In a future
Where man lives in constant fear of slavers and mechs
An unlikely duo can make a difference
Trip is a young woman, her skills include: hacking, giving orders, and causing distractions.
Monkey is a bit of an enigma, and thanks to a headband, is under Trip's control. He's the character you play as, and you'll spend much of the game climbing around, keeping an eye out for Trip, and crushing mechs with your staff. There are even rare moments where he can use a hoverboard (which he refers to as a "cloud") to cross over lakes and such.
The parellels to the classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West" are pretty obvious.
As an action-adventure game, Enslaved leads towards the simplistic side of things. Well, perhaps simplistic isn't the word I'm looking for. Overly approachable, casual, automated, ehhh I'm better off just explaining it. Enslaved is one of those games that would have been very difficult a generation or three ago. Let's use Tomb Raider for comparison. The original game featured some difficult platforming segments. You had to account for several different possibilities. Is Lara moving fast enough? Did she jump at the right moment? Are there obstacles nearby? Fast-forward through numerous sequels and now you don't have to worry about where and when to jump. If you're facing the right direction, Lara will always make the jump. Enslaved pushes this game-design even further. You can't die from falling even if you wanted to, Monkey won't allow it. I think I managed a falling death once, and that was by getting zapped out of the air by a Mech. It was more of a fluke than anything.
There is a lot of fighting to be done in this game, but it's typically very trivial. I have to wonder how Capcom decided Ninja Theory was a good fit for Devil May Cry after playing through this game. While not quite a button-masher, Enslaved's combat doesn't require much effort. Enemies fall into certain camps. There are the close-range slashers, the long-range shooters, shockers have some mid-range ability, sometimes they have shields. The strategy rarely deviates from "hit them really hard" or "blast them with plasma and/or stun shots". Also, there's not much in the way of stylish maneuvers. Monkey does some flipping and spinning around, but he's not pulling off any Dante-esque combos. None of the mechs survive long enough anyway. I made the mistake of playing this game on the easy difficulty. Not only did Monkey never die (in combat), he never lost more than 1/5th of his health. It's best to jump straight to the hard difficulty, which doesn't make much of a difference aside from everyone doing a bit more damage. Most of my deaths came from mines.
With easy combat and platforming, Enslaved thrives almost entirely on its other aspects. The locales in this game are pretty neat to visit, and there's some nice attention to detail in this post-apocalyptic land. The pacing is also effectively done, with a nice balance between combat, puzzle-solving, and a hint of exploration. Some credit should also be given to the chapter setup. This game is broken up into 14 chapters, and most of them can be completed in 15-20 minutes. You can play for a fairly short amount of time, and still make quite a bit of progress. I prefer this over having something like 5 chapters that take an hour or more to get through.
As an action game, Enslaved is bound to disappoint. It does work as more of an adventure game though. The world is impressively-realized, the characters (all three of them) are well-done, and for the most part it's a breezy experience that you just take in.
Three characters? Oh right...can't forget about Pigsy.
This dude is another reference to Journey to the West. While human, Pigsy is also part...mecha pig. He's a fat slob with an eye for Trip, and he wears socks with his sandals. Unlike his inspiration, this little piggy prefers a sniper rifle over an 11,000 pound rake. In the latter half of the game he's the comic relief, and he ain't too bad at it. He also has his own quest. This was originally DLC in the console version of Enslaved. Pigsy's Perfect 10 follows his misadventures in building a new friend. As I said, Enslaved has three characters, it's a pretty lonely world.
Unlike Monkey, Pigsy isn't very tough, punch or stab him a couple times and he's a goner. In order to survive, you have to sneak around, make your shots count, and take advantage of various gadgets. Unlike the main game, there's actually a bit of creativity and depth that goes into each encounter. Simply blasting everyone is never the answer, but you can distract them, stun them, seduce them(?!) to fight your enemies, or simply destroy them with a bomb. While this quest does run a bit long, I think it does a good job at providing something different from the rest of Enslaved. The similarities to cover-based shooters are apparent, but PP10 does enough to stand out. This is pretty impressive for a DLC adventure.