Special editions and re-releases have become very commonplace over the past couple of years, developers and producers ransacking their back catalogue or combining all of the downloadable content of the more popular titles at a more affordable price, but for a game that is now only three years old and already at decent price seems to be a strange business move. Irrespective of the reasons, here we have Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition, with Ninja Theory giving PlayStation 3 owners another chance to play this often overlooked game and for the first time, allowing PC owners via Steam the chance as well.
Based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West, or for my generation the Monkey TV show, Alex Garland has taken the original plot and pushes it forward 150 years, setting it in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is sparse and huge mechanical monstrosities guard the lands. You play as Monkey, a gruff sounding (thanks to the vocal talents of Andy Serkis) arse kicking chap who has somehow found himself imprisoned on a huge flying slave ship. This predicament soon changes, albeit for the worse, with the slave ship starting to fall out of the sky, leaving you to guide Monkey to safety in what is still a thrilling introduction level. Monkey manages to escape alongside Trip, another captured human, who rather than just asking for help goes about installing a slave headband on our hero, granting her the power to enslave Monkey to assist her in reaching her village, leaving Monkey with very little choice but to help her on her request, traveling across the dangerous and desolate landscape whilst trying to keep Trip safe at the same time.
The main action in Enslaved is presented as an adventure game, you control Monkey with relative ease, with him jumping and climbing all manner of obstacles, all the while keeping an eye on Trip and making sure she does not come to any harm, as due to the slave band she installed on Monkey, if she dies, so will he. Though the humans have deserted the city, the ruined lands are now left for just the mechs, some requiring a little melee action, others need a little more skill, skulking through the shadows or attracting their attention whilst Trip can get to safety, whatever way you need to do this, the game will always offer helpful hints and tips on what is required.
The platform elements are what we have come to expect from games of this nature with little areas flashing to highlight just where you can jump to, never really giving you any options to wander around other than looking for hidden orbs that you can use to upgrade certain aspects of Monkey’s offensive moves and equipment. With both Trip and Monkey on the run, you will often have to take into consideration both characters, as whilst Monkey is very agile, Trip is not, with the game adding some puzzle elements to the platform areas. When Monkey needs to, he is able to bring the pain with his fighting staff, with the game offering a workable free flow attack system, linking together a variety of hits, stuns and even fire shots from the ends.
With the game being relatively unchanged in relation to the gameplay and story, just what do you get in this special edition and is it worth another purchase? Depending if you have owned the original or not may well sway you with the DLC Pigsys Perfect 10 included plus the inclusion of three new character skins to try out once completed, there is not really much new on offer. The review copy received was for the PC via Steam and whilst this is the first time you are able to play on the PC, players are likely to feel a little let down by this port and though it comes with controller options and Big Screen mode I found it hard to find a decent resolution to fit my monitor. I will be the first to admit I am relatively new to high end PC gaming but this is the first to offer such a struggle, with most resolutions not fitting my screen correctly. Most importantly though is the total lack of options when it comes to the graphics with you being given just a gamma correction option, this is something that PC gamers are not used to.
As said earlier, this is a strange title to rerelease after so many years, especially since it is a steal at most shops but if anything it was yet another chance to enjoy a wonderful tale. For those that are still wanting to play this game and own a PS3 then it is still definitely worth picking up, however for PC owners there will be a lot of tinkering behind the games scenes to get the most of it, plus make sure you have a decent enough PC to run it with any chance of looking better than the PS3 version.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ The chance to partake in a great storyline yet again
+ Finally released on the PC
+ Finally released on the PC
- PC aficionados will be very disappointed with the lack of visual options