Enslaved – Odyssey to the West – Review

g-enslaved200Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

(Namco Bandai for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano

How far should game developers go in service of a story? There will always be players who forcefully skip over any story elements in a game, rushing to get to the action, while others don’t even care if the action in a game is unpolished, enraptured as they are in epic storylines that can sometimes span hundreds of hours. Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory aims to please the latter group of gamers with Enslaved, a third-person adventure that follows the coerced coexistence of oafish but compassionate Monkey and the brainy Trip (cast firmly in the mold of HS‘ sexy/tough Nariko) as they traverse a post-apocalyptic America. Since its makers clearly want you to stick around for the whole journey, the game’s combat and traversal mechanics are quite simple and hand-holdy, as is the overall difficulty, so it will feel a little shallow to experienced gamers. It’s a worthwhile trade-off, though, since no one will run into any roadblock which prevents them from experiencing the entire story, which is excellent. From the chemistry between the main characters to the elegant plot, all told amidst gorgeous environments and livened with great voice acting, it’s impossible to not want to tear through to the satisfyingly bizarre conclusion. So get to it.