Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PC) Review

By Javier Jimenez 25.01.2014 2

Review for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on PC

Once upon a time there was a 16th Century story from China called Journey to the West. It starred a monkey, and it was so good, so fantastic, so brilliant that it became known the world over and was copied again and again and again, from old movies to Dragon Ball. Then Ninja Theory made its own version of the story, set in the future, where mankind is near extinction, hunted by robots. Then it released an updated version on Steam and PlayStation Network with all the DLC...and it was really good; like, really frickin' good!

Which is almost strange, because when one looks at each part of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, it reads like a nightmarish catalogue of PS3-360 era buzzwords: cinematic, wall-running, cover based shooting, set pieces, Hollywood voice acting. It's got everything people think of when envisioning bloated, mish-mashed videogames that sell based on hype more than substance.

However, beneath all those bullet points is solid gameplay backed by a surprisingly sophisticated, well produced story and extremely effective, believable voice acting. This is not the likes of Halo, Grand Theft Auto, or Tomb Raider voice acting, full of lots of EMPHASIS in stressful scenes, silky sultry female voices, and stiffly delivered double-entendres (chortle). This is heavyweight stuff that effectively conveys mature emotional content to the player, and does that not just with charismatic, hammy line reads but with voice actors who deliver their lines with understanding as to the forthcoming turns in and overall significance of the story.

That might not be surprising, though, considering the protagonist is voiced by veteran actor Andy Serkis - of Gollum fame - with slightly less veteran Lindsey Shaw as the female lead, in a story written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Dredd).

Screenshot for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on PC

Enslaved isn't carried solely by strong cut-scenes and voice acting, though - the game itself is solid. Combat, while not Batman Arkham levels of fluidity, is quick, fun, and visceral. The close-up camera shots during finishers are especially effective. Meanwhile, encounters are paced well, with good play in the amount and length between story segments or exploration segments, and plenty of creativity in level, enemy, and tactical variety.

The same goes for the shooting: good controls, fun scenarios, mixed up well with the rest of the game, which really sort of describes everything right about Enslaved: it all meshes well, is paced adequately - there is a lot of creativity and variety, from gameplay to story, from level design to enemy encounter layouts. It's almost a story of the triumph of design and quality engineering over what seems like a PR list of necessary features in this age of cash-in AAA gaming.

That's not to say Enslaved is the perfect game, however. There are technical glitches now and then, rare though they are. There are minor art concerns, low quality textures or particle effects here and there. The gameplay, while well designed and engineered, does rely on a set of core mechanics that edges closer to the "safe, banal" side of the pool than the "bold, unique" side. Even the ending, though more surprising and thoughtful than it really has a right to be, is not quite the shocker or cathartic, climactic experience one might hope for.

None of that really matters, though, because Enslaved is just damn good fun with a damn good story that, in an age of over-hyped, over-promised "cinematic action experiences," delivers better than any trite car jacking, tomb raiding, military drama blockbuster out there.

Screenshot for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Enslaved presents a unique, beautiful post-apocalyptic world in a way gamers wouldn't expect, with plenty of colour and some of the most ingenious, original character designs seen in video gaming this last generation. Solid, extremely solid - though not groundbreaking - and fun. Oh, and there's wall-running and acrobatics. What's not to like? An excellent soundtrack that never fails to carry the necessary tension, levity, or drama needed by the scenarios and scenes. While not short, Enslaved is not overflowing with content, with about seven hours for the main campaign and four for the DLC. Still, it feels appropriately paced and satisfying. Can Enslaved: Odyssey to the West be recommended overall, though? Yes, wholeheartedly it can! It is a consummate videogame, one of the best in the "cinematic action" genre - a genre littered with over-produced, under-designed products. Buy it, play it, enjoy it.

Developer

Ninja Theory

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

TheLateGamer (guest) 09.04.2017#1

Here's my honest 5.5 years late review of Enslaved @ http://www.thelategamer.com/video-game-review/pc/late-enslaved-odyssey-to-the-west-review/

Interesting concept! I like the idea of "late reviews" of sometimes forgotten titles.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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