A ways into Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, there's a character you encounter who goes by the name of Pigsy. He's a squat, almost perfectly round fellow with an off-putting mustache, a belt buckle in the shape of red lips, and the word "sexy" tattooed on his knuckles. Pigsy is the type of character whose bizarre looks, in most games, would draw your attention like an industrial-strength magnet. In Enslaved, though, he's just one more face in a game that's bursting at the seams with visual character.
That's the first thing you notice when you lay eyes on this action adventure game from the developer behind Heavenly Sword. It is, by most any measure, a looker. Set in a postapocalyptic world where lush vegetation has sprung forth from the crumbling ruins of humankind, there's no shortage of vivid colors on the screen at any given moment. That has been a consistent theme every time we've seen Enslaved, starting with our first look at the game early in the year right on through our most recent impressions from E3.
What has required a bit more guesswork is figuring out what sort of gameplay to expect out of Enslaved. It's a game that seems intent on mixing up the pacing and style of play at every turn. At one point, you'll have protagonist Monkey and his companion Trip--the pair whose tense relationship forms the heart of the story--spend time slowly exploring the gameworld, climbing through ruined buildings and swinging across dangerous gaps. Other times you're solving a puzzle or engaged in melee combat with the slavers and robots that act as the game's antagonists.
The new demo of Enslaved we saw today at Gamescom 2010 threw yet a few more ingredients into that mix. A brief demo broken up into three distinct sections, it started off with a shooting gallery of a mission where Monkey had to quickly run through an old scrap yard using his staff (this being the future, it can naturally fire plasma shots) to do away with robotic enemies perched atop high lookouts with every desire to shoot him dead. Unlike earlier levels where ammo is scarce, encouraging more hand-to-hand combat, this area was littered with ammunition.
Shortly after that, Monkey makes his way to a boss battle alongside Trip and good old Pigsy. This fight requires you to avoid a giant metallic beast called the Rhino by zipping around on the cloud, Monkey's own personal version of a hoverboard. What felt like a third-person shooter five minutes ago now almost feels like a boss battle on a skateboard, as you're cruising around trying to trick the Rhino into damaging itself by either smashing into walls or going over bombs that Pigsy tosses your way from up high. Then, after the boss fight seems as if it's over, the Rhino snatches Trip and makes off with her, forcing you into a high-speed chase scene through a canyon filled with speed boosts and towers crumbling in the Rhino's wake.
Add to all this some genuinely entertaining cutscenes, and the result is a game that we're beginning to grow more optimistic about. You can expect to see Enslaved released on October 8.