A few years after the release of the Playstation 3 exclusive Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory return with a brand new multi-platform adventure title based in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Enslaved is an adventure based loosely on the famous Chinese legend Journey to the West and follows a story co-written by English novelist and screenplay writer, Alex Garland (The Beach novel, 28 days later).

Have Ninja Theory delivered with an epic adventure or should they go back to making games about hot ladies with dangerous weapons? Read our full review after the jump.

The story of Enslaved begins when a slaver airship comes crashing down to a now-overgrown and empty New York city in world where humanity has been all but wiped out by machines.

You play the role of Monkey, a nomad who wakes up from the crash only to realise that out of desperation, a teenage girl named Trip has enslaved him with a headband from the ship in order to help her make it back home alive. She promises him that once he has returned her home safely, she will remove the headband and he will be free to go. Monkey is forced to comply not only because of Trip’s control over the headband, but because it has been programmed to deliver a lethal dose to him if her heart stops beating for any reason.

So begins a partnership where both characters rely on each other for survival as they make their way out of New York City and find themselves in situations that range from intense and stressful, to downright humorous and light-hearted.

Enslaved is a third person adventure title that focuses on platforming and combat for the most part. As Monkey, you will spend a good majority of the game making use of his athletic agility to make your way around the landscape. The style of gameplay will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played games like Prince of Persia or Uncharted and will have you leaping, climbing and swinging all over the place.


Monkey and Trip work together to make progress in various ways and benefit from each others’ abilities. Trip can be issued basic orders to perform task such as moving forwards while you distract enemies by shouting, or even by creating a visual distraction herself while you sneak off to flank enemy mechs. Other situations will require Monkey to throw Trip across big gaps or carry her through mine fields, while she brings technical wizardry to hack security doors, or scan areas for enemies. The duo also need to work together to solve certain puzzles throughout the game, and while some can be fun, they are usually fairly simple and without any major challenge.

While I am not usually a fan of dependent A.I characters, the system and structure of the game allows the player to feel like they are working together with other characters, rather than just dragging their butts through the whole game like some sort of extended escort mission. Rather than feeling like you are carrying the weight of the game on your own shoulders, you really do feel like you are apart of a story where all of the characters have their place, and you are merely one of them.

From a difficulty perspective, the platforming is by no means any major challenge as Monkey is incapable of walking off of ledges or leaping for a handhold that isn’t actually there. This more casual approach easily breaks a lot of the challenge and fun that should come with platforming, but is saved to a certain degree by the co-operative effort with Trip.


With regards to the combat, Enslaved incorporates both melee and ranged combat, although the focus is more of the hand-to-hand sort, with the ranged combat only really implemented as an additional way to assist Monkey, or work on enemies weak points.

In the long run, the combat suffers from a lack of variety, which means that from the beginning of the game right through to the end, you will pretty much be looking at the same handful of attack combos over and over again. Even with the ability to upgrade your skills (by collecting orbs that act as currency), there is no real sense of skills progression but rather only enhancements of existing abilities, with a few exceptions.

You will encounter a few boss fights over the course of the game, with most of them relying on the age old technique of discovering a weakness and then exploiting it, with some of them feeling like they are dragging on a little longer than necessary.

The adventure itself spans over many varied locations ranging from city buildings, bridges, scrap yards, villages and more, each with their own visual style and atmosphere. In some cases the levels will come with an extra gameplay element that will have you using mounted guns, riding vehicles or playing around with one of Monkey or Trips cooler toys.

Enslaved is absolutely breathtaking to look at and utilizes the Unreal Engine 3 to deliver a bright and color saturated world where nature is entwined with derelict structures that have long since been populated. You will often be presented with large open areas and detailed structures that feel like they have fallen straight out of a concept art book and landed on your television screen. Be sure to expect a few cases of frames dropping here and there, but the game will move along at a relatively stable 30 frames per second most of the time.

Last Updated: October 11, 2010

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Enslaved: Odyssey To The West


  1. Really enjoying it at the moment, and a very pretty game indeed.


  2. AC!D

    October 11, 2010 at 13:31

    Two things i really hated in this game:

    – The hand holding for platforming which made the game less fun and challenging.

    – The graphics. I thought they were a mixed bad. The up close detail was brilliant but ruined by some very slow texture loading in the background in cutscenes and when you moved the camera around during gameplay. It really does take you out of this beautiful world when you have to sit and watch textures and details load in the background everywhere you turn to face your camera and especially in the cut scenes. I really hate this in most Unreal engine games. I dont want them to use this engine for DMC5. I wish they would use the Heavenly sword engine. The second thing was the draw distances which just looked ugly compared to the up close detail. Also the later levels werent as impressive as the first couple in the jungle.

    Its basically the same story as Heavenly Sword. The story, animation and voice acting are fantastic but Ninja Theory really need to work on their gameplay and a lot of bugs in their games we could do without to be considered a AAA developer in my book.

    Overall id give the game a 8/10 and i have to mention chapter 14 which was an amazing spectacle.


  3. Nick de Bruyne

    October 11, 2010 at 14:37

    Which console did you play it on? I played on 360 and there was some texture loading here and there but nothing too rough, which apparently barely happens at all on the PS3 version.


  4. AC!D

    October 11, 2010 at 15:12

    I played the PS3 version. Its not game breaking but its still irritating and only seems to happen on Unreal engine games.


  5. AC!D

    October 11, 2010 at 15:16

    Not to mention the freaking bloom. Does every Unreal game have to have so much bloom. Man i wish we could get some new middleware. Its a pity ID Tech 5 is eclusive to Zenimax now.


  6. Nick de Bruyne

    October 12, 2010 at 00:38

    Not every Unreal Engine game uses bloom, although I will admit that a lot UE3 games tend to have similar looks to them, especially in terms of high contrast lighting effects.

    I enjoyed the bright colourful graphics for a change though


  7. Cleric

    October 12, 2010 at 10:16

    Thanks for the good review.

    So, voice acting better than Uncharted 2’s?


  8. AC!D

    October 12, 2010 at 10:20

    I also enjoy games with colour. I just personally dont like this engine. I hope ppl start licensing the Crysis engine so we can see what thats made of.

    I mean seriously can you honestly say you would rather see DMC5 on Unreal Engine? I cant imagine we are going to get even close to 60FPS second and the tearing and backrground texture loading? Comon Ninja Theory should have used the Capcom framework engine or the Heavenly sword engine if it isnt Sony owned. Both are miles better.


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