Games Review: Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
Publisher: Namco Bandai Price: �49.99 Format: Xbox 360 (also on PS3) Age rating: 16+ Score: 4/5 Stars
POST-apocalyptic games might be 10 a penny, but we bet you’ve never played one that takes its inspiration from a 16th century Chinese novel.
Loosely based on the literary classic, Journey To The West, Enslaved cherry picks the best bits and transplants the action from the mythical past to a bombed out future, where the remnants of mankind are fighting a losing battle against an army of killer robots.
Initially set in the ruins of New York City, you take control of Monkey, a brutish giant, who teams up with Trip, a tech-savvy young girl, when the pair escape from a slave ship. Their relationship doesn’t get off to the best of starts, especially when Trip tricks him into wearing an explosive headband, forcing him to become her bodyguard as she makes her way home.
Just like the book, the mismatched couple have to work together, but instead of battling flesh-eating demons and other supernatural beings, they have to pick their way across a post-apocalyptic landscape littered with military-grade robots, collapsing buildings and environmental puzzles. Luckily, Monkey is an agile chap, capable of leaping over walls and swinging across gaps without breaking a sweat. He’s also handy with his fists, has a staff for long-range attacks or close-quarter combat and can zip about on a hoverboard.
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Although you’re never directly in control of Trip, you can issue her with basic commands, forcing her to catch you up, pull levers or throw out an electronic decoy. She can also use a robotic dragonfly as an eye-in-the-sky, identifying safe routes and scanning the environment for enemy ‘bots.
The game plays out like some sort of futuristic road trip, with plenty of platforming, combat and puzzle solving along the way. It all looks spectacular, thanks to the wonderfully detailed environments and fluid game mechanics, but it’s the emotional bond that develops between the two protagonists that truly captivates – a fact that’s reflected in a series of sublime cutscenes that bring the game’s characters to life.
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Despite an over-reliance on button mashing and a twitchy shooting mechanic, there’s no denying Enslaved is a thrilling adventure. It’s a ripping sci-fi yarn and one you shouldn’t miss out on.