Enthralling characters (pun intended, kind of) and beautiful environments are what make this game fascinating.
Let's talk about the things I enjoyed about the game before I get into the bad bits: as previously stated, I loved the characters. I feel they have plenty of depth and personality without seeming like stereotypes. Monkey isn't your basic meathead that just wants to live alone and kill mechs. Trip, the girl, isn't some weak, fleshy female that has to rely on Monkey to do EVERYTHING. She's no Yorda. And there's a third that gets introduced later in the story.
One of the major points in the game's favor in the story sense is that there's a lot of showing with the characters, instead of telling. There's quiet moments where body language speaks to the narration rather than characters announcing everything.
The overall story is okay. It's a bit stretched at times, but the characters make up for it. Have I mentioned I love the characters?
Gameplay: The combat is really button-mashy. A bit like God of War where I held my own okay with mashing Square on PS3. Triangle will yield stronger attacks but the mechs move so fast there wasn't much time for working them in. Upgraded most of my shield and health early on in the game. Combat, at that point, was more about holding up the block button and hoping I could stun before the mechs started attacking again.
The drawback was the climby bits. There are Prince of Persia: Sands of Time platformy bits where they show you the way before they have you go, which was cool. And Prince of Persia character interaction where Trip would crawl through a small space or Monkey would throw her up and then Monkey had to find a way around. And if Tommy Tallarico could give Sands of Time a 10, Enslaved can't be all bad.
Also, its a very short game. To some, this may be a blessing. To others, bittersweet. It took me about two days to beat, overall maybe a whole day with a better and more dedicated player.
With a script produced by Alex Garland (of 28 Days Later and Sunshine) and motion capture performed and directed by Andy Serkis (who played Golem in the Lord of the Rings film adaptations), it comes as little of a surprise that "Enslaved: Odyssey to the West" has cinematic ambitions. And for the most part, it succeeds in crafting an original story complimented with solid gameplay to create an unique title that stands out amongst the legions of sequels and reboots being released during this holiday season.
Thanks in large part to the exceptionally motion capture including face mapping, the characters in "Enslaved" come alive in shocking fashion. Unlike most games, the characters seemed to actually make eye contact and react appropriate (and suddenly) to the bantering of their comrades. As the narrative unfolds, I grew closer to the main protagonists. Sadly, not to spoil the story, the ending is sudden and manifests itself as a plot twist that is surprising but derivitiy of many other Sci-Fi fiction a la The Matrix
Gameplay-wise, Prince of Persia and Uncharted come to mind. Most of the title is split between parkour acrobatics and close quarter combat. Both elements work well, barring a few poor design choices in the platforming and a camera that is far too zoomed in obstructing your vision during combat.
The visuals are top rate. I'm tip-toeing around specifics since much of the beauty in the game is tied to the narrative. Regardless, as eye popping lush as the visual element is; it comes at a great cost. Performance is occasionally spotty with noticeable frame drops and near constant screen tearing. At times these frame rate slowdowns would interfere with control recognition and result in noticeable delays. With all that being mentioned, the game keeps up with the action most of the time.
I enjoyed this game very much. I would probably have rated it a 10 if it were made by a better developer, but it was still great for what it was. Here is why.
+ Very strong story. + Beautiful visual effects. + Clean upgrade/points system. + Combat is simple, but well done. + Voice acting is both comical and well performed. + Very unique style and concepts.
- Some textures are a little blurry. - Movement is a bit sloppy and unresponsive. - A few physics glitches here and there. - Some parts leave you unsure of where to go or what to do next. - Interface is quite off. Example: Character's feet would remain a few inches off the ground.