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Monkey’s tired, worn out body is jolted awake by an emotionless woman’s voice over an echoing broadcast from within a massive airship’s hull. He has been captured by a cruel alien force that hovers above the planet and abducts the last few survivors on earth to do their bidding. As he struggles to figure out where exactly he is, a scared, red-haired girl somehow escapes from her confines and overloads the ship’s containment controls. Monkey’s enclosure is violently blown off its hinges and slams to the ground. He emerges bewildered and angry wanting only to be free again. This is when the player finally gets a glimpse of what Monkey can really do.
The demo shows off the intuitive jumping and climbing Monkey can pull off fluidly. From the outset, Monkey’s movement is incredibly articulate and seamlessly rendered. His body contracts and twists as he jumps over rickety platforms and athletically hoists himself up exposed pipes and scaffolding. You can tell which objects Monkey can cling to because they will continually shine and grab your attention immediately. Eventually he gets a hold of his gear, a pair of metal gauntlets and a futuristic pole that conveniently scales down to travel size.
A few moments later, the game’s fighting mechanics make an appearance with a battle against a prickly robot that has machine gun hands. Combat consists of a light attack button that opens into a short combo and a heavy attack button that is slower but does more damage. Press both buttons and you can pull off a wide attack that hits more than one enemy at a time. You also have a charge attack that is capable of stunning the rambunctious robots, which buys you more time to deal with whatever else might leap out at you from the shadows. So far, the game seems like a tightly woven hybrid of Uncharted and God of War—both from a gameplay and presentation standpoint. These examples become more apparent during a scene in which Monkey has to scale the outside of the airship before its wing collides with a moss covered skyscraper.
The remarkable in-game details translate into a refined spectacle of cinematic cutscenes. The mysterious red-head is a gorgeous woman with expressive eyes and subtle body language while Monkey is constantly reverberating with tension. It’s hard to look away when these two characters are having a conversation or interacting with one another. This is all orchestrated by Andy Serkis, the man responsible for bringing Lord of the Rings’ Gollum to life on the silver screen. He has assisted developer Ninja Theory before with the motion capturing for Heavenly Sword in 2007 and now acts as a dramatic director on the Enslaved project perfecting storytelling elements and even motion capturing for Monkey. It’s obvious that publisher Namco Bandai Games is implementing a ton of production value and polish to make Enslaved a flagship title that will stand apart from other action games that will crowd the market this Fall season. Begin your own journey when Enslaved: Odyssey to the West drops October 5th.