|Enslaved: Odyssey to the West|
European box art featuring protagonists Monkey and Trip
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Games|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360|
NA October 5, 2010
AUS October 7, 2010
JP October 7 2010
EU October 8, 2010
Premium Edition PlayStation 3 & Microsoft Windows
October 25, 2013
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure / Platform|
|Media||Blu-ray Disc, DVD-DL|
Enslaved: 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, was made for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation Network (PSN) and later released on October 25, 2013.
The story is a re-imagining of the classic 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 is a story set 150 years in the future where a global war has ravaged the Earth, destroying most of the human race and leaving the world to be plagued by robots left over from the war, 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, awakening in a containment cell aboard a slave ship he escapes and accidentally causes the vessel to crash. He manages to reach a woman named Trip, who is trying to leave the ship via escape pod, but she ejects the pod without allowing him to enter. 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.
And thus, this uneasy partnership begins their journey to the west...
The player takes the role of Monkey in a third person perspective, using a variety of combat moves and platforming skills to overcome obstacles. In combat, Monkey utilizes a staff that doubles as both close-combat and long range projectile weapon.
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; even others can be used as weapons when the requirements are met. Other of Monkey's abilities include his force shield which blocks attacks and a "Cloud" device similar to a hoverboard. The gameplay also heavily focuses on platforming, where Monkey can scale and leap across the ruins throughout the game.
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. 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) and in key sections, Trip will scan the the surrounding area revealing hazards such as land mines or mechs on standby. She can also project a temporary hologram to distract enemies from Monkey.
Having no combat ability of her own, Trip is very vulnerable should she come under attack by enemies. Her only last-ditch defense is an EMP blast, which she can use to temporarily stun mechs threatening her. 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.
When enemies are defeated, they drop tech orbs that can be used to upgrade Monkey's abilities, allowing him to learn new moves and abilities for combat and devices, along with increasing his health, shields and overall damage.
Enslaved was first announced in September 2009, initially as just Enslaved for release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010, revealing the plot, first screenshots and other details including the involved Andy Serkis and Alex Garland, the former having worked on Ninja Theory's previous title Heavenly Sword. Serkis first involved himself with the studio as motion capture was becoming more prominent in video games. The gameplay was developed to include more variety than their last projects, with multiple approaches to scenarios, such as stealth to avoid combat altogether and/or using Trip's own abilities to their advantage. The design choice behind this according to creative director Tameem Antionades was to make portions of the gameplay more "tactical", being at times "a puzzle game in disguise" outside of the actual puzzle portions of gameplay. The combat itself opted less for the combination-style of attacks in most combat-heavy action games, being more accessible/stream-lined while including the different abilities, equipment, enemy types and scenarios to not become too easy either, still requiring thought. The involvement of Trip was to not make her a "dead-weight" to the gameplay, with her abilities instead being helpful with her own unique abilities, making her the "brains" while Monkey was the "brawn".
The use of motion capture was considered by Serkis to be akin to that in film where it supposedly helps craft a story in a virtual world. With the same method being carried over from their development on Heavenly Sword, the studio utilized the motion capture to benefit the story and characters, particularity with facial animations to capture better realistic emotions. The technology itself was said to be advanced, even requiring a mathematician for the more complex portions of coding. Beyond facial animation, most of the motion capture was utilized prominently during the cutscenes as many of the actions within the gameplay itself were considered "physically impossible". Serkis felt that the motion capture also allowed for better performances in the dialogue itself; that "if you don't feel in the moment of filming that the character is moving you or engaging you or transporting you somewhere, it won't work. So you take that right into the recording of the dialogue. So it's about trying to keep that that relationship on stage whereas in normal games you just go to the booth and record your lines".
Serkis was involved in the development of Enslaved from the beginning while Garland came involved 6 months later yet was fully involved in the script as one of the key aspects of the development according to creative director Tameem Antionades was "trying to change the course of gaming in terms of storytelling, with emotionally engaging characters". The script itself was for durations developed separately before joining with the gameplay developers in order to "mesh" them together. In order to achieve this, a cinematologist was employed to teach editing, camera and film language techniques. Such techniques along with the use of music were used to in order to make coherent transitions between cut-scenes and gameplay.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has received positive reviews. Much of the praise was directed at the art style, described by McKinley Noble of GamePro as "vividly detailed... that teems 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 McShea 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".
The game received 6 nominations from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences but won no awards.
It received an aggregated score of 82/100 on Metacritic.
Pigsy's Perfect 10
Pigsy's Perfect 10 is a downloadable content (DLC) expansion to Enslaved. Acting as a prequel to the main story where players take control of the character Pigsy, being a side-story rather than directly linked to not interfere with the events of the main game that followed. The DLC was first released on both platforms on November 23, 2010.
Pigsy, the comical porcine character known for his one-line zingers and questionable hygiene, finally gets his time in the spotlight. The Titan Graveyard is a lonely place and Pigsy really needs some companionship beyond the mechs that roam the area. He dreams of the perfect woman and embarks on a mission to build one from scratch using scrap parts he finds around the junkyard. In contrast to the main game which features strong, capable Monkey as the playable character, Pigsy is much more of a lover than a fighter. Pigsy's gameplay has a completely different gameplay dynamic, with a focus on stealth and sharp-shooting. He has plenty of tricks up his sleeves including a far-reaching hookshot, trusty sniper rifle, various grenades and devices, Trouble Vision eye piece and the aid of his trusty mechanical sidekick Truffles.
Upon its release, Pigsy's Perfect 10 received a fair to generally favorable response with an aggregated score of 79/100 on Metacritic. Like Enslaved, critics praised the quality of characterization and storytelling while others noted the varied new gameplay additions. GameTrailers found the story to be a "tale [that] is light-hearted, and you'll likely grow much fonder of Pigsy before the end", while GamesRadar concluded by stating "we can't say why it affected us so much, which is a testament to Ninja Theory's storytelling process –it just sneaked up on us and went somewhere really cool". GameCritics was particularly positive toward the DLC that "it builds on a character in a way not seen during the main game, but of equal import, the gameplay offered was not only interesting, but substantial enough to stand on its own".
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West game manual. Page 9.
- Same page as the previous reference.
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Super Review.
- Odyssey to the West game manual. Page 8.
- Tom Hoggins interviews Enslaved: Odyssey to the West creators.
- Stephen Johnson from G4TV interviews Tameem Antoniades.
- Tom Hoggins interviews Enslaved: Odyssey to the West creators.
- PS3MMNG interviews Ninja Theory's Nina Kristensen.
- GamePro reviews Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
- EDGE reviews Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
- Jim Sterling reviews Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West metacritic page.
- Brad Gallaway reviews Pigsy's Perfect 10.