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Quick Critique: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

When it comes to videogames, story isn't a necessity, a game can still be great and involving without one by purely relying on game play, just look at Super Mario or Team Fortress. Story in videogames is more of an option, its something that can enhance your experience and pull the player deeper into the game's world, if done properly. In the case of Enslaved its developer, Ninja Theory, made the choice to focus on story first and game play second, to some mixed results.

Enslaved takes place in a post apocalyptic future where the rest of humanity is hunted and captured by robots controlled by a presence simply known as Pyramid. The story follows Monkey, a loner and our protagonist, who is forced to accompany Trip, a tech savvy girl, on a journey to her camp (hint: it's west). The twist here is that Trip has placed a headband on Monkey, which forces him to comply to her demands because if he doesn't she can kill him, and if she dies he dies. The relationship between these two characters takes center stage here, as they slowly build a friendship with each other. Both Monkey and Trip have a good report with one another and the performances from both Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw are a joy to experience. The story itself is both fun and involving, but has some predictable twist, and a pretty lackluster ending.

With such a focus on storytelling it feels as though Ninja Theory forgot to put a game in their videogame. Don't get me wrong its there its just not much. Levels for the most part are a linear affair that only deviate for the occasional collectable, with some heavy hand holding plat forming sections, some battles, and a few puzzles scattered with in. The only times the game doesn't feel automatic is when Monkey hops onto his hover board like device called the Cloud. In these sections you have a sense of freedom and you don't necessarily feel restrained by the game. Combat isn't so bad itself, its relatively simple since you are only given a light, a heavy, and a ranged attack, and can gain more skills through upgrading, it's fun but it never becomes involving. It's nice to see a game take story so seriously, but when it comes to videogames game play can not be forgotten or treated separately, it needs to work with its story to create a deeper experience. Enslaved is a unique game that achieves at telling a compelling story, but could have been a lot more if Ninja Theory put as much time into game play as they did into its story.

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