Monday, November 8, 2010

Xbox 360 - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West by Namco

Type: Platform, Fighting, Climbing, Third Person

This is a pretty limited functionality third person shooter/platformer. Three basic modes are platforming, climbing and fighting. The story is weak and the gameplay is even weaker made problematic by the unresponsive controls and unpredictable camera tracking. On top of that, the game is exceedingly short. On the plus side, the characters look great, not so great for the environments, though. Cinematics are way too long.


You're a nameless guy who's been nicknamed 'Monkey' (most likely because you kind of look and act like one while climbing). While escaping from a prison ship, you cling to the last remaining escape pod containing a girl you were chasing through the prison ship as it disintegrates. When you wake up, you're 'Enslaved' to the girl, 'Trip', because she has put a slave headband on you.

From here you platform and fight your way through the rest of the game with Trip as your companion.


With the aid of Trip, the headband and your climbing skills (ahem), you work your way through each level avoiding such things as mines, 'Mechs' and turrets. The game works reasonably well, but each level is near identical to the last. With the exception of 'The Cloud' levels (surfing on a disc), everything is near identical level to level. Once you understand the types of mechs that attack you, you can devise a strategy that works.


You have a staff that you can melee your enemy. The staff doubles as a gun and can shoot explosive or stunning rounds. You have automatic shields that protect you for a limited time. The shields also automatically recharge after no fire. You also have a blocking mode that can take limited amounts of hits before it is ineffective.

Leveling Up

To level up in this game, you have to collect orbs scattered around the levels and also that pop out of downed enemies. As you collect more and more orbs, you get 'money' to spend to buy upgrades. Upgrades include health extension, health regeneration, weapons enhancements, shield enhancements, etc. So, save the orbs and buy stuff that keeps you alive longer.


The controls on this game work in 80-90% of the game. There are times where the gun is not accurate at all even when aiming perfectly. There are also times where you can't tell where the game wants you to go (like the cloud levels that require you to chase something).

Other issues include jumping. You try to get him to jump and he'll do everything but jump. This includes rolling, jumping in the wrong direction, or nothing. The controls on this game just really don't work properly in many cases.


This is the absolute weakest part of this game. There are so many hypocritical elements in this game, much of it is completely absurd. For example, when you enter Pig's area, you go through a door that's supposed to scan for mechs. Trip says that this detector prevents mechs from getting through. Alright then, I naturally assumed (incorrectly, of course) that there should be no mechs in this area. Yet, the place was swarming with them. So, if the mechs couldn't get through that doorway without being detected, how did they get in there? This is just some of the silliness in this game.

Game designers need to think through these elements to make sure their games at least follow through with rules they themselves have established. Also, at the end, and I don't want to give too much away here, Monkey doesn't remove his headband after it's all over. This is what I was waiting to see the whole game through and it doesn't happen. Note, this doesn't give away the ending at all, but it does give away this one visual that doesn't happen.


The game is exceedingly short. You can play through the level on 'Normal' hardness in probably 4-6 hours of straight play. Perhaps less if you don't focus on collecting the orbs. The story is weak and convoluted. The only constant are the mechs that use the same strategy to attack you each time. So you can easily devise a counter that works each time. The only difficulty is that instead of throwing three mechs at you, they might throw 6 or 8 or more. The dog mech boss and the bull mech boss are the only two mechs that really require a different thought strategy. I don't really consider the scorpion at the end a 'boss', mostly because you don't really fight it. You just damage it. This one is worth a day's rent, but definitely not worth paying $60.

  • Sound: 6/10 (average)
  • Graphics: 7.5/10 (characters look good, environments look bad)
  • Gameplay: 6/10 (bad controller handling, bad camera handling)
  • Story: 4/10 (weak story, no resolution, more questions than answers)
  • Bugginess: N/A (no bugs, yay!)
  • Controls: 5/10 (needs work)
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10 (definitely a rent)
  • Play Value: $4 (What I paid Redbox to rent it)
  • Overall: 4/10 (overly short, bad story, bad controls, bad environments).

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