Home > Gaming, Opinions (Gaming) > Gaming: Enslaved – Uncontrollable

Gaming: Enslaved – Uncontrollable

Click here for the previous Enslaved: Odyssey to the West post.

 

Okay, today I felt like making a new image. I can't help wondering what kind of mindset would lead to people mass producing mechs that look like the one pictured.

I’m liking Enslaved but I have to admit that the sheer amount of times Ninja Theory take control away from the player is starting to get to me. It’s incessant and unnecessary, with plenty of points where it would work better with the player still involved or simply skipping them altogether. I’m going to include a few examples below, without spoilers:

  • As you’re walking along a damaged bridge you near a car and it falls off the edge. As it falls the game takes control away from you and the camera moves all the way down below while you watch it descend. There was no need for it to do that, they could have just had the car fall, followed by a long wait before hearing the splash. Monkey or Trip could say something like, ‘It’s a long way down’ and that would be it.
  • Not long after that you approach an obstacle you need to interact with (itself a mini cutscene you have to watch each time) and a cutscene triggers. Trip and Monkey hear a noise, spin around and see a car being thrown with some force off in the distance, indicating something is coming. All it needed was for the player to hear the noise and have one of the characters say their line. Everything significant is conveyed but the player stays in control the whole time.
  • Very soon after that (these things really are that common) you’re climbing around the bridge to reunite with Trip – who is much, much smaller than Monkey and can slip through much small gaps – and after climbing on something it zooms over to Trip, where she tells you she’s… on the other side of the bridge and you’ll need to reunite. There was no real need for that at all but there was particularly no need to take control away from the player. Trip just had to say her line, and as Monkey you could choose to watch her or not.

That’s in addition to the recurring area scanning, which at least has a gameplay function even if it could also be done in-game as you approach the area, as all you need is Trip’s commentary about key objectives (which also get markers) and to be able to see the proximity triggers on enemies and mines. I’m guessing Ninja Theory are fond of their facial animations and the effort they put into animating the characters (and they should be) but it just happens too often. They were still making a game and any moment of non-interactivity should be a last resort, not the default.

 

I really do like the design of the environments. It's so nice to have a post-apocalyptic setting that isn't just a dull collection of browns and greys. It makes sense too that nature would steadily return. As Ian Malcolm once said: "Life will find a way."

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that at one point you have to flee from an unstoppable enemy. That becomes a major element for quite some time as you try to stay ahead of it, clambering quickly around the environment while trying to find a way to stop it. Later on you have to fight one and it’s incredibly underwhelming, little more than a regular fight against something with a lot of health. It’s justified in the game by being because you had an opportunity to scan one earlier (exposing you to its weaknesses), but it means all the tension in those levels is retroactively daft. I could have beaten it at any time if the game had let me (I’m guessing you can’t just fight it earlier but I didn’t try, though in the chase sequence getting too close is instant death. In a cutscene, naturally).

Also (and again without spoiling anything), the story reached a point where I lost a lot of sympathy for Trip at a point where I think you were supposed to do the opposite. I won’t go into details for fear of spoilers, but I feel maybe Ninja Theory didn’t intend for me to react the way I did. I do like that the story is able to provoke that kind of disconnect though rather than just being another macho slog against bad guys, and it’s not killed my enthusiasm for the story or my interest in continuing, but I no longer like Trip as much as I used to.

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