Saturday, December 25, 2010

Game of the Year 2010 Second Nomination: Enslaved Odyssey to the West

The second nomination for my GOTY 2010 goes to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, another game that didn't get the attention it deserved. This cinematic and jaw-droppingly gorgeous action/platformer, which takes place in a colorful post-apocalyptic world, combines some great character customization with a rock-solid combat system and music and sound design that's completely absorbing.

But what makes Enslaved truly stand out is its storyline, which, though maybe a bit predictable, features great chemistry between the two lead characters, Monkey and Trip, as well as the addition of the hilarious tagalong Pigsy in the game's final 1/3. Their banter throughout the game always feels convincing and natural, but then again, with a script co-written by 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland and the main character voiced by Andy Serkis, I guess that shouldn't have been too much of a surprise. The characters are so likable and the story is so well-presented that I found myself hooked into it in the same way that I was pulled into the Enslaved's gorgeous world. The visuals are not only great on a technical level, but artistically they shine as well, with some imaginative enemy designs and a fantastic lighting system that reminds me of the awesome-looking Dinosaur Planet from Star Fox Adventures back on the Gamecube. It's just such a colorful look, and I can't tell you how refreshing I found this in our era of so many brown and gray-looking games.

I just can't express how fun an experience Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is, from its start all the way to its mindblowing ending. It's an ending that's almost hauntingly beautiful, making fantastic use of live action footage in a very Wall-E like way, and it stuck with me long after the credits rolled. It's too bad that this game didn't sell all that well, but hopefully more people discover it down the road. It may not necessarily re-invent the genre, but what it does, it does so incredibly well.

Note: As with all the games that I've nominated, you can read my review of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West in the Archive, though keep in mind, my GOTY is not based on which game this year has gotten the best score. It's based on which game has, looking back, left the biggest impression on me and delivered the most memorable experience.

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