First Impressions - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

During this year's Steam Summer Sale, I managed to grab quite a few games and one of those games was Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for a neat $5 USD. The game is set in post-apocalyptic America but the story is apparently based off one of the great classical novels of Chinese literature known as Journey to the West. I'm fascinated by Chinese culture, history and literature so while this is probably a very liberal take on the story, I was nevertheless intrigued to see how Ninja Theory adapted it.

What I like

  • Tie-in with Journey to the West: As I've already mentioned, this game is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adaptation of Journey to the West. So you've obviously got characters like Monkey and Tripitaka but it's interesting how the developers represent them in this world (and how they came about with those names). I also found some amusement in how they adapted magical items in the original story into pieces of technology for the sci-fi game version
  • Top notch voice acting: Monkey is voice acted by noneother than Captain Gollum Haddock himself: Andy Serkis and he does a splendid job of it. Lindsey Shaw as Tripitaka is no slouch either.
  • Breathtaking combat: While other aspects of gameplay might not be so good the combat is really quite exciting. Monkey is actually pretty vulnerable if you don't time your blocks well enough and the slo-mo finishing moves makes the game look like a John Woo film. All we need now are the doves.
  • Great character detail: Despite the rest of the game's graphics having quite a few low-res textures (apparently this game was originally a 2010 game for consoles) the painstaking detail that must've gone into the character models and animations is obvious.

What I don't like

  • Annoying camera angles: Unfortunately Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is one of those games with an automated camera angle. Consequently there will be many times where during combat the camera will be flying all over the place and it'll be difficult to focus on the action or realise which way you're really facing now.
  • Hard-coded keybinds: A minor pet peeve of mine but I don't like games that force you to use certain key bindings (and I suspect a lot of PC gamers would agree). One of the worst offenders is middle mouse button being hard-coded since that also happens to be my Push-to-Talk key for TeamSpeak.
  • No long-term appeal: While the levels I've played so far require a minimal amount of puzzle solving, overall there doesn't seem to be too much variation in the type of enemies you fight (robots) or how to approach the level. Ultimately, everything comes back to how good you're in combat anyway since even if you're able to be stealthy and avoid some combat there will always be some mechs you'll have no option but to fight with, especially during boss fights. The game is also quite linear too which makes the gameplay seem dated when compared to other games from 2013 such as Tomb Raider


I'll never be able to get over the annoying camera angles and I'm starting to doubt the game's ability in drawing me back due to monotonous gameplay. However, the game is a sci-fi adaptation of a classic work of Chinese literature and this, along with the sublime voice acting and character animations, have kept my attention.

[ LINK: Official Enslaved: Odyssey to the West website ]