Heavenly Sword developers Ninja Theory are taking another crack at a 3D action adeventure with Enslaved. By this point in the day my feet were starting to throb and I was nearly all gamed out. It's a credit to the game that for the 15 minutes that I played, I completely forgot about my discomfort for a while. Set in a dystopian future where robots rule the earth, you play as a tribalistic, hulk of a man with a female technologist as a partner. She's not a fighter, which would normally drag a game dangerously close into escort mission territory, but there are a few things they do to mitigate that.
Rather than have her disappear and reappear when needed like the princess in 2008's Prince of Persia reboot; the girl will handle herself well enough to find cover when needed. When you do finally need her to computer hack a door or create a distraction, there's a simple interface you bring up with a press of the left trigger that let's you give her commands. At one point in the demo you'll start by yelling at some robot sentries so they focus fire on you while she runs across open ground to cover. Then she provides a similar distraction at your command as you work your way in behind the enemies. Once you get to this point, the Heavenly Sword influence shows and you fight with the usual button combinations and slow motion final blows.
Like Heavenly Sword, the animations stand out as being more than motion capped actors running around on a stage. The protagonist moves like a beast at times, despite his obviously being human. During cutscenes, the faces are incredibly detailed and evocative in ways that make you care more about the characters on the screen. What's a bit odd is that they haven't really raised the bar any further than what they'd set with Heavenly Sword back in 2007. It looks good, don't get me wrong, but I was surprised at the lack of clear advancements. Entirely possible we'll be blown away by the final product when all the polish and shine is added.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by Enslaved. The world they've presented in this thin slice of game is very intriguing and the relationship between the two characters shows a lot of promise. Keep an eye out for this one.
Xbox 360, PS3