E3 2010: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Jun 21, 2010
What We Know
The latest effort from Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory drops players into a lush and vibrant post-apocalyptic world where two escaped slaves—the brute-like Monkey and the tech-centric Trip—find themselves inexorably bonded together. In other words, if one dies, the other dies too. Using their combination of strength and smarts, the duo must fight their way back home.
What We’re Seeing Now
I’ve been eager to get my hands on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for a while now, and I was pleasantly surprised that it played exactly how I expected it would. Monkey's attacks are fluid and devastating and come in a variety of styles from punches and kicks to staff strikes. The only enemies I encountered were formidable turret-packing robots, but they provided a good sense of the kind of technology vs. nature conflict that clearly sits at the heart of the game’s story.
The platforming feels like a mix between Uncharted and Prince of Persia, but a bit more exaggerated. Jumping between ledges, shimming up posts and swinging to platforms is effortless and the animations reflect it. The facial animations were also rather impressive even though the game stuttered at points and seemed like it still needed some polish. This isn’t terribly surprising since Heavenly Sword had some of the best character work to come along in a while, and, actually, actor Andy Serkis did the motion capture and did voice over work for Enslaved just as he did with Heavenly Sword.
Because the game puts such an emphasis on teamwork between Monkey and Trip, you will encounter situations where you will have to provide cover for the AI-controlled Trip in order to move her into position. One of the ways to do this is to yell at enemies, crude I know, but it works. Then, when the enemies focus their fire on you, you simply tell Trip to move and she’s make her way to your position. Other times, you can tell Trip to provide cover for you, which she’ll do by firing what looked to be flares of some kind to distract baddies. It’s definitely a compelling system, and I can’t wait to see how elaborate it gets over the course of the full game.
I’m referring to 2010 as the Year of the Beautiful Apocalypse on account of all the games on tap that take place in desolate yet colorful and vibrant settings, and while most of these titles are shooters, Enslaved has the benefit of being a third-person adventure game with a cleverly constructed narrative hook that ties directly into the gameplay. I was intrigued before, and now I’m in full on anticipation mode for this one.