Publisher: Namco Bandai Games America
Developer: Ninja Theory
Reviewed by: Michael Cohen
Enslaved is the best game you’ve never played, hands down. How do I know that? Because nobody bought Enslaved when it was first released back in October of 2010. Despite the lacklustre marketing of the game, Ninja Theory (the devs behind Heavenly Sword) created a truly beautiful experience, start to finish. Reviews back then were actually quite high, and the game maintains an impressive Metacritic rating of 82 (of 100)…yet somehow audiences missed this game almost entirely.
Thankfully, Namco is taking a second kick at the can with the Premium Edition, which includes the game and all of its accompanying DLC. That’s the full game, alternate skins (which add special abilities to the hero, Monkey), as well as Pigsy’s Perfect 10, a sort of side quest starring one of the game’s supporting characters.
The core game here is excellent. However, there are a few bugs and it is lacking just a little bit of polish. You play as Monkey, voiced and performance-captured by the great Andy Serkis (The Hobbit, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), as he endeavours to survive in a destroyed world, overrun with killer robots, referred to as “mechs.” He meets a rather fetching woman by the name of Trip, a technologically gifted survivor, who enlists his aid by strapping a slave headband on him and threatening to kill him if he doesn’t help her. Their quest takes them across a ruined world to the West Coast of what was once the United States.
The gameplay is a mix of platforming traversal (ie: Uncharted), and combo based brawling (ie: Batman: Arkham Asylum). As mentioned before, the engine is a bit glitchy, and screen-tearing happens every now and then, but overall the game plays very well. The mix of traversal, brawling, occasional shooting, and sometimes even hoverboarding, makes for a well-balanced game that you’ll have a hard time putting down. It’s the story and its characters that’ll really keep you glued to this game. Andy Serkis does great things for performance-capture in this game, and the facial animation and environment really help to engross you. You will find yourself falling in love with the characters and their world by the end of the game’s storyline, which is full of twists and turns.
Pigsy’s Perfect 10, on the other hand, is a bit more of a tough sell. Starring one of the game’s supporting players, you follow Pigsy, a mechanic of sorts, as he traverses his junkyard home to find the pieces to build himself a companion. The gameplay is a mix of stealth, puzzles, and third-person action, but at times it just feels like going through the motions. The stealth isn’t deep enough to really grab you, and Pigsy’s cumbersome movement makes for some frustrating moments, but the cute story and beautiful cut scenes should be enough to pull you through the experience.
Enslaved is one of this generation’s hidden gems, and should be on your list of games to close out the lifespan of the XBox 360 and PS3, while you wait for new content on the next generation of consoles. I highly recommend it.