Enslaved: Journey to Mediocrity

by bhayden
6. August 2013 21:27

There is a certain amount of tragedy in games like Enslaved.  At some point there was a meeting, in that meeting someone said let’s make this game, after that some people went and made this game.  Unfortunately I don’t think anyone ever took a step back to consider if they were making this game great.

There is a tendency, I feel, for game developers to overrate their own games.  In the case of Enslaved, I could see why.  There are gorgeous levels, laid out in great detail with nooks and crannies and things to explore.  There are fights, there are puzzles, there are all the ingredients to make a great game.  To continue with the cooking metaphor, they unfortunately forgot to add butter to their cake.  In this case, it’s the story.

It’s not that Trip and Monkey and their relationship isn’t interesting.  There are touching moments in it.  Perhaps I’m being overly critical after playing The Walking Dead.  Enslaved is an older game, and so maybe, maybe I shouldn’t hold it to the same standard.  Sadly I cannot.  I cannot because there is no reason that the story had to be lacking here.

The elements are all there.  You’re thrown into a post apocalyptic world where it’s man vs. machine and the machines have clearly won.  You start out with a pretty epic sequence: you rush to get out of a crashing mech slave ship while it breaks apart around you.  The whole opening was extremely well done, and after it I was pumped.  Even as I played more, and the story began to fall apart I held out some hope.  What was Pyramid?

There is the possibility of an interesting conclusion to this game.  The writers of the game either lacked imagination or time to flesh it out.  I’m not sure, but *SPOILER ALERT* when the end sequence rolled by and Pyramid turned out to be some dude on a monitor capturing people to show them what the world used to be like I was disgusted.  Not since Star Ocean on the PS2 have I seen a story derail as badly.

It makes me feel bad for the other people that worked on the game.  The rest of this game is perfectly fine.  Perhaps some minor tweaks to the camera controls as you jump around fighting.  The duo puzzle solving mechanics with Trip and Monkey are a nice twist to the typical platformer aspects.  As I mentioned before the visuals are excellent.  The first time I dropped onto Monkey’s hover board and zipped around the collapsed ruins of one of NYC’s bridges I was impressed.

These people were let down. That so many people put work into something and it turned out to be a total disappointment in the end.  Not because of failure of mechanics, or failure of the engine but because someone couldn’t think of a more interesting story for mech slavers than some referendum about how much better life was for us now.  Maybe there’s some hidden meaning here, that we yearn for some robotic future.  That as race if we progress too far we are destined to be destroyed by whatever we make. It doesn’t matter.  Those themes are only explored as tangents. 

As the title suggests, this is a mediocre game.  It feels like it was pressed out of some soulless game generator.  That’s the tragedy here.  That a team couldn’t come together and tell their writers that their ending sucked and to create a new one that better served by their efforts.

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