Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Preview
October is once again jam-packed with top-tier titles, and that includes Ninja Theory’s latest, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Although fans of Heavenly Sword had hoped for a sequel, Enslaved has been shaping up nicely and besides, the team is also hard at work on the new Devil May Cry. Concerning Namco’s colorful, engaging action/adventure, which releases in only a few weeks time, it could end up being one of the year’s best. If you’re not yet convinced of a purchase, the playable demo just hit the PlayStation Network, and it’s well worth a look if you’ve been intrigued by the media you’ve seen thus far. You will also catch a glimpse of even more intense gameplay upon completing the 15-minute demo and the end result should be this- excitement. The holiday competition is insanely stiff as always but if this sample is any indication, we’ll definitely be recommending a purchase.
The demo gives us a chance to play through the introduction sequence: The Escape. Monkey and Trip are on a giant slaver ship that is rapidly breaking apart; Monkey breaks free of his busted “slave pod” thing and throughout his harrowing escape, he spots the mystery woman who appears to have the same aim. You will then embark on a fast-paced mission that lets you try out the game’s platforming and combat. Monkey is a quick, powerful, and generally competent character who is capable of leaping and attacking with supreme accuracy. He finds his “stuff” early on, which means he’s able to deal with the mechs by utilizing a staff weapon. Square is a basic attack and Triangle executes a flashy heavy attack, and we’re also introduced to a few variations. For instance, tapping the Square button will cause Monkey to stun the enemy, while pressing Square and X at the same time will execute a Wide Attack that can hit multiple foes. Holding R2 blocks and dodging is as simple as pressing the left analog along with the X button.
Just a few things about the battle: you can’t move while blocking, and that may or may not prove to be problematic. Secondly, the camera seemed to go a little wonky at times, but I think that was because your first encounters with mechs are in very tight quarters inside the aircraft. We know there are lots of wide open natural areas in the game, so perhaps that won’t be much of an issue. Besides that, everything seems to work extremely well. The platforming is like a speedy version of Uncharted, as Monkey can leap to highlighted pieces of the environment with ease, and I also saw him finish off an unfortunate foe with slow-mo awesomeness. The demo continued to pick up with every passing minute, and there is one timed platforming element; if you fail, Monkey will plummet many hundreds of feet to his death. It’s awfully satisfying on many different levels.
I think what I like most about it is something I expected: the splendid voice acting, emotion, and story foundation we had in Heavenly Sword. Although it’s only a taste, the voiceover work by Andy Serkis (Monkey) and Lindsay Shaw (Trip) is great, and the animations for both are borderline spectacular. Serkis was King Bohan in Heavenly Sword and Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy; you may recognize Shaw’s voice from “10 Things I Hate About You.” Then we’ve got Alex Garland (author of the novel, “The Beach” and the screenplay for “28 Days Later”) penning the script, which should be really entertaining. The atmosphere, premise, and performances are all guaranteed strong suits for Enslaved, and it seems as if the gameplay is more than effective. The demo is a must-play and we can’t wait to give the full adventure a try.
9/21/2010 Ben Dutka