“Why I loved Enslaved” or “Here Piggy Piggy Piggy!”
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which would have been better named just “Enslaved”, is one of my favorite games of 2010. Don’t let the above-average critic reviews fool you. This action adventure game is one for the keeping. The following are some of the reasons I absolutely loved this novel, innovative game in a sea of over-hyped, over-budgeted, over-saturated AAA titles:
- The Setting: The game is set in a post-apocalyptic New York; except its been hundreds of years since the city fell, and unlike Fallout’s arid landscape or Metro 2033’s dreary tunnels, this version of New York has been overrun by nature. Vegetation is abundant and has spread itself to every crevice, corner and edge. The whole city gives the vibe of a true urban jungle, and the effect is gloriously gorgeous.
- The Story: In simplest terms, the story can be explained as “protagonist helps secondary protagonist get home”. But Enslaved story is like an onions, layers peeling away to show additional layers and complexity. The characters are real, their tragedies are heartfelt and profound, and their quest unbearably daunting and seemingly impossible. Again, in the simplest terms, it is a story about getting from point A to point B, and the two points are filled with further iterations of mini-quests requiring you to get from point A to B. But at the end of the day, as is so often the case in life, the journey becomes the legend, and the destination and purpose only serve as fringe concepts to drive the plot forward.
- The Lore: Anyone who puts themselves through the trouble of reading my blog knows that I am a huge lore buff. I live for lore. So it is a bit strange that I am in love with a game that gives you as few elements of the background story and how the current world cam to be. There are subtle hints strewn across the landscape. Missing person posters in Grand Central Station, vestiges of prominent landmarks, and the dialogue in general give you a very vague idea of what might have happened to the world as we know it in 2010, but they don’t offer much else beyond that. I normally get cranky in a lore-starved game, but in this one, the scenery itself was the lore, and the lack of in-your-face walls-of-text lore was quite alright by me.
- The Characters: The characters reveal themselves in bits and pieces, leaving much of the construction to the minds and imaginations of the players. The main characters don’t even exchange names a good hour, hour-and-a-half into the game, an homage to the slow but steady appreciation and respect they develop for each other. The voice-acting is phenomenal, the facial expressions are perfectly molded to the character’s psyche and emotional strain. Hell even the gait and mannerisms are well thought0out and character-appropriate.
I am not trying to sing unending praises for Enslaved, for it certainly has its flaws at time, such as unclear mission objectives and frustrating puzzle solving. But all in all, when considered as a whole, it is the sleeper hit of 2010 that wasn’t, and I can’t wait to get more of this bold new IP.
Speaking of which, the game has an upcoming DLC, starring the game’s playable sidekick Pigsy. You can watch a trailer, or screenshots from the upcoming DLC, Pigsy’s Perfect 10, below: