ENSLAVED: Odyssey to the West
Let me preface
this review by saying that I am analytical by nature -- I'm one of those people who watches a movie (or reads a book, plays a game, etc.) and says to themselves, "C'mon! That completely defies the laws of physics!" or "Oh, please. That is literally
I'd like to say right up front that if you're like me in this respect, you'll enjoy this game much more if you simply put reality aside and enjoy the game for what it is -- a game. Options
include separate sliders for music and effects, and subtitles are OFF as the default (turn them on in the audio section of the options.) You can play with the keyboard and mouse, or with a controller... or both, if you prefer. Keyboard controls CAN be re-mapped if you wish to do so. As for the graphics options, there are multiple settings, but the most notable (to me) are resolution settings from 800x600 up to 1920x1200, gamma control (brightness), and graphics quality. I REALLY needed this last setting, since my computer just barely met the required specs. I was able to play at the lowest quality (it was still gorgeous!) but I did occasionally have some lag.
There are two modes of play
to choose from; Easy and Normal. I chose Normal for my play-through, and I used an X-box 360 controller -- mostly. I'll explain later in the review.
From the main menu
you can choose to "Continue Journey", which of course continues your game from the last save point. Saves are automatic; just watch for the swirling blue symbol in the bottom right corner. If you choose to continue after you've already finished the game, you'll get to re-watch the game's epilogue. You can go back and try to get all of the collectibles via "Chapter Select" (it will give you stats on the collectibles per chapter from this section), and if you've gone back since finishing the game, "Continue Journey" will return you to the chapter you were last working on.
The Chapter Select
is available from the beginning of the game, though of course you can only access chapters that you've already been to (no jumping ahead in the story.) Just be aware that if you decide to go back and replay a chapter, whatever chapter you're currently in will be reset to the beginning.
So, what ARE these collectibles
I keep mentioning? There are two to collect in the main game -- "tech orbs
", which are floating balls of light, and as of chapter 3, masks
. The masks add a little bit of extra depth to the story, and the orbs you will need to grab to get upgrades. More on that later.
is pretty straightforward, but I'll add some of the info here so that you can get an idea of the gameplay and combat.
We have full 360-degree control
of both our character and the camera... most of the time. Sometimes we have only limited control of the camera, which I believe the devs did to help us know which direction we're supposed to go. There were a few moments when I simply could not figure out what I was supposed to be doing, but by taking my time to look around, I'd eventually spot something flashing. These flashing objects
are items that you can climb, jump on/to, clamber on, etc. Our character is quite acrobatic, but you don't have to stop and watch him twirl around to finish his maneuver before jumping to the next location; that can be fun, but when you're being attacked, I really don't recommend it. ;p
By the way, you generally can't fall to your death in this game. There are exceptions of course, but what I mean is that if you're up so high that death would be the result of falling, your character will simply refuse
to jump. You won't fall off of -- say -- a steel girder when you're clambering across, not even if you try reallllly hard.
Another nice thing the devs have added is that when you climb a ladder, it takes a single push of a button -- climbing up and down is automatic.
You have two types of attack
: Up-close combat and shooting, both of which are done with your handy staff. Ammo is VERY limited, so be choosy on what you decide to use it on! We have both plasma and stunning ammo. The plasma blast will NOT break through a shield, but the stunning ammo will. The only other thing that will break through a shield is a "charged" hit with your staff, which you do by holding down the attack button until the staff glows. 'course you could just run behind them where their shield doesn't cover, but what would be the fun in that?
(In other words, I'm not dextrous enough with close combat to be able to do it. *snicker* )
Wait, what about us? Don't WE get a shield? *petulant pout*
Yes, yes. *pats on head* We have a shield, too. Don't worry, the tutorial will explain all of that.
Let's get back to shooting
, shall we?
I really had trouble with using the controller to aim accurately when in the midst of combat. Eventually I remembered that I could use the controller AND the mouse, so whenever I needed to shoot something, I used the mouse, and used the controller for everything else.
Some of the mechs you run into will have symbols over their heads. These are enemies that you can do a takedown
on. Hit 'em until the prompt comes up, then push the appropriate button for the takedown. Highly recommended since it will affect any other mechs that are present, and absolutely necessary during certain boss battles -- there's no way to beat some of them without using the maneuver!
We have a companion
on our journey, which already know if you've looked at any of the game screens. Trip
has many abilities of her own, and she is also the reason we've been collecting those tech orbs. First off, though, let me explain a little bit about the dynamics.
We have a screen we can bring up to interact with Trip, and there we have some options
. We can tell her to create a distraction, run or do some kind of action (like flipping a switch for us), apply a health serum (provided that we have some), and the upgrade function, which is where the tech orbs come in. There are four sub-options for upgrades: Staff
, and Health
I'll let you discover for yourself what each category entails~
Trip is not the badass
we are, so sometimes she needs a little help... like picking her up and flinging her across a chasm... you know, that kind of thing.
How you, personally (not our character), feel about Trip is going to depend on your decisions. I know that's pretty vague, and perhaps even those who've played the game won't know what I'm talking about, but I can't really say more than that without giving spoilers (something I won't intentionally do.)
There is a widely-experienced GLITCH
during one scene in the game, and I'm putting this in spoilers in case you don't want to see the solution:
The second time we run into one of the mechs with wrecking balls for "hands" is where the glitch shows up. You hear something, but see nothing unusual. There's a brick wall there that's supposed to have broken, but all you see is a solid wall. Eventually one of these mechs will appear, but there doesn't seem to be a way to defeat it, no matter how many times you hit the damned thing!
The game is telling you to taunt it, but it just runs into one of those low walls and gets stuck there. *sigh*
What you need to do is taunt it until it runs into one of the large, solid walls -- the one right below Trip is the one I used (and maybe it's the only one that works, I don't know!) Once it hits the wall, you need to do a takedown in order to defeat it, so be sure you're close enough that you don't run out of time!
are stunningly beautiful. I have 147 screens at the moment, and am sure to have many more the next time I play (since I'll have the subtitles off during the next play-through.) The attention to detail is just incredible, with those little extra touches that really add to the scene -- the way things move in the wind, lighting effects, scratches on our characters' skin, scars, even pores! This dystopian world is really brought to life through the amazing graphics, and you know what? The creators didn't "cheat" on those areas where we have limited camera range. If you try aiming to shoot something, you'll be able to see the full 360-degree view, and that the graphics are still fleshed out in areas we shouldn't be able to see.
My one gripe is that cutscenes cannot be skipped
, so if you die soon after a cutscene, you'll have to re-watch it. >_< I read somewhere that these scenes CAN be skipped, but nothing I tried worked for me. If you know the secret, please share! It'll be nice for the next time I either re-play or try to get all of the collectibles!
The voice acting
is excellent, and the characters are full of personality. I generally didn't notice the music
, and to me, that's the mark of really well-chosen tunes... It means that the music so perfectly fit the scene(s) that it wasn't jarring, annoying, or feeling out-of-place. The sound effects
were great, too. ^__^
I felt that the ending
was ridiculous in some respects, but that's because of my aforementioned habit of analyzing things. It may have felt unrealistic to me, but it ALSO felt compelling, thought-provoking... profound. You have to realize that the storyline presented in this game is based on a story that is four hundred
years old, and that explains some things that might have bugged me more, otherwise.
_________________________________________________________________EXTRAS (unlocked upon completion of the game):
- Pigsy's Perfect 10 - Play as a lonely Pigsy just looking a bit of company*
- Classic Monkey - Changes Monkey's outfit to red & gold and doubles his striking power
- Ninja Monkey - Monkey becomes outfitted in black, and he has unlimited stunning and plasma ammo
- Sexy Robot Trip - Changes Trip's outfit and doubles the length of all stunning attacks
*Pigsy's Perfect 10, additional info:
You can set options separately for this portion of the game, and remember to turn on the subtitles
if you want them! The controls are different, since Pigsy has different abilities, and we have two kinds of collectibles (though I won't spoil it by telling you what they are
The music, the one-liners, the voice, the way Pigsy runs... all so freakin' funny! What a hoot this guy is! It seems like this section was a couple of hours long, but I can't be sure, since I kept getting interrupted. The gameplay took a lot more thought that the main game did, and I enjoyed it, though towards the end it started feeling a bit repetitive.
I think that Pigsy's bonus adventure may have originally been meant to be part of the original game because half of the cutscenes were the polished, gorgeous visuals we became accustomed to in the main game, whilst the other half were cartoon-y and unfinished. A nice thing the devs did for us on this bonus portion is that we don't have to keep re-watching cutscenes if we happen to die. Much preferred!
Overall, the bonus chapters are well-worth playing, and a lot of fun... and I took some really great screenshots during this portion, too -- something that always makes me happy
I had taken a break from the ENSLAVED early on, and decided to just start over when I came back to the game. It is of note that I still had all of my upgrades and all of my tech orbs, despite having started a "new journey
". The orbs that I had originally grabbed were gone, and only the ones I'd missed were there to collect. I would have expected that on the Chapter Select option, but surely didn't expect it for a new game. I don't know if there's a way to reset it to have a completely "fresh" game, and I'm not ready to experiment with it just now, so I can't give you any answers on that one.
For those of you (like me) who love achievements
, there are 58 to earn in ENSLAVED, though I really don't know how a couple of them are possible
In case you missed it previously, the Chapter Select section shows you the percentage of orbs that you've collected per chapter, as well as how many masks you might be missing.
I really enjoyed everything about this game (with the one exception that I already mentioned) -- from the sights and sounds to the story to the gameplay, I just enjoyed the hell out of it. I have to agree with those who have mentioned that this is a hidden gem. I really do think that the game deserved a lot more attention than it got, and I highly recommend
it to any action-adventure fan.