit more... reputation next.

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