Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | AND | IOS | PC | PS4 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | All

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PlayStation 3) artwork

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PlayStation 3) review

"Iíve had my sights locked on Enslaved: Odyssey To The West ever since I heard about it. That was a year ago. Granted, itís somewhat of a long timeóespecially for a brand new franchiseóbut given that it was developed by Ninja Theory, the masterminds behind Heavenly Sword, such a wait seemed trivial. And as the months went by, Enslaved received even more praise, including a very highlighted video at E3. I was even more excited for it. But Iím also a cynic, and between my momen..."

Iíve had my sights locked on Enslaved: Odyssey To The West ever since I heard about it. That was a year ago. Granted, itís somewhat of a long time--especially for a brand new franchise--but given that it was developed by Ninja Theory, the masterminds behind Heavenly Sword, such a wait seemed trivial. And as the months went by, Enslaved received even more praise, including a very highlighted video at E3. I was even more excited for it. But Iím also a cynic, and between my moments of dazzle-eyed anticipation I began to wonder: is everything theyíre saying about it--brilliant, captivating story, unique design, startling originality--is that all just hype to try and shine a halfhearted effort or is it a prelude for a game utterly worthy of the praise?

Truth? It was worth all of it and more.

For reasons that I wonít mention, I was immediately enamored and hooked on EnslavedÖokay, fine it was because Trip--your female lead character--is perhaps the most well designed (hot) and charming girl Iíve seen in a game. Sheís also a brilliant hacker and can be incredibly compassionate. Yet Monkey--your main male character--is totally oblivious to all of that. Yes, itís probably because the opening scene depicts her skittering about a massive slave ship while you watch on from your holding pod completely helpless. In her haste to unlock the doors and re-wire the system, she inevitably causes irreparable damage to the ship, inciting an explosion that sets you free. Around you, the transport vehicle begins to collapse, explosions become more frequent and entire walls rip away from the shift in cabin pressure. Your only option is to find one of the last remaining escape pods and ride it to safety.

Though you know not who this girl is, you continue to chase her--all until she enters shipís main hull and locks the door, leaving you on the other side cursing and slamming your fist into the glass. Without another option, you scale to the side of the huge aircraft and begin leaping around its casing, using broken girders and long pipes as handholds, each one glinting so you know where to go next. This is the introduction to the first of Enslavedís many interesting aspects. And though you may initially enter into it thinking youíre playing Assassinís Creed with a caveman, itís not to last. Without warning, the plane turns 90 degrees and the wing you were easily walking across turns horizontal, aimed directly at a huge building only a hundred yards away. In a panic youíre forced to ascend and back into the shipís interior before the entire wing slams into the building.

And if you thought you hated Trip before, youíre in for a rude awakening. Monkey eventually makes it to the final escape pod except thereís one problem--itís vacated by the gorgeous redhead. You cling to the outside and order her to let you in, but she ignores you and launches the pod--with you still attached--from three thousand feet in the air. How Monkey manages to stay on Iíll never know, but he does the entire way, until the pod crashes and heís sent flying into a broken down wall. When he wakes, he finds Trip sitting across from him, in stunned silence and simply staring while Monkey grabs his head in obvious pain. Trip, nonchalantly, explains the cause: a slave helmet sheís reworked and forced you to wear. Monkeyís anger gets the better of him and he closes on Trip, ordering her to take it off. But he doesnít make it far. With one command frail, meek Trip stops the massive man in his tracks, doubling over in pain from a poison released from the helmet. When he finally calms, and asks her why sheís done this, she tells him she needs his help to get home safely. Once sheís there, she will remove the helmet and allow him on his way. He threatens to just kill her and be done with it.

Poor MonkeyÖ

Thatís not an option for him either. If, for any reason, Tripís heart stops the helmet releases a lethal dose of poison. As she says If I die, you die.

It is your job, whether you like her or hate her, to make sure she survives.

I had my reservations about Enslaved prior to that point. After it, I held not one ounce of regret in making this my one allotted game purchase.

Many a times has a love story been told, but not once have I seen one developing under the veil of necessity. Monkey absolutely hates her to begin with, and sheís not too fond of him either. But there is peril on the road and countless dangers that could end one or both of them. They learn to depend on one other and combine their skills to survive. Situations arise where brute strength is required to battle a mass of robots that wonít stop until theyíre scrap metal. Trip tucks herself safely away while Monkey bashes them into obliteration with his energy staff. Other times you have to use that strength to hurl Trip across a long gap or high ladder that she couldnít normally reach or to lift an obstruction so that she can crawl safely under.

Sometimes strength is not enough. Youíll encounter Gatling guns and armed enemies that are hundreds of feet away. Monkey can use his staff to fire plasma missiles to take enemies down but the ammo is often limited. The only other choice present is to close the gap and beat them down the old fashioned way. But they are many and you are two. Their gunfire rips through you before youíre even halfway. So Trip, while sheís safe behind an obstruction, will use her computer skills to project a digitized image of you above her head, temporarily drawing their fire and allowing you time to sneak up and take them down. When the enemies are too big even for Monkey to handle with brute force, she can scan them--finding that crucial weakness for you. She can point out objects in the environment that may lend a helping hand. She eventually even gains the ability to update your weapons--adding more ammo to your staff or increasing your strength and health.

Iíve played with partners before, but the co-op works here better than others simply because Monkey and Trip are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Itís not both of you shooting an enemy with the same gun or watching each otherís back in an open area. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses; hurdles that can only be overcome with help from the other. Itís highlighted even further by how wonderful Enslaved tells its story (one loosely based on a Chinese novel)--through detailed facial expressions, superb acting and an incredible balance between those moments that are light-hearted and others emotionally crippling. The bond between them grows both in danger and times of peace and Enslaved brings an intensity with it that only further cements that. Scenes where Trip is caught on the back of a raging mech, forcing you to chase it down in an all-to-small window of time and free her before it crashes. And as you watch this unfold, though the game doesnít come right out and say it, you know the moment where it changes from needing to save her to wanting to.

Yes, a part of me was slightly annoyed that there was no real back story given right away and for a time I found myself wondering What is going on?, Why are there robots everywhere and no humans or the ever blaring one: Why am I a slave?. When the answers were finally given, it was well worth the wait and something I can easily look passed. The controls are slightly sluggish at times, but only when climbing. You really arenít in a situation where you fall to your death. He remains on one handhold until you go to the next. In rare instances it can take a couple tries before he responds, but itís only when exploring. During those intense, do-or-die situations they are incredibly tight. Trivial, again, in my eyes.

And though this may be blasphemous, or perhaps an utter sin, playing Enslaved: Odyssey To The West made me forget all about a sequel to Ninja Theoryís other project Heavenly Sword. Looking back on it now, that may have been simply a test run before they created their masterpiece. Enslaved is that--without question. Heaven may be closed--for good--but in its place something far better has risen; a much grander epic taken its place.


True's avatar
Staff review by Greg Knoll (October 10, 2010)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by Greg Knoll [+]
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) artwork
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS)

They then thrust them into a meek storyline that does nothing to supplement the Golden Sun epic or answer the questions made at the end of The Lost Age, only gives you random, useless insights to the after-effects of Issac and his groupís end goal. Most of these are meaninglessówhat alchemy did to the lan...
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PlayStation 3) artwork
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PlayStation 3)

Even before its release, Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood was the victim of utter scrutinization. Many knew the premise, but most wondered if the ideas present werenít more than fancy add-on content. Multi-player they said. You donít need to make an entirely new game for that! Angry retort from the
Condemned 2: Bloodshot (PlayStation 3) artwork
Condemned 2: Bloodshot (PlayStation 3)

Iím the type of person who easily forgives flaws. So long as a game has one incredible, striking element I can ignore shoddy camera angles, loose controls or bad graphics. Itís a requirement that shifts depending on which genre Iím playing. For survival horror, it simply has to do one thing: terrify me. Do that, and Ií...


If you enjoyed this Enslaved: Odyssey to the West review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
fleinn posted October 12, 2010:

1st. thought: gushing praise. 2nd thought: hmm. :)

Liked how you focused on the play between the two main characters. I've only played the demo, but it seemed like they've kept the character development in focus, along with the drama. So that the screenplay makes sense, and this actually grabs you, instead of that they come off as just putting in difficult animation scenes to show off motion capture tech.

How did that work throughout the game, though? I think I get that you are definitively in love with the story (and Trip :p ). But maybe it could be possible to pick out a small piece of the screenplay to point out how..? Something about when Monkey goes from protecting Trip out of self-preservation, to obligation, and then (presumably) genuine emotions..? Do the things you do in the game as a player allow you to follow this development in some sense, or are you always following a script..? Can you see if there are some spots where you maybe can hesitate for a short while, as the scene moves on..? You mentioned the part in the demo when the wing smacks into the building - are there more scenes like that?
board icon
CoarseDragon posted October 12, 2010:

So you can multi-player? One person as Trip and one as Monkey? That sounds pretty interesting but is there always something for the other person (Trip) to do beside watch Monkey pound on some robots?

You do not need to have "and" in this sentence I don't think.

"In a panic youíre forced to ascend and back into the shipís interior before the entire wing slams into the building."
board icon
True posted October 12, 2010:

Fleinn: There are plenty of moments where you think Monkey is no longer obligated to her, and responds purely out of emotional attachment and there's one really powerful scene where you know he's not. The wonderful thing about Enslaved--and the difficult part about reviewing it--is that these encounters aren't at the beginning or even the middle before you're attached to these characters. They build up to it, and while it's far more powerful that way it makes it hard to actually include them without giving anything away. It moves fairly quick in terms of progression, and what you may think the object of the game to be--returning Trip--isn't the whole story. It does lead you there no matter what you do. You can stall in some places just to hear extra dialogue between them, but doing so in most areas would most likely get Trip killed.

As far as the plane scene, there are a couple more that are just as intense and a few other ones that aren't as hectic. It usually involves rescuing Trip, or chasing down a mech within a time limit before it has a chance to get to her.

I appreciate the input and will definitely try to work something out that I can put in to describe the bond without spoiling anything for the reader.

Coarse: No multi-player unfortunately. It would be a cool idea, definitely and maybe for the sequel.

I'll fix that sentence. Thank you.
board icon
Leroux posted October 12, 2010:

I've got to play devil's advocate a bit here.

A few weeks ago, someone submitted a video for the opening to this game (I think it's under the 360 section). And I watched it. And the exact opposite of "startling originality" came to mind, because the whole thing reminded me of Prince of Persia, and Assassin's Creed, and Uncharted, and five other games only with a different character. This looked like the exact kind of stuff I've played already, hanging from ledges and everything. I don't play a lot of new games, and I wasn't sold to make this one of them.

So hearing that opening detailed for -three- paragraph didn't do it for me. And that was the demo anyway. So I guess my point would be... spending three paragraphs on the demo material is probably not good strategy for a review, because the demo is already available for interested parties and anyone unimpressed by it has reason to throw the rest of the review into question.

(I might be a in a huge minority being unimpressed here. Probably.)

I don't know. There's a fine line to walk between too much and too little, especially with new releases, but I was more interested in the "peril on the road and countless dangers that could end one or both of them" and there wasn't enough of that to make me rethink my initial impression. Not a bad review by any means, but it didn't change my feelings after the demo, the risk when heavily detailing that part.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

I'm only about halfway through Enslaved myself, but I can tell you that the game has been at its best when it makes the most of the two-character mechanic, in which you and Trip work together to solve puzzles, get past heavily-guarded areas, etc. You can't get a feel for that in the demo, so I don't think you should necessarily dismiss the game based on that alone, but I have to agree that True's decision to focus on that was a bit odd.

I must say, I'm having incredibly mixed feelings about the game. The story is wonderful, as is the chemistry between the two leads, and there are some terrific Uncharted-esque set pieces and moments of ingenious design. On the other hand, the platforming runs on autopilot and the combat is an absolute disaster. I don't like feeling this conflicted.

I really want to love this game. It's got some fantastic artistic merit held back by sheer mechanical incompetence.

On a side note:

but given that it was developed by Ninja Theory, the masterminds behind Heavenly Sword, such a wait seemed trivial

Now THAT is a phrase I never thought I'd read.
board icon
True posted October 12, 2010:

I feel for you, Mike. I'm incredibly torn as well. I understand where you and Leroux are coming from. For those who have not played the demo it works, for anyone who has that part--at least--doesn't introduce anything new.

I'll look through it again and I want to play it on hard for the trophy so I'll try and find another part that I can focus on, but that was why I found Enslaved so incredible. It wasn't just the story, but how they told it. I could describe the scene with the Rhino running away with Trip and your desperate race to save her before the thing crashes, but if you haven't played it and spent so much time trying to keep her from harm's way, I just don't see it having the same impact. The first chapter seemed like the best option in regards to a summary, but you're both right and I could afford to be a little more detailed for the later story.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

I actually made the rare decision to play the game on the highest difficulty from the get-go, and I'm wondering if I may have shot myself in the foot by doing that, as there have been some combat-heavy situations that have really given me a lot of frustration. Still, my biggest complaint so far -- the horrible combat camera -- has nothing to do with difficulty.
board icon
True posted October 12, 2010:

If you beat it on easy or normal, upgrade then go back to chapter select and choose "hard" you can use everything you've gathered previously. And I think most of the tech orbs are present in all three difficulties, so you're not really losing anything if you opt for easy or normal first (except maybe pride).

As far as the camera angles there was one area where I about had a stroke and that was in the battle against the Rhino. There was one trophy that required you to beat him without getting hit by the charge. While that seems easy enough to do, I kept having to turn the camera to face him and wait until he was almost by me to "cloud" out of the way. With no targeting system it was just so much harder than it needed to be and I ended up fighting him about 30 different times for that one accomplishment.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

I want the achievement for beating this game on Hard now that I've started, and I only have the game until Friday, so I'm sticking with it.
board icon
True posted October 12, 2010:

What's cool--and I'm not sure if other games do this--is if you beat it on Hard it will automatically give you the one for normal and easy as well.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

I'm now wondering if I should drop the difficulty before I break the fucking disc in half. Good heavens is this game broken. How the fuck did you enjoy this garbage?
board icon
True posted October 12, 2010:

I couldn't even imagine playing it on Hard without all the shield and combat upgrades they give you.

I played normal to start out with. That's probably why. Even then there were a couple places where I got frustrated as hell.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

I'm at that part right after you restore the windmill and you just get pounded with shit over and over. These fucking red robots are so fucking hard to kill. And what the hell is the point of having a dodge move if all of the enemies' attacks home in on your position anyway? Ridiculous. I know I'm in a fit of rage right now, but the combat absolutely destroys this game.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

Finally got past it. Man, writing my review will be very interesting.
board icon
zigfried posted October 12, 2010:

In reading this thread, I think I've realized the reason that many such games don't let you pick the "hard" difficulty until you've beaten an easier setting.

board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

Well, that's the thing: It's not simply that the game is too hard. I can handle a challenge. But the game is just flat-out broken, and that's why playing it on the highest difficulty is such a pain in the ass.
board icon
Suskie posted October 12, 2010:

Fuck it, I'm putting it back down to Normal. That Dog fight at the end of Chapter 8 was too much. No achievement is worth this.

Edit: Okay, the combat does suck, but at least it's manageable now. I'm having a much better time.
board icon
CoarseDragon posted October 13, 2010:

I just have to let you know that from this sentence I had thought there was multiplayer co-op.

"Iíve played with partners before, but the co-op works here better than others simply because Monkey and Trip are on opposite sides of the spectrum."
board icon
True posted October 13, 2010:

Thanks, Coarse. I'll look at that.
board icon
fleinn posted October 13, 2010: Staff? The entire "not actually awful" thing only makes sense in some sort of context :p
board icon
zippdementia posted October 13, 2010:

I wondered about that, too. I went and browsed the web after seeing that, but... well, most places seem to actually have been looking forward to the game.
board icon
Suskie posted October 14, 2010:

Just finished the game. Last level was absolutely spectacular, but the ending was really half-assed. After the final boss, it felt like they were rushing to finish the story so the credits could roll. The game deserved a better send-off than it got.

Still, I think I'm settling on the conclusion that Enslaved is a good game despite its constant attempts to convince me otherwise.
board icon
zippdementia posted October 14, 2010:

I really will pick it up. I loved Heavenly Sword.

Interestingly, I seem to remember Suskie cursing out the ogre-level in Heavenly Sword similarly to his cursing out here. Seems the company is nothing if not consistent.
board icon
True posted October 14, 2010:

I think you'll like it Zipp. I wouldn't recommend starting on Hard, just because it's brutal. But you seem to be a lot like me, and prefer the games that take a bit of a chance, and lean more towards the artistic side of things as opposed to construction. Enslaved does that incredibly well, so much so that I could look past all the minor flaws in design.
board icon
Suskie posted October 14, 2010:

Interestingly, I seem to remember Suskie cursing out the ogre-level in Heavenly Sword similarly to his cursing out here. Seems the company is nothing if not consistent.

Oh yeah, I remember that! Yeah, fuck these guys!

"Art over construction" is a good way to put it. Enslaved is very rough around the edges, but its artistic merits make it worth playing. Kind of similar to Heavenly Sword, which I felt was an average game whose artistic merits made it worth playing.
board icon
- posted November 20, 2010:

Haha, I'm sorta surprised Suskie ended up writing a really positive review overall for Enslaved given how much it annoyed him. An aspect this seemingly broken--it does put me off slightly, but I trust that most of the outstanding things that the game does right make up for it. I'll be looking to pick it up once the price drops sufficiently enough (given the relative lack of value).

I've also learnt not to start on Hard. In fact, maybe I'll consider dropping to Easy so the terrible parts bother me less.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Policies/Ethics | Contact | Sponsor Site | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2019 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.