Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Analysis

I was fortunate enough to play Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The game was a great quality game.  The writing was superb.  Character interactions with the voice acting really made the characters come alive, which created a game that was the means to telling a story.  In my opinion, some of the strongest games ever made told an interactive story – like reading a book.  To finish off the game review part of this post, the graphics were superb.  My gaming machine is not top of the line by any stretch of the imagination and had to play the game at a measly 800 x 600 resolution.  But the game was still pretty!  The colors were very bright and bold, and really showcased the variety of the Unreal Engine.  I was impressed.  The sound effects that were tied to different instances and interactions in the game was of the highest quality and really tied in the experience.  You add that on top of a very thought provoking story and character development, and you have a game that will always be remembered.

With that done, I can now focus on what I really want to think about.  It is the implications and statement that this story brings.  And so I am going to make it known from here on out I will be spoiling the game.  Because, in order to have a resolution of the story one has to beat the entire game.  So if you want to play this game and enjoy the experience like you should, then I advise you close the browser or tab and stop reading.

The beginning starts with one of the core three characters, Monkey.  He is called monkey because he resembles one – not through looks but by mere actions.  He battles with his fists and a staff, and is able to climb pretty much anywhere.  He is very strong.  You learn throughout the game that he may lack the computer intelligence, but his resourcefulness and survivability and bar none.

In any case he wakes up in a capsule.  He cannot move.  The length of the trip was another 16 hours.  There is a red taint portrayed around his eyes to show his suffering.  He can’t sleep, is insanely bored, and can only stand in a capsule.  He can only think – nothing more.  Across from his capsule he sees a “slave” escape her pod.  This is the introduction of the second core characters, and her name is Trip.  Trip has a computer mind that can not be surpassed.  She uses her wrist computer to hack the pod she was in, and she continues to move through the huge ship.  Monkey with his resourcefulness escapes his pod and follows her.  They run into one another in the escape, but Trip leaves him for dead.  At the very end of the escape Trip occupies the last evacuation capsule.  Monkey on the other side pleads for her to let him in.  She pulls the trigger.  Monkey, clinging on for dear life, hangs onto the evacuation capsule until their landing.  This is the very beginning of the game.

When Monkey wakes, he finds a metal band across his head – Trip has enslaved him.  He wants to hurt her, but quickly there is cerebral pain experienced by Monkey.  And so, Monkey is forced to assist Trip in returning back to her hometown.  And the game is a story of their travels, and the growing bond between them.  At one point at the last stages of the game, Trip takes off the headband saying, “You can go.  There is nothing holding you back.”  Monkey looks at her with such seriousness in her eyes, “Put it back on me.”  Trip did.  I think the reason Monkey did that was because he knew himself enough to know that he would want to leave to survive.  He is a survivor.  The only way he would see things through and ensure the safety of Trip is if he was enslaved.  It was a beautiful moment.

Anyways, Monkey and Trip return to her self-sustaining community to find it slaughtered by mechs.  She is devastated and wants revenge.  This is the motivator to the end of the game, where they actually make it to Pyramid.  Pyramid is an entity responsible for enslaving millions of people and creating wastelands with its mech warriors.  The entire game the player does not necessarily know the motives behind Pyramid.  But Pyramid is exactly that.  It is a giant luminescent pyramid.  It was in a desert.  Which shows some resemblance of Ancient Egypt.  When Trip and Monkey enter the pyramid, they see thousands upon thousands of people standing in order engrossed by images being seen on their headbands (the same device that Monkey is wearing).  There is a man in the center, working freverously on a computer, wearing a mask and obviously being kept alive with mech technology.  He is very old.

It turns out that the old man was feeding memories of life on Earth before the big war.  The “slaves” were lost in a world of old Earth, living good positive experiences.  The old man wanted to provide those images to the masses to ease suffering, because all that is left of the world is wastelands with mechs.  Which he created by the way.  In his delusional eyes, he was doing humanity a favor.  He was removing the suffering of the world, a suffering that he helps contribute, by providing a new virtual life to the masses.  Even Monkey was transfixed.  He wanted to beat the argument of the old man at his own game, and had the images uploaded to his headband.  Monkey was starting to get lost in the images and memories, however Trip doing something for herself for once, kills the old man, bringing the entire pyramid back to reality.

The obvious statement that the story makes is that experiencing True reality regardless of the suffering involved is the right thing to do.  Otherwise one is not living.  The game also shows the danger of giving one man absolute power.  Even men in power are prone to delusions and faulty thinking, so even putting in place a leader with an extremely high IQ wouldn’t relieve that possibility.  I am however, for providing a ruling class consisting of individuals with exceptional intellectual ability.  Sort of like The Jedi Council in Star Wars.  I think that would be a much better and efficient way at ruling the country rather than having hundreds of representatives that just make up one third of the governmental body.  Our system has worked for sure, but I really do think it is time for a change.

But I think humanity is going to face a problem like this in the future.  Gaming technology is only going to improve and become more engrossive.  Eventually there will be virtual reality, and eventually we could probably pick the experience we would want to experience.  Humanity will undoubtedly create a reality that is better, easier, whatever the word, than our current reality.  Now we all have this desire to experience the reality for truly what it is.  But what if humanity could create a self-sustaining system that would provide a better reality for everyone?  We would definitely lose track of what is real.  And no real progress would be done to progress the species to other parts of the galaxy and beyond.  But isn’t the goal of humanity is to provide an oasis, a heaven on a planet so to speak?  It is in my experience, that we can already create better realities than our own.  I think eventually mankind would have the potential to create a self sustaining system bring virtual reality to the masses.  It could be individual instances, or it could be group.

So why am I sharing this?

We have to make a decision about video games addiction and video game entertainment as a society.  If unchecked and not debated, it very well could be possible that humanity will induce a Matrix onto themselves.  If that is what humanity wants, fine.  But we have to start thinking and debating along those lines.  We have to start making those governmental regulations to curb our tendencies.  However, it could be argued that someone is going to do it anyway if it is possible.  Which means I am scared.  The worship of a world created by humanity is the definition of idolatry in the eyes of humanism.  It will bring us further from being human.  And it is only until we become closer to what makes us human, do we feel more fulfilled.  That is what humanism would say.  But why does more fulfillment coincide with more suffering?  Is that a truth that we must accept?

Great provocative game.  The gameplay was great, the graphics and sound were great, and finally the story and character progression was very good.  I am very lucky to be able to experience this game in its entirety.



  1. November 10, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Interesting analysis. I really loved the characters Monkey and Trip and seeing their relationship evolve over the course of the game. The kind of wrecked beauty of the world was really neat too. I particularly enjoyed the parts in Trip’s village.


    • brengleman said,

      November 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      Yeah the evolution of Monkey and Trip’s relationship was really neat. I personally liked the moment when Trip was powering on the Leviathan. Lots of fighting! That is one criticism I should of fit in there in the post was that I loved fighting so much in that game. I wish there was more of it. The exploration however really did add to the game as well.


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