Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

I remember when Enslaved: Odyssey to the West first came out. Somehow it looked interesting to me. Then I saw that it was only on Xbox. That was the first time I threatened to get a game if it came out on PC. Three years later, it did, so I ponied up some money a few months later. I only now got around to it, and I'm glad I did.

A colorful screenshot of Enslaved, showing a robot factory

Unlike a few other post-apocalyptic games, this one isn't set after a nuclear holocaust, disease outbreak, asteroid impact, zombie emergence, alien invasion, or disintegration of the world. This game is set about 200 years in the future, and a long time after a robot apocalypse. The designers took advantage of this, and made this the most colorful game in it's genre, and crammed loads of detail into appropriate places.

This game is an adaptation of the Chinese novel Journey to the West, in the way a square peg can be adapted to a round hole. The player character technically has no name, but others call him Monkey, maybe because he climbs and jumps over everything. He is escorting and enslaved by Trip, a teenage hacker girl. The game opens with both on an airship after being taken as slaves. Both are partially responsible for it crashing. Yes, this is another game that's set in a destroyed New York City. About half the game is getting from where they are to the crash site, because Monkey says his motorcycle was on it. They use it to escape a killer robot dog. Spoiler: every robot is a killer robot.

Gameplay is a refreshing pattern of entertaining combat broken up by linear parkour platforming. Even though you are escorting an NPC throughout the entire game, she is absent for some parts. When she is around, she's not totally useless. Trip has a neat ability to project a sparking hologram that distracts enemies, and you can tell her to flip levers and switches. Monkey appears to have metal boxing gloves, but he mostly uses his staff to whack robots. It also has the ability to fire plasma or electrical bolts. Usually when near water, his cloud activates (it's a magical hoverboard). When arriving at an area, Trip launches a flying scout, often revealing mines, which show up on Monkey's enslave-o-vision or whatever.

The writing and acting in this game is good. There's some scenes that I rather like, but near the end, Monkey does something that erases my compassion for him. Trip goes through some emotional trauma, but gets over it and doesn't let it get in the way of the job. Even though he's the muscle of the team, Monkey is not stupid or void of interesting personality and ambition. The only real criticism that I have with the story is that there are too few characters in the game and character development has gaps. There's about four characters; one is a real pig and doesn't show up until about two thirds through, and you don't find the antagonist until the epiloge. Monkey mentions that he's a feral wildman (and technically has no name), but mellows out by the fourth chapter. Trip does not show any compunction against slavery and not upholding her word, and gets over death fast.

The DLC consists of three character skins and an appreciable backstory of the third character. It's called "Perfect 10", but I have no idea what's so perfect, or even what the ten things are. The gameplay is very different from the rest of the game. This character isn't as physically gifted, so he can't jump and swing on things. He doesn't do close quarters combat well at all, but he does have a sniper rifle with what seems like unlimited ammo.

Overall, I recommend this game. I discovered a refreshing style and entertaining characters, even if the story and gameplay lack memorizing awesomeness.

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