“Monkey! You’ve gotta be careful. I could’ve blown your brains out!…. By accident.” – Pigsy
Enslaved was one of the games in my collection that I have wanted to play for quite some time. When I finally got around to it, I was excited to get things going. After a few hours into it, my excitement turned into, meh.
You play as Monkey (no not the animal but he does act like one while platforming) a brawny, strong, easy to get annoyed character. Along the way you meet another character that is introduced to us by the name of Trip. She is a tech savy girl who will help hack into consoles, turn off alarms and open up electronically locked doors. About three quarters into the game you come across your final partner, Pigsy. After a the first few minutes he gets really annoying and jealous between your “relationship” between Monkey and Trip.
The game starts off in a post-apocalyptic New York. Your goal is to find a place called The Pyramid. Along your way, you will run into different puzzles, platforming areas, and small towns all being guarded my Mechs. Monkey’s main weapons will consist of a staff that you melee with, shoot electric energy to stun the Mechs and Plasma to damage/destroy the Mechs. It is fairly simple but is effective at the same time. You can control Trip a small amount. There is an action wheel in which you can tell her to do different things, depending on the scenario you are in. Her Decoy ability was the one I used most often in the game. This allowed the Mechs to divert their attention to the image she places out and allows Monkey to move around without being seen.
The character models in the game were excellent. Movement was fluid and the amount of details on each one was amazing. From the freckles on Trip’s face, to the skin burned in designs on Monkey’s body, was all very well done. Even the facial expressions were very believable. You could tell what type of mood the characters where in just by looking at their face. The environments were just as equally done. There are a few scenes where you will be crossing a bride and the camera would pan out to show a wide angle view of everything around you. I would stop and just look at everything. It really was done very well.
While everything sounds great, there are problems. Some of those made the game very frustrating, especially during combat.
During combat with Monkey, you will come across groups of Mechs that are attacking you. There are Mechs that you want to take out first, especially the ones that have a clock counting down above their heads. If that timer reaches zero it calls for back up. There will be times when you will have up to five Mechs to deal with. Trying to stay just on a single one of those can be very annoying. The camera will spin around on you at times and Monkey will lunge at one Mech and then lunge to another, even though you are looking right at the one you are want to attack. There are even times when you will lunge at nothing what so ever. Once you are hit, you can’t move at all. Monkey will just take the punishment and stand still for a second before you gain control of him again. The Mechs don’t just hit you once and then take a couple of steps back, they will hit you around four to six times before they stop. Monkey does have a shield you can use, but it is hard to pull up when you are getting attacked. While the Mechs you attack can throw up their shields at any given point. There is also an ability that Monkey can use to stun a Mech. He holds his staff until it charges up and then smashes it with them. This doesn’t always work. Once he performs the move, he will stand there for a split second once again. During this time, you have no control of him and he is very vulnerable to getting attacked. It may not seem like much but it does take away from the overall flow of combat.
There are some issues with the platforming aspect of the game as well. For example, while swinging from pole to pole, Monkey will stop his momentum and squat on the pole. When you try to get him to advance to the next pole he will eventually jump over but it might take a few tries. You will also run into problems trying to jump off of platforms. There are certain trigger points that will allow you to do this. If you are not in one of these points, Monkey will just do a barrel roll. If you climb up a series of ledges and try to get back down you have to follow the way you went up. You can’t just jump of another side and get down quicker.
There are some hiccups with the graphics as well. During one part of the game I could physically see the screen split right down the middle horizontally, there was a very visible black bar dividing the two sections. Now this didn’t last long but it was visible. At some points in the game the graphics would get fuzzy looking. If there was a lot of movement on the screen or the camera panned two quick it was very noticeable. This didn’t happen just once or twice in the game, it happened quite a few times. It would stay that way until you stopped moving and the graphics would catch back up.
There were also issues with the sound. At one point in the game during a fight all you could hear was the background music. The fighting and surrounding noises would be silent. There was even a few instances where I died, I had to sit through a cut scene (luckily you can skip those by pressing SELECT) and no sound would play. It wasn’t until after the cut scene that the sound returned. There was also one incident when it was like watching an import movie with English voice overs. The characters mouth would move and a second later you could hear what they were saying. That was pretty comical.
Enslaved even has one DLC pack, Pigsy’s Perfect 10. This is very different from the actual game. You get to control Pigsy on his search to build a friend for himself. While the core game is action oriented, this DLC is more stealth based. It gives you a more in-depth look at Pigsy and the way he is. It actually gets a little boring after a while as all you’re doing is running from place to place and using his grappling hand to move up and slide down. The combat in the game does make you think about how you want to get pass everything. Since you can’t melee fight with Pigsy, you have to think of other ways to get around enemies. You can try and sneak around them, or you can take them out with your gun. Since Pigsy dies in two hits, there is no melee portion of the game.
Even with all of its faults, Enslaved is a fun little romp. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but still fun never less. It was entertaining watching the chemistry between Monkey and Trip develop. Add in the jealousy of Pigsy later on and we had an interesting combination. With the game being three years old now, you can find it pretty cheap. If you can find the game I suggest you pick it up. It won’t blow you away, but it will leave you feeling accomplished.