The lights are on
Enslaved is fun. That's the best way to put it, because regardless of any of the shortcomings, it is never derailed at any point by any overwhelming problem. The story follows Monkey, a brutish warrior who found himself trapped on a slave ship with fellow prisoner Trip, a tech-wise woman who sends the ship spiraling down into the ruins of New York City. Upon escaping on Trip's pod, he awakens from the crash landing with a slave band on his head, controlled by Trip. She demands he help her make it back to her home, since she wouldn't make it on her own. If she dies, Monkey dies.
The gameplay is repetitive.The enemies, mechs, come in 4 distinctive types, with a couple of variations of Each, typically normal or with shields. While you see them repeatedly over the course of the game, malfunctioning mechs, which explode when Monkey gives them a little nudge, and EMP mechs which stun surrounding enemies when they are taken down provide some strategy in an otherwise beat-em-up combat system. The tech upgrades aren't particularly deep, but they are useful and give you incentive to find the orbs scattered across the level, and Monkey's expanded combat options, while shallow and rarely needed, are nifty nonetheless. Boss fights are standard fare, and while some are spectacular setpieces, one in particular loses it's flair the second time you encounter it.
The platforming is extremely easy. The only time I found myself punished by the game's climbs were when I grew impatient in the timing and simply jumped through flames or similar obstructions, which rarely damaged me too terribly much, and as has been noted fervently by many reviews, you cannot fall or miss a mark. You can mistime jumps occasionally, but rarely do they challenge players. Seasoned platformers will be quite unimpressed. I didn't mind Trip pointing out the path I needed to take at every turn, however, there are some combats that are frustrating when she repeatedly points out what must be done, even if you already know or can get the idea.
The story is excellent. It's not cliche in any way, the interaction between the limited cast members is amusing, and you find yourself caring about what happens to them as the game nears its conclusion. However, the ending does leave a lot to interpretation, and it didn't really give me as much closure concerning the two main characters as I had hoped. That said, the environments rarely change much. Overgrown city, junkyard, and mechanized interiors seem to be the only three types, and the latter two are unimpressive.
Overall, seasoned gamers will likely not be terribly impressed with the entire package, since the gameplay feels like it's been stripped from every other platform action game around, but it's friendly to casual gamers, and the entire experience is certainly worth a play. Team Ninja did a good job in creating characters as interesting as the cast in Enslaved, and it carries the tired gameplay as easily as Monkey carries Trip.
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