Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Updated Hands-On

We navigate puzzles, climb the countryside, and pummel our fair share of robots in our latest look at this action-adventure title.

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Enslaved plays one of the oldest trope cards in the books: two unlikely and often unwilling characters are forced to work together to achieve a common goal. It’s a scenario that Hollywood has relied on heavily with cop dramas and comedies, and one that Enslaved: Odyssey to the West falls into when it pairs a nimble but vulnerable young woman called Trip with Monkey, a hardened loner with a sketchy past. While the setup may smack of familiarity, it’s the emotional bond that quickly forms between the two that makes this an endearing story.

We've looked at Enslaved multiple times previously, but the deeper we get, the more apparent and heartfelt the union becomes. This time around we sat down with the sixth chapter of the game, a portion that really tugs on the heartstrings as Trip finally arrives home at her village, only to find it surprisingly quiet. The scene opens with a conversation between Trip and Monkey as the pair sit beside a fire. Asked what he will do once they make it to their destination, Monkey is aloof, saying that he is unsure what comes next. Trip assures him that because of his (compulsory) assistance in returning her home, Trip's father will welcome him with open arms. Monkey is clearly noncommittal, explaining that he'll go wherever he can find food and fuel for his motorbike. There's a sadness and tender vulnerability in Trip's quavering voice as her eyes dart around searching for a glimmer of solace as Monkey stares blankly into the night.

Cut to daytime, and as the duo approaches the village, Trip stops the bike out of fear that the security system will stop them in their tracks. They go the rest of the way on foot, but there's an eerie silence as they make their way towards a nearby security post to radio a request to disable the electrified fences over the bridge that spans the yawning chasm below. Trip is surprised to find the post unmanned; unusual since Mark, the local bridge operator, is a big fan of lowering and raising platforms to allow acquaintances access to the gated community. Monkey doesn't need any encouragement to perform his brand of aerial gymnastics, and he swings, leaps, and shimmies to the other side to activate a lever to drop the metal walkway for Trip. Hold points glow to show their interactivity and allow only a single path to your destination. There's no balance or momentum to contend with as you grapple from place to place, making platforming simple as you traverse the gaps.

Monkey loves to just hang around…

Some basic puzzle-solving comes into play as you're presented with a pair of parallel drawbridges across multiple levels. Though you won't ever actually play as Trip, you can directly command her to follow or to interact with environmental objects like levers through a radial menu by holding the left bumper/L1. Once across, we threw Trip up onto a ledge that was too high to reach solo and jumped headlong onto a bridge, only to have it crumble and disintegrate under our feet. Monkey’s nimble hands made quick work of a nearby tree, and we avoided the abyss by latching on to wild tendrils springing from the cliffside. Back on firm ground, we were given another bridge puzzle made up of four iron sections and as many levers. Not all of them moved the sections independently, and Trip commented that Mark was a big fan of the process because it required human smarts to be crossed--a sure-fire way to keep out those pesky mechs.

Like any relationship strong enough to stand the test of assembling kit furniture (or in this case, a bridge), we eventually made it to the other side together and continued on to the guard post atop a nearby hill. Trip commented that the towers were always manned, so it's a surprise that once we entered we were greeted not by friendly faces, but rather by blood-soaked paperwork and coffee cups left in disarray. Trip attempted to contact her community through a radio by broadcasting her presence, but was met by silence. Monkey was acutely aware of what was going on by the clues, placing a hand reassuringly on her shoulder only moments before Trip twigged to the situation, tears welling up and her voice audibly rattled by the realisation that something had gone very wrong. She broke away, scaling the hut and jumping onto a waiting zip line towards the quiet city.

Giving chase and yelling for her to wait, Monkey was immediately spotted by a group of mechs. Ducking into cover from the gunfire and scrambling back to the path outside the outpost, we spotted another nearby lookout with hopes of giving chase. Waves of robots attacked us, often in groups of three or four at a time, and required quick reflexes to evade their strikes. We found that the best strategy was to pick a single target--usually the special unit in the bunch, as denoted by a different enemy character model, or a symbol above their head--and take them down first. Takedown moves pop up after dealing enough damage and are single-button-press executions. Targeting and destroying an enemy that flings electrical bolts unleashes a small EMP wave, temporarily disabling its squadmates and helping turn the tide of battle in your favour by evening up the numbers. The game camera did occasionally hide the action, obscuring targets behind and to the side of us as we rolled to avoid attacks.

Take that, you oversized can opener!

A stationary, zoomed-out camera gave us a better look at our location once the combat was over, showcasing huge vistas with rocky outcrops and the village we were making our way towards. Climbing to a clearing, we stood in the shadow of the second watchtower, climbing its exterior before grabbing hold of the metal arms of the swing and gliding towards the city.

There's a tenderness to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West that sees Monkey's gruff persona melting away, especially as he casts a gaze on the fragility of Trip as the two make up a cohesive team. While the puzzling we've seen so far certainly won't qualify you for automatic Mensa membership, the combat is fluid and requires slightly more strategy than simply alternating presses of the light and heavy attack buttons. The story has already sucked us in, and we're eager to see how the events unfold. The game is due to ship early next month on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so keep an eye out for our full review soon.

Discussion

26 comments
axelviiii
axelviiii

I've been meaning to play the demo, but it seems unanimous that it's amazing. Definitely have to give it a go.

liamboi16
liamboi16

I've played the demo a ridiculous amount of times now. From what I heard about the game before I played the demo, I wouldn't have bought it, now, this is definitely on my must purchase list!

zcb4573
zcb4573

Demo is so good. Reminds me so much of Jak & Daxter. The hoverboard sequence? Dead ringer.

UnitedGamerz
UnitedGamerz

The demo was amazing it made uncharted look like childs play

manslayer2010
manslayer2010

I saw all the previews for this game and wasn't excited but when I played the demo it blew me away. Definitely a first day buy for me.

Animal-Mother
Animal-Mother

I enjoyed the demo enough to give it a rent. And probably a buy down the line. But with vanquish and new vegas around the corner I doubt it'll be for some time.

Dualmask
Dualmask

Argh, this sounds good. I need my PS3 back from the dead now.

dolihiotis
dolihiotis

Just finished the demo. The game is awesome...

dragonace89
dragonace89

I palyed the demo trust me this game is amazing.

arkno
arkno

oh and it was also a good game on PS1 back then

arkno
arkno

it is a remake of sayuki journey to the west and dragonball originated from that myth check it out it is quite a good story.

hamoking55
hamoking55

so they came up with a stronger than normal protagonist whose name is monkey and has an extendable staff as a weapon... sounds vaguely familiar... hmmm...??? almost sounds like dragon ball...

vadicta
vadicta

Doesn't look like anything too special. Cool, maybe a buy down the road, but not day one.

F-14-D_TOMCAT
F-14-D_TOMCAT

Sounds good, looks like its going to be an interesting game.

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

is it me or the game really really looks amazing? I have the feeling that the reason they dint do so well with Heavenly sword is because they dint have enough time to finish it up.

Paoksis
Paoksis

looks really polished....i hope it has an epic story,coz the scenery so far is really impressive and stylish

darkfall_225
darkfall_225

I really want this game, so I'm crossing my fingers that it gets a decent review score. No matter how good a game looks before release, it's never certain it's going to deliver the goods.

NEO101010
NEO101010

I dont know why ... But I like this game and I think it will be a great adventure !

True_Chaos_UK
True_Chaos_UK

The nature of monkey was irrepressible. MONKEY!

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I want the game to be epic but most action adventure games I get I usually get terribly bored with super fast... I'll just rent this one and pass on buying when it comes out...

Neosword
Neosword

I really hope this game sees all its potential come to fruition.

nate2442
nate2442

Looks better and better all the time... To many games I want to get coming up to Christmas...

lordgodalming
lordgodalming

I had written this game off, but the closer it gets to launch, the more interesting it looks.