Enslaved is the latest game form Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory. While having its problems, Heavenly Sword was a really good game that focused on the story and having a cinematic feel. This was a determent to the games combat, fortunately enslaved fixes some of the problems Ninja Theory had with Heavenly Sword, while at the same time creating one of the most beautifully realised worlds released this year.
Enslaved tells the story of Monkey and Trip, two people who have a troublesome start on a slave ship (in the sky) controlled by the “Pyramid” built mechs as it is crashing. After the crash Monkey is knocked out and subsequently “Enslaved” by trip. The headband that Trip places on Monkey forces him to help her, because if she dies so does he.
The story takes place on earth, in a time when civilisation as we know it has been decimated and the cities we know now to be overgrown and falling apart. How the world has fallen apart is never explained, all you know to begin with is that humans are being captured and you need to get trip to her home. It gives the game an eerie feeling at the same time as being beautiful and colourful. The graphics help realise the world with the attention to detail being as close to Uncharted 2 as I have seen a Multiplatform game get.
It is fitting then, that this game is also a 3rd person game, with a lot more gameplay variety than just shooting and climbing. Most of the interaction with enemies will be with Monkeys Staff as he is pummelling them back into scrap metal. There are sections where you use some basic shooting mechanics, which are available throughout the game along with a lot of platforming.
This is the first negative of Enslaved, the platforming looks fantastic but you just never feel in control because you can’t die. Not once did I die while accidentally trying to jump the wrong way. You might think this would reduce frustration in the same way as removing death from Price of Persia (2008) did, but this is also removing control. Slightly making up for this is are the fun cloud sections, surfing around switching leavers. The pacing in Enslaved is great, before you get bored of a puzzle, your platforming, and before that gets old some mechs turn up to fight.
The combat in the game is fairly simple; light and heavy attacks with a block and dodge. Sounds bad, and for those into Ninja Gaiden it is fairly tame. The animations are what makes the combat enjoyable, fighting a battle looks beautiful and it makes Monkey feel like he really is a strong person forced to survive in a wasteland.
Another of the few flaws of the game are the bugs, it feels as if the game needed to be released before the rush of games came out. Things like Monkey disappearing as he is putting his armour on, the sound cutting completely out during a cut scene and making me reset the PS3 on a few occasions just make the game feel slightly unfinished. The other thing that stands out about the game is the lack of environment variety. Everything is always green and overgrown, it would be good to see something that has been completely destroyed and explaining, if only partially why the world is like it is.
This is made extra annoying because of my enjoyment of the story, it can really capture someone and pull them through the rest of the game, even if it is not to their taste. The story isn’t original or something unexpected but it is told very well with voice acting, facial animations and motion capture that rivals Uncharted 2. I wish more companies would try to reach for this level of linear story telling. Maybe then we can care as much about characters as Ninja Theory made me care about Trip and Monkey, not to mention hating Pigsy when he shows up.
I may have been a bit vague in describing the game; I just don’t want to spoil the game for anyone. You should go into this game fresh, experience the story for yourself. The combat is fun enough and the platforming, while easy, can be enjoyable. I urge people to play this game, even if it is outside their normal comfort zone.