Enslaved impressions

Enslaved is the latest game to be developed and released by Ninja Theory, after their last major production Heavenly Sword. Released on October 2010, this action adventure, storyline driven game takes place 150 years in Earth’s future, where much of humanity and their cities are lost and decayed due to a ravaging global war that has left mechs and robots swarming the land, remnants of human technology prowess. You play the role of Monkey, and his reluctant partner Trip, across the country, finding Trip’s colony and the eventual revelation on why the world is left in that devastating state. So is this one of the most promising new IP to be released this year?

Im almost completing the game, and so far, my overall impressions are great. From the beginning of the game, you are immediately thrust into the post-apocalyptic world and your first task is to escape from a slave ship that is about to crash. You control Monkey and during your stay in the slave ship, the level serves as a tutorial, allowing players to get used to the movement and combat controls.

Upon escape (and a rough one) you encountered a young tech savvy girl named Trip, who without your consent, forced a headband around your forehead. This headband has destructive abilities should monkey disobey Trip with a touch of her mind. Soon Monkey realized that his life is in her hand and she would only release him once he agreed to take her back to her colony where her family awaits. The rest is history.

I have always been a supporter of original IPs when it comes to video games. This game is quite original from the get-go. Although the main story is loosely based on the ancient chinese novel “Journey to the West”, a unique approach has been taken to keep the ancient plot fresh and relevant. The reason why this game is not as original as I’d hope is that much of the gameplay elements were heavily borrowed from other games. You will realize that combat and platforming gameplay will be familiar to you, if you have played any of the Prince of Persia installments or even Assassin’s Creeds’ chapters, or that the action sequences were inspired from Uncharted franchise. Overall, the pacing of the story is good so far.

The characters are top notch. During the cut scenes, when the duo dynamism is in play, everything from their chemistry on set, to the CG model’s facial expressions down to the voice acting were meticulously well done. Credits have to go to Andy Serkis, who provided excellent voice acting that really gave life to the characters. The voice acting makes these characters in the game real, and very human. I was very surprised by the amount of effort put into nailing the small and minute facial changes and micro expressions in the game. Their effort really paid off and the sense of realism is markedly heightened  during gameplay.

The graphics are generally good, but nothing at the levels seen in Uncharted or God of War III. Colour palette is diverse, beautiful greens and browns and reds all over the visual canvas. The landscapes and scenery vary a lot is truly refreshing to look at at the same time giving positive outcome on man vs nature, where you will see nature taking over the urban landscapes of the post-apocalyptic city of New York.

Gameplay is generally good, with very solid combat controls and good feedback from platforming and combat as well. I wish there was a better variety of enemies to fight. Fighting mechs all the time can get tedious and you can count the different type of mechs and their cookie cutter tactics with just your 10 fingers. But still, the combat is not overburdened by multiple combo buttons that you need to press in order to nail that finishing move just to kill off an enemy.

Overall, if there is one aspect that I like the most, it has to be the voice acting. Its quite a waste though when the in-game cut scenes were not that fleshed out in order to admire and appreciate the great work done by the voice acting and facial expressions department. The scenes are usually short and sparse in between. Im sure that given more time, both Monkey’s and Trip’s backstory, together with their chemistry during their travels together could have given the attention it  truly deserves. Id highly recommend this game to anyone who would like to try out a new game IP while at the same time not being overwhelmed by how alien the gameplay is.

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