If you’ve already played and loved Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, you’ll probably be hell-bent on picking up this DLC pack (which also is in 3D), but hear us out first. The DLC is good, but it’s also very different gameplay-wise, and some players will take issue with its approach. See, you may recall that Pigsy had a sniper rifle when he was unplayable AI, so this DLC sort of turns Enslaved into a shooter. We say sort of, because what it really becomes is a sniping/stealth/platforming game. If you really hate sniping and/or stealth sections in games, take note of what we’re about to explain.
The hybrid of sniping and stealth is mostly handled quite well and we enjoyed it more than we did not, but it does have some issues that can make it quite frustrating. First let’s explain how it all works. Pigsy has no melee capability whatsoever, which makes playing him almost nothing like playing Monkey. It also means that if a single mech gets close to you, it’s likely you’ll die instantly. Pigsy has one get-out-of-jail card with a cattle prod that will stun a single mech at close range, so there are chances to make up for your sloppiness, but mostly you have to be methodical and flawless in your execution.
Pigsy’s main weapon is his rifle. You can aim and fire without using the scope, and you can hold down the trigger to do a burst of shots. There is no ammo or reloading, so you can really plug away at mechs if you want, but if you want to take enemies down before sundown you’ll need to land head shots, because otherwise the mechs take tons of punishment. Most of the time we used the scope, which makes the gun fire much more slowly, but also more powerfully. The mechs you encounter are the same ones from the main game, so you may recall a lot of them go berserk and charge you, often in groups. With Pigsy the melee-based mechs typically come in pairs at most, but two is all there needs to be to overwhelm you since you can cattle prod only one of them. So, you need to use your devices.
Over the course of the adventure you’ll acquire four devices. There’s the distraction device, which works like Trip’s hologram except you throw it like a grenade. You’ll use this a lot to draw mechs away so you can sneak past, or you can snipe them while they are hypnotized. The second device is the EMP grenade, which works how you’d expect – just note that you can throw the hologram first to draw mechs together so you can nail them all with the EMP. Then you get the love mine, which you place on the ground and then detonate to “hack” mechs and turn them to your side. Finally, you get a regular old remote mine. None of these devices are particularly imaginative, but combining the uses of them and figuring out where and when to use them is interesting and fun. Since you need to prevent mechs from getting close to you, the devices are integral to the combat, and luckily all of them remain useful until the end.
Problems of frustration arise from the design in several ways. For comparison, we died maybe 10-20 times during the entire campaign of Enslaved, but in this DLC, which is maybe 4-5 hours, we probably died 30-40 times. Every single encounter with enemies will cause instant death of you make one mistake. It doesn’t help that Pigsy is appropriately not as nimble as Monkey, but he’s downright unresponsive and clunky, especially when you’re trying to duck behind cover. The controls for the devices are also weird enough that we died a number of times trying to use the correct device in a split second with mechs bearing down on us. For instance, say you mess up and you need to use the love mine quickly. You have to press down on the D-pad to select it, hold the left shoulder button to pull it out, press the right trigger to place it, and then press square/X to detonate it. It’s easy to accidentally pull out your gun instead and boom you’re dead.
Above: This is Truffles. He's possibly the most adorable sidekick we've seen in years
Despite the frustrations and our numerous deaths, we never got really annoyed at the DLC. The checkpoints are well placed and because the combat is methodical it becomes fun puzzling out how to not get killed a second time in a scenario. You can really plan things out, try different approaches, and when it comes together like clockwork its satisfying and makes you feel like a pro. It also of course takes place in Enslaved’s wonderful, original world, which is a joy to explore. The entire adventure occurs in the junkyard where Monkey and Trip met Pigsy, so it’s all rusted metal instead of the lush crumbled environments that made up the prettiest parts of Enslaved, but it’s still cool to look at and has lots of verticality and makes great use of 3D space.
And speaking of 3D, the DLC brings 3D to not only this new side story but also to the original game. It supports both 3D TVs and regular 2D TVs - the latter of which uses the TriOviz red-and-green glasses – you know, just like old-fashioned 3D. We played the entire DLC with the TriOviz glasses and we must say they work really well considering how low-tech they are. They freak out your eyes at first, but after a minute or so the game takes on convincing 3D and the colors become almost totally normal. There is some weird flickering, and it made our eyes hurt a little bit, but we didn’t have much of a problem playing through, with a few breaks, and we dug the effect quite a bit. Others might not find it as enjoyable, but if you only have a 2D TV and really want to try it, you can find the glasses here.
Finally, it wouldn’t be Enslaved without a great story, and Pigsy doesn’t disappoint. It’s extremely simple and mostly goofy, light-hearted antics. Pigsy is totally endearing, and if you didn’t like him before we’d be surprised if he didn’t win you over this time. The story seems totally unremarkable, but where it ends up going was downright beautiful for us, and we honestly got a bit emotional at the end. We can’t say why it affected us so much, which is a testament to Ninja Theory’s storytelling prowess – it just sneaked up on us and went somewhere really cool. So if you’re willing to fight through some frustration and don’t absolutely hate sniping or stealth, this DLC is very much worth playing.
Dec 17, 2010