Why is it that most of our post-apocalyptic fiction looks like it takes place in a giant brown sandbox? Would the world really turn to grayscale if all of humanity passed away? Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory doesn’t think so, and for its new game, Enslaved, it’s turned to sources like the History channel’s special Life After People for inspiration as to what the world might look like if homo sapiens ever became an endangered species. As you can see from these screens, the game’s colorful environments are a far cry from your average post-apocalyptic backdrop.

We first announced Enslaved in issue 198 of Game Informer. Since then Ninja Theory has been hard at work polishing the title, and they were kind enough to stop by the office and show us how the game is coming along.

For those who are not familiar with the title, Enslaved takes place 150 years in the future, after several decades of war, famine, and plague have eaten away the Earth’s population. A scant 50,000 people are left in North America, scattered across the continent in small tribes. Some of these groups function like hippy communes; they live out an almost Marxist existence as its members scavenge for food and technology. The remaining humans might be able to repopulate the planet if it weren’t for the giant slave ships that troll the East coast, kidnapping people and taking them out west where they are never seen from again.

Enslaved’s camera jerks each time Monkey delivers a hit, which goes a long way to making the action feel more brutal

At the beginning of the game, one of these commune members, a girl by the name of Trip, is captured by a slave ship. However, Trip is smart enough to orchestrate an escape, and causes the ship to crash. This is where she meets Enslaved’s main protagonist, a loner who goes by the name Monkey. Monkey is a wandering survivalist who is used to fending for himself. Trip sees how resourceful and capable Monkey is, and attaches a headband on his head, which will detonate if he doesn’t do exactly what she says. Unwillingly, Monkey’s primary task becomes taking Trip back to her commune.

The gameplay of Enslaved is a mix of action, platforming, and puzzle solving. Trip is equipped with a robotic dragonfly, which she can use to scout out areas and help Monkey chart his plan of attack. Monkey platforms across crumbling skyscrapers as easily as his namesake might suggest, and there is a rhythmic flow to all of his animations. Monkey can also send Trip into areas he might not otherwise be able to reach. For example, he could toss Trip up to a second-level platform so she can drop a ladder to him. Trip will also be able to initiate a holographic display that will distract enemies. This will give Monkey time to find safe cover or sneak behind enemy lines and turn an encamped turret against its own kind.

Ninja Theory has already said that it’s planning DLC for the game that would give players reason to hang onto their copy well after they’ve finished the story

In the world of Enslaved, old war robots are scattered across the environment like landmines, and Monkey won’t be able to avoid them forever. Fortunately, when the action does come to blows, Monkey is equipped with a retractable staff. Players will be able to mix up the combat with a variety of heavy and light combos similar to Heavenly Sword. Unlike Nariko however, Monkey’s weapon also performs ranged projectile attacks. After collecting ammo for his staff, Monkey will be able to stun robots with electrical bolts, or disable them altogether with a flurry of plasma blasts.

Ninja Theory cares about making a good game, but more than that it’s clear the developer also wants to tell a good story. To that end, it has enlisted some of the most talented individuals from the entertainment industry. Scriptwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later and Sunshine) has helped write Enslaved’s script. Andy Serkis – the actor behind digital creations like Gollum from the LOTR trilogy and King Bohan in Heavenly Sword – will provide the voice and motion capture for Monkey. And Nitin Sawhney, a film composer who also worked on Heavenly Sword, is even on tap for the game’s score. With this much talent backing an already skilled development house it’s hard to imagine that Enslaved is destined for anything less than success.