The free-flowing platforming is a sharp contrast to the brutal combat sequences. You can easily jump from treacherous platforms to precarious handholds, and it's liberating to move through the environment so effortlessly. Each platforming sequence is set up like a puzzle. There's only one way through each area, and you have to figure out which path to take to reach the other side unscathed. Crumbling walls force you to move quickly, and there are other dangers, such as spinning blades and dancing flames, that threaten to injure the slow moving. However, even though these levels are well designed, there is rigidity to your movements that can be frustrating. You can only jump when you have another platform waiting for you, which removes much of the puzzle-solving appeal. This restriction continues even when you're on the ground, and squirrelly controls make it difficult to move with precision. Optional orbs compound this problem. You need to collect these to upgrade your abilities, but inconsistent movement makes it a chore to go out of your way to nab them all. The platforming is still fun because of the smooth rhythm of leaping through this world, but limitations strip away much of the simple joy.
6280311Driving is even more dangerous in the future. None
Neither the combat nor the platforming are great on their own, but smart pacing ensures that you're always experiencing something new. Thrilling set-piece sequences are injected between the standard action fare, which create rousing moments of unbridled excitement. There are times where you can ride a nifty hoverboard around, and it's a blast to breeze along rocky corridors and propel yourself off ramps in exhilarating chases. Boss fights force you to make smart use of all of your abilities in order to come out on top. When you square off against a giant mechanical dog, you need to use your staff for both close-up and long-range attacks, and you even make use of your hoverboard to finish it off. The boss fights aren't very difficult, focusing more on spectacle than in-depth combat, but they provide satisfying interludes between the main action. Clever puzzles break up the fast-moving pace for more thoughtful fare. These make you work in tandem with Trip, and they require just enough careful deliberation to make it empowering to solve them, without being so challenging as to halt your progress. Enslaved is consistently fun and exciting because of the diverse gameplay situations that are all done well.
The eye-catching visuals do a fantastic job of providing an artistic backdrop for each section you visit. Enslaved is a gorgeous-looking game that provides a much more colorful take on a postapocalyptic world than what is typical. The opening levels place you in a ruined city that is overrun by plants, trees, and other foliage, which is encroaching on the man-made structures that used to dominate these areas. But Enslaved offers locations that are far different from the green-covered city in which you begin. Another area takes place in an underground cavern that offers a dark, foreboding mood and contrasts wonderfully with the colorful beginning. There are levels that take place in a well-guarded village at twilight, as well as atop a towering scrap heap; you even catch a glimpse at an underwater world. The variety and artistic splendor of each place in Enslaved is striking, continually impressing with everything from its beautiful vistas to to confining interiors. The subtle background music does a great job of complementing the visual wonders. Ambient melodies pull you through these well-crafted locales, and the punctuated bursts during battles heighten the already-tense duels.
Finishing moves are brutally satisfying.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a great example of how a gripping story and strong artistic design can overcome slight gameplay problems. Your movement is rough around the edges and you have to get through half of the game before the combat really shows off its true potential, but those are minor blemishes on this fine package. The well-realized characters are incredibly lifelike, using subtle animations and believable voice acting to make these digital beings feel almost real at times. Watching Monkey and Trip grow during their journey is eminently satisfying, and the link you create with them makes all of your actions carry that much more weight. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a great adventure that has just enough excitement and diversity in the gameplay to keep you engaged, while the striking visuals and memorable story push you through to the ultimate conclusion.