This time, I’m taking a look at the 3rd person hack-and-slash game that got overlooked this past year.
I have to say, I really wonder why this game got overlooked last year. Sure, it’s not the greatest platforming hack-and-slash of the year but there’s really nothing that bad about it. It’s got plenty of the right things. I don’t know, maybe they released it at the wrong time. I’m glad I could play & share it though. You can see my Steam review here.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: Premium Edition. A Colorful Post-Apocalyptic Hack & Slash.
- Genre: 3rd Person Hack-and-Slash Adventure.
- Developed & Published by: Ninja Theory & Bandai Namco
- Platform: Windows, Xbox 360, Playstation 3.
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
The game was sold to me as the Journey to the West story set in the distant future with Andy Serkis voicing a grumpy main protagonist, Monkey. I can’t say no to that! If we continue to get these console-based ports over on PC with all released DLC set for a lower price, I’ll stay happy. This is the second game I’ve personally played with that business model and I can’t complain. (Metal Gear Rising being the other).
Overall Story & Gameplay Thoughts
The story is great, its well written and well paced, keeping the humor and/or seriousness of the situation at the right level the entire time. There’s plenty of emotional moments between the two main protagonists of Monkey and Tripp as they experience the hardships of the journey. The connection doesn’t feel forced, contrived or stupid. For the most part, it doesn’t seem romantically driven either. A refreshing change of pace. Though there are plenty of hints that there’s a deep connection between the two. While Monkey gives off the impression of being a survivor, he still has good humor moments. Tripp is a great character as well both in-game and from the story aspect. She never feels like a hinderance or nuisance….well…when she doesn’t fall through the floor or get stuck on ladders. That happened to me a couple of times when playing the game. But when she isn’t getting bugged up, she’s a compelling character to learn about.
Most of the challenge or antagonism comes come from the environment and machines that were designed for one purpose: to kill humans. The robots have no dialogue and little personality outside of their physical traits. On a quick side note, I wonder what these robots would do if they did succeed in their mission of killing all humans. Would they just self-destruct out of sheer boredom? Or take up knitting as a hobby? I guess we’ll probably never find out, will we. The game features two distinct gameplay areas, one involving combat and other puzzle solving with lots of “easy” platforming interspersed between and throughout the game. Given that the platforming is really hard to fail, I found that I didn’t like it all that much. It’s easy though and it does add depth to each area you explore and helps pace the game out so I’ll let it slide. Even if exploration only rewards you with currency to a fairly shallow upgrade system. Keep in mind that while I sound harsh on these points, it’s only because other games have done it better. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing new.
3rd Person combat that focuses on combos and blocking shots with a few special abilities. Combat is nice and responsive with plenty of weight to each attack and reaction. Dodging is a bit funky to make work especially when you can just use your shield instead to block the shots you need to. You do see a decent number of enemies in the game but the combat ultimately lacks in variety when it’s summed up to: spam the attack button till they blow up. There’s a “dog” boss mid way through the game that is built up as this big bad robot but when the actual fight breaks out? All you do is stun it repeatedly and spam your attacks, repeatedly, until it dies. It’s rather anti-climactic. The challenge usually comes in the form of groups of robots where some will try and stun or knock you back. Still, the combat is decent enough to keep from getting stale (if only barely) throughout the four hour campaign.
Business Model & DLC
I got six hours out of the game, four hours for the main campaign and two out of the included DLC short story. I think that’s just the right amount of content for the asking price. Any longer and the combat or platforming would have gotten stale or dull. Oh, right, I almost forgot to talk about the DLC. A surprising side mission where you control Pigsy, a character you meet in the main campaign, on a journey to find the perfect companion. As his physique is not designed for close up and personal combat, he can’t brawl it out with the robots. Instead, you have to use stealth, a sniper/assault rifle and tricks to get around the obstacles. It adds a different flavor to the game while showing you an enjoyable little side story. It’s a good thing it ends at two hours because the end level starts turning into a twitchy shooter arena which I didn’t find as enjoyable. What I did find more than a little heartwarming was Pigsy’s journey of self-discovery about his actual perfect companion. Kudos to the devs on this one as I enjoyed it quite a bit even after the four hours in the main campaign. It didn’t feel tacked on at all.
PC Settings & Port Report
PC Port wise, it’s not bad but its not the greatest port from the console. Optimization seems to be decent though I did experience framerate drops at times. The textures are starting to show their age. Additionally, I noticed that the character’s mouth doesn’t always stay synced with the voice acting. If you’re having performance problems and/or shadows are broken, you can go to this wiki article and input the fixes in the Enhancements section. One other irritation I should point out is the camera. The darn thing likes to fight you in the middle of a fight to show you what it thinks you want to see, usually Monkey smashing a machine into tiny pieces. It’s not game breaking but it can be annoying at times. Also, using a controller is highly recommended as the Keyboard + Mouse controls feel like an afterthought. A common problem with console-ported hack and slashes it would seem.
I recommend you pick this up if you’re looking for an overlooked, well crafted 3rd person hack and slash. It’s Sun Wukong in a post-apocalyptic, yet surprisingly colorful & beautiful world fighting robots. While the combat is a bit limited, the journey and characters more than make up for it. I enjoyed the characters, their interactions and the story overall.
Thanks for reading!