Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Tagged: Game

Videogame (2010). Ninja Theory (NT). Designed by Tameem Antoniades. Platforms: PS3, XB360.

Enslaved is an action Adventure set in a lush, verdant Post-Holocaust America, where most of mankind has been wiped out in a devastating war and the few surviving humans are hunted by killer Robots, still fulfilling their ancient objectives. The gameplay combines combat and occasional puzzles with jumping and leaping in the manner of a platform game (see Videogames) in an uncomplicated package that may have been intended to appeal to novice players. The script, by Alex Garland (see 28 Days Later; Sunshine), is very loosely based on the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, probably written by Wu Cheng'en sometime in the late 16th century. Shortly after the beginning of the game, the heroically muscled (and highly acrobatic) Monkey, clearly a lifelong sufferer from impulse control disorder, and the smart, technologically sophisticated Trip (or Tripitaka) escape from a crashed aircraft which was transporting the captives of a crazed survivor of the pre-holocaust world. Trip then fits Monkey with a controlling headband while he is unconscious, so that she can force him to protect her on the dangerous journey back to her village. In the role of Monkey, the player becomes both Trip's slave and her guardian, the muscle to her mind. The game is notable for its appealing characters and for the moments of genuine emotion which enliven its strictly linear plot (see Interactive Narrative). Ultimately, it succeeds because it forces the player to participate in the relationship between Monkey and Trip – a curious fusion of romance narrative and buddy movie – acting out Monkey's role until the mask becomes the face, and the player shares what their character feels.

Related works: Pigsy's Perfect 10 (2010 NT, PS3, XB360) is an expansion pack and prequel for Enslaved in which the eponymous character tries to build his ideal friend from spare parts found in a junkyard. Enslaved: Origins (2010) is a single-issue Comic which provides additional backstory for the original game. [NT]

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