If you've been following Enslaved, then you know this next game from the makers of Heavenly Sword is loosely based on the Chinese story Journey to the West. It's a common source of inspiration -- anybody who follows Dragonball Z knows the basics of it. For the first time at this E3 showcase, I got to play Enslaved and learn that the main character isn't just named Monkey to stick with the source material. He handles quite like a monkey, too.
You play as Monkey throughout Enslaved, with a girl named Trip in tow. The world has gone through an apocalyptic war, nearly destroying all of humanity. It's now recovering without society, leaving cities covered in new vegetation offering a beautiful yet eerie backdrop.
Trip has managed to get piece of head gear attached to Monkey's head that allows her to order him around and forces him to protect her under pain of death. If she dies, Monkey goes with her so there isn't much for you to do aside from keeping her safe.
I found that's not such a difficult thing to do while. Trip follows along closely and automatically runs for cover when danger arrives. For the most part, you can ignore her and go about your business, though that business very often involves working cooperatively with her to get through assorted traps and combat situations.
Trip can offer recon, giving Monkey a look at mines that would otherwise be hidden from view. She can use an EMP blast to temporarily disable the assorted kill-bots that roam the world. She can hack through locked doors and give you access to new areas. In return, you'll have to clear paths for her, occasionally carry her on your back, and do all of the fighting. It's almost a fair trade.
The combat in Enslaved is fairly straight forward with simple combos, light and heavy strikes, and a few special moves and ranged attacks. What made Enslaved interesting for me was the platforming interspersed throughout the game. Monkey acts quite like a monkey, rapidly climbing walls and leaping across chasms that no normal human should be capable of. In one later section of the game, I got to see the future-techno version of his Cloud. This allows him to skate just above the ground or water, which introduced a whole different style of platforming to the game.
Ninja Theory, the makers of Enslaved, are putting a heavy emphasis on emotion and storytelling. Those efforts were easy to see in my time with the game, though I didn't get a sense of how well the overarching story and character development will play out. At the moment, it's promising. Lots of action games wind up feeling repetitive as they tend to rely on the combat too heavily as a crutch for the fact that they don't have a fully developed story. Enslaved looks like it might be able to avoid that trap.