The plot of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is loosely based on the Ming Dynasty Chinese literature classic Journey to the West. Monkey and Pigsy are two familiar characters that have been reimagined into a post apocalyptic future where mechs and slavers hunt the last remnants of humankind. The script was written by novelist Alex Garland (author of The Beach, scriptwriter of Dredd) and features Andrew Sarkin (of Gollum “my precious” fame) as Monkey. The female lead is Trip (short for Tripitaka, the three baskets of Buddhism), a young techie who enslaves Monkey as her protector on a journey home.
Playability: Smooth and agile
Enslaved’s gameplay is worthy of the most agile primates. Monkey is equipped with a staff that serves as both melee and ranged weapon. With little effort, the average combat mech will be swiftly punished with close combat disembowelment or explosive canisters from a distance. While Monkey is an agile and supple brawler, Trip has a few nimble tricks up her sleeves, including a holographic decoy and an EMP blast. The mechanics of this Odyssey to the West is a superb balance between elegant combat, sprightly platforming, and puzzle solving.
Annoyance: Tough giant mechs
It is hard to get annoyed on this Odyssey to the West. Platforms and puzzles can be challenging but the decorum is just so gorgeous that an old video gamer would feel he has the whole time in the world. The occasional jumping and running platform challenges will require multiple tries, but they are far from impossible. While the average mech is hardly a match for Monkey, the titans can be very nasty. The final bosses were particularly hard to dispatch.
Beauty: Wonderful post apocalyptic landscapes
Our civilisation won’t exist anymore but the ruins of our great cities, overgrown with forests, will be worthy of Machu Pichu or Angkor Wat. Of course there is a dark side to this dystopian future, but Odyssey to the West is full of sunshine, greenery and hope. Enslaved is performance art with great character animation, arousing acting, moving music and superb photography.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Splendid performance 9/10
You can always nitpick a game and exaggerate inconsequential scratches and flaws. There could have been more characters to populate the world of Enslaved, more wonderful decors to admire and more puzzles to bash. But at the end of the day, one ought to ask whether playing the game was enjoyable, and whether the hours spent were worthwhile. As in the best games, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West gave an old video gamer the opportunity to experience and to participate in an interactive performance of fun and discovery.