Loosely based round the old Chinese tale along with the 70s TV series Monkey and Damon Albarn’s Monkey: Journey to the West, Enslaved tells the tale of two slaves who escape from a slave ship which crash lands in post-apocalyptic New York. It’s bad news for Monkey then that when he wakes, teenage female slave Trip has placed a headband round his head that not only means he’s in great pain if he doesn’t do what she says – he’ll also die if her heart stops! And so they embark on an adventure to find her village and stop the slavers so she can find peace and he can get his freedom back.
Played entirely in 3rd-person, the game’s a mix of combo-based combat and Uncharted-style leaping and climbing. There are also some boss battles and drivng sections thrown in for good measure and you get to ride on Monkey’s Cloud which is in effect a hoverboard. You’ll also have to keep Trip alive by protecting her from mechs and carrying and throwing her to new heights. It reminds me of like a cross between the original Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Ico.
Combat actually gets better the more you get into the game. Armed with a staff you can buy upgrades for, thanks to tech orbs you find scattered all over the place you can beat mechs round the head or fire stun and plasma bolts at them. Climbing about the fantastic landscapes is also great fun although you can’t fall to your doom unless you a ledge crumbles from underneath you. It does stop frustrating accidental falls but also makes the game feel very linear in nature.
There are also switch-based puzzles to solve but these are well put together and don’t feel too samey even though you are in fact doing the same thing a lot of the time.
The main thing that makes this game a real joy to play is the story and characterisation. Andy Serkis once again provides his talents for developers Ninja Theory and the facial capture really is something to behold. There’s real emotion in Monkey and Trip’s character models and this makes looking after her a really meaningful experience. And when the pair meet her old pal Pigsy the humour really ramps up and is laugh out loud funny in places.
The game’s not overly long but you can go back and play chapters again to find all the secrets and masks that make your headband glitch and seem to show Andy Serkis’s holiday snaps for some odd reason!
Without the great production values this game would be a rather standard affair but thankfully the characters and story make it a great experience. It gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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