Price Dropasaurus is a new feature where we'll be looking at games that maybe weren't worth the full price of admission when they were new, but are worth taking a second look at now that they've had their prices dropped. For our first installment, Rock takes a look at Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
Originally released in October of 2010, Enslaved really impressed those who were paying attention, but to the gaming public at large, the game went largely unnoticed. Developed by Ninja Theory and published by Namco, Enslaved went on to sell only 460,000 copies, less than half of the hoped-for million, despite the fact that the game garnered generally positive reviews averaging out to a Metacritic score of 82. The game can hardly be blamed for this, however, since Namco chose to release it in the busy fall season with almost no promotion. Who can blame audiences for passing on a $60 game they've never heard of, especially with so many other games vying for their hard-earned dollars? Well worry not, dear readers, because I'm hear to tell you why Enslaved is an incredible experience, made even better by it's excellent new low price!
Enslaved takes place sometime in the future. The world as we know it is gone, replaced by hostile robots controlled by the nefarious Slavers. The game picks up with our hero, Monkey, as a captive on a Slaver ship. Soon, however, he is set free by another escaped prisoner, Trip, and all hell breaks loose as the sabotaged ship begins to crash! This first level serves as an excellent introduction to the platforming in Enslaved. Monkey moves with a graceful fluidity, effortlessly leaping from one highlighted perch to the next. There's no trick to it other than spotting your next handhold, and the whole system works really well, making you feel like you're completely in control. Combat is simple, you won't find any crazy button combos here, and lightning reflexes aren't mandatory. Beating the robotic shit out of mechs feels great, though, and when the camera occasionally zooms in for a slow-mo close-up of a kill, brutal satisfaction abounds.
|Beating up mechs feels oh-so good!|
The world that's been created here is truly astonishing. Though the cities are destroyed, everything pops with bright, vibrant colors, making the world beautiful in its decrepitude. Monkey and Trip are animated amazingly well; as Ninja Theory has shown in the past, few other studios can accomplish convincing mo-cap as well as they can. The characters' faces emote in believable ways, and the voice acting is superb. This is all very important, as it really contributes to the feeling that there is a very believable, complex relationship forming between Monkey and Trip. For reasons that quickly become clear, Monkey starts out wanting to kill Trip. Very soon, however, things change in a way that is both organic and totally believable, and the effect is amazing.
|The friendship that evolves is believable and genuinely engrossing.|
There are a few puzzles sprinkled throughout the game, nothing insanely complex, but that's perfect for me, since I'm usually terrible at puzzles. All of the puzzles here are logical, and none really held me up for too long, while still giving me a feeling of satisfaction once I'd solved them. Also scattered through the roughly 10 hour story are a handful of boss fights and chase sequences. The boss fights, like the puzzles, don't really require any mental contortionism to get you through, but they definitely help to spice up the pacing of the game. The chase sequences are interesting; sometimes you're the chased, sometimes the chaser, and they certainly require a bit of finesse, but they provide an exhilarating surprise when they show up!
|The segments where the Cloud is used are fun little breaks.|
The conclusion of the story answers a lot of questions while raising new ones. We may think we're doing the right thing, but are we really? What if those choices affect those who are unable to choose for themselves? And finally, what is the nature of reality? These are questions that stuck with me once the final credits had rolled, and I imagine that they'll stay with me for a long while.
|The heroes must work together to survive.|
Verdict - 5/5
Rock can't help but feel threatened by all of the anti-robot sentiments thrown about in this game.....