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    jp's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3)

    [January 2, 2013 05:08:44 PM]
    Whew, finished!

    I've really enjoyed it (despite all the warts and minor problems the game has). And yes, all those flashbacks are explained at the end. The ending is actually quite sad, I was surprised by this. Yes, you rescue the slaves but it's not what you thought it would be like and actually hearkens back to a moment - very early in the first chapter that I hadn't really thought about and which seemed quite odd in retrospect.

    Over the course of the entire game there are really only three human characters: Monkey, Trip, and Pigsy (who is fantastic). Other than the first and last chapters there are other human characters at all. In the first chapter, as you escape the slaver ship, you see other human characters that die except for one - slave number so and so (I didn't notice he was a slave on my first playthrough) whom Monkey intimidates into telling him where his equipment is. The slave then dies. I didn't realize (in my first playthrough) that the slave died because he told me something and that he was killed "remotely". I had assumed that Monkey had snapped his neck and that I'd missed it because it happened so fast. I hadn't realized that that would be the last human character I'd see for the entire game (well, other than photos of Andy Serkis in flashbacks).

    So, I felt the ending was somewhat sad because I was expecting to, at some point, run into other "survivors" or humans. I had assumed that the slavers were some sort of post-apocalyptic gang (ala Mad Max) rather than a shadowy organization with entirely different goals (as revealed in the end).

    It's an interesting juxtaposition - the game is colorful, lush, and beautiful but it's the sort of beauty that makes you sad because you realize that it only exists because there are no humans. It's desolate. The player is essentially an archaeologist marveling at these ruins of an ancient civilization that is his own. Other than the mechs - the game is remarkably empty of animal life as well.

    Another thing I realized, as I watched the final cut-scene, is how many different elements in the game reminded me of characters, scenes, etc. from other sources. Some may have been inspired by, or included as an homage, or may simply be the product of my own craziness... here's a brief list:

    a. Monkey - Reminded me of Vin Diesel's character in Pitch Black and sequels.

    b. Trip - Reminded me of the character from Heavenly Sword - both lithe redheads. I haven't played Heavenly Sword, but the fact that it was made by the same studio (Ninja Theory) isn't a coincidence in my opinion.

    c. Pigsy - Reminded me of Pey'j from the game Beyond Good & Evil. I think it's just the pig/boar thing since Pigsy has a crush on Trip while Pey'j's relationship with Jade was more fatherly. Maybe they both had a similar sense of humor?

    d. There's a brief moment in the game (Chapter 4?) where you see a deer that runs away when you approach it. This reminded me of some of the scenes from the movie I Am Legend where you see wild animals in a NYC that has become overcome by nature.

    e. The ending - Matrix. No, it's not all a dream or illusion, but many of the themes are there.

    I'm still unclear as to how important the Chinese tale (Journey to the West?) is. Other than Monkey (and the cloud he can ride), I have no idea. I guess I should read the original tale, no?
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    [December 27, 2012 05:17:22 PM]
    I played the first 5 chapters of the game (I think there's 15 if I recall - from the list of trophies) over the course of two evenings. I'm glad I did, and I hope to continue playing the game. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it, since there are some aspects that really bug me, but others have been quite enjoyable.

    If I had to summarize my positive feelings for this game, by reference to another game, I'd probably have to go with Uncharted 2 (I haven't played 3). Enslaved has (so far) the same wonderfully colorful and lush environments as Uncharted. Places feel lived in, or formerly lived in since it's all post-apocalyptic. I guess I'm enjoying the sense of wonder I feel when, after climbing to the top of a building, I look around and enjoy the scenery. It feels grand. I've just finished escaping from New York City, so who knows where the rest of the game takes place (I'm guessing we're heading West, due to the game's title). I'm really hoping I haven't seen the best of the game.

    I'm also enjoying the interaction between Monkey and Trip. Again, positive memories from Uncharted 2. They're completely different characters, obviously, but interesting and compelling. I'm genuinely curious to see how things play out. I'm also quite curious as to the background of Monkey. I'm guessing he's some sort of genetic experiment or something, but maybe I'm wrong (I'm not going with the deistic explanation from the inspirational source material).

    Perhaps one of the most unexpected things so far are the flashbacks. Every now and then Monkey spots a ghostly mask that floats in the air. Walking over to it triggers a flashback of sorts that shows the place you're in, but as it was in the past (pre-apocalypse). It wasn't until the 3rd flashback that I recognized a recurring character. My first thoughts were, oh cool, these are probably people from the development team (programmers, animators, etc.). Then I realized, hey... that's Andy Serkis!

    Recognizing Andy Serkis was a bit of a letdown initially. Mostly because it broke a little of the immersion I had until then. The surprise sort of shocked me out of the game. But then, being pragmatic, I realized that since he's a recurring character (in multiple flashbacks), well...these scenes must be more than simple flashbacks of the past. They must be connected somehow to the story, and perhaps as well to Monkey. I've since remembered that Monkey was "performed" by Serkis (mo-cap), but he doesn't look at all like him. If anything I'm reminded of Vin Diesel...which is weird. It must be the voice and the overall seriousness of Monkey. Anyways, I'm pretty excited to see where it all goes and I suspect that at some point I'll be trying to figure out what all the backstory is. For now, I'm trying to NOT do any online investigating...
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    jp's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 25 December, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 2 January, 2013

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Really enjoyed it.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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