Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Welcome to Pigsyland

Pigsy's Perfect 10 is Ninja Theory's first downloadable episode for Enslaved. Read on to find out whether it's worth the price of admission despite the absence of Monkey and Trip.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: December 26, 2010
When Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was released at the beginning of this holiday season, many of its flaws were a result of the game's technological foundation barely managing to keep up with its creators' artistic vision. The at times outdated-feeling Unreal Engine 3 groaned and scrunched at the task of having to display a beautiful, post-apocalyptic world that Ninja Theory, makers of the PS3 exclusive and not less pretty Heavenly Sword, carefully crafted. Aside from the overstrained graphics engine, an often shallow feeling gameplay foundation and a lack of polish played a significant role in preventing the Cambridge, UK based studio's latest title from becoming a game everyone could appreciate equally.


It's all the more astounding that despite all of the aforementioned, the artistic vision was solid enough to keep the entire ship afloat. The rock solid acting and great chemistry between Monkey (Andy Serkis) and Trip (Lindsey Shaw) were one of the game's fascinations, which is why I was rather worried when I found out that Pigsy's Perfect 10 would focus solely on Pigsy (Richard Ridings), a character (in every sense of the word) who Trip and Monkey meet halfway through the main game.

However it turns out Pigsy isn't entirely alone on his quest to build the perfect female companion. His best, and only, friend Truffles is a small flying robot who's always happy, no matter what, and the level of attachment that you will likely have developed towards him by the end of this three to four hour long adventure is quite astonishing.

With Pigsy being the main protagonist now, the overall tone and mood of the DLC is much less serious compared to Monkey and Trip's adventure. That's not to say that it's any less fleshed out. A steady hand for character driven- and emotionally meaningful plots is a talent Ninja Theory is well known for, and those attributes shine throughout Pigsy's adventure, becoming more and more glaring as it moves along. The only notable issue is the narrative's pacing, especially toward the beginning. It takes a while for the plot to gain momentum and the characters to shake off their one dimensional dust coating, but once that happens, this short story-like DLC unfolds its entire potential quite impressively.

From a gameplay perspective Pigsy's adventure feels like its own thing. This isn't just a couple more hours of Enslaved. Pigsy has his own set of skills and weaknesses that need to be taken into account when fighting the mechs. Due to his ehh... anatomic anomalies, Pigsy can't rely on Monkey's acrobatic climbing skills, and neither can he directly fight mechs in hand-to-hand combat. Instead he makes use of a number of weapons and gadgets. For instance, in order to traverse the environment and reach higher platforms, Pigsy uses a mechanical claw that's attached to a wire. With it he can both ascend and descend between platforms. Yet unlike Batman and his batclaw in Arkham Asylum, Pigsy's mechanical hook only works at very specific points in the game. This makes for a very linear and narrow progression, which at times can be rather frustrating.

More interesting is his set of four different “gadgets,” each with its own effect on the mechs. Getting past a number of enemies would be sheer impossible would Pigsy not carry those around with him at all times. Each gadget takes a bit of time to recharge, which is why tactical cleverness is crucial for success. Without going into too much detail, the idea behind most battles is to either distract enemies with a dummy grenade and then blast their heads off with Pigsy's sniper rifle, or to lure them closer to you in order to have them be in range for your mines. One makes the mechs turn on one another for a short amount of time, and the other just blasts them to pieces. It's not a revolutionary gameplay mechanic, but certainly more fun and tactically challenging than using Monkey's staff to beat up those mechs.

Like its bigger brother, Pigsy's adventure manages to entertain mainly thanks to its charm and wit, and not so much because of its spectacularly original gameplay. That's not to say that it's not fun to blast a mech's head off with your sniper rifle, or figure out how to get past a large group of turrets without being seen. In fact, I found that the at times puzzle-like combat kept things surprisingly interesting and fresh.

Ultimately your enjoyment of Pigsy's Perfect 10 is quite dependent on how tolerant towards many of Enslaved's initial faults you can be, and more importantly, how much you care for good storytelling and believable characters. Once I got past a certain point, Pigsy and Truffles' adventure clicked with me. It's not perfect and probably not worth your time if you've had enough of Enslaved, but for everyone else $10 should sound like a fair deal.
The Verdict
8.0

Those of you who enjoyed Enslaved will have no regrets with this surprisingly lengthy and fun adventure. Everyone else should write an angry letter to Namco Bandai/Ninja Theory demanding a more polished sequel instead.

8.0Graphics:

Like Enslaved, it looks stunning at times. Other times the choppy framerate and ugly texture pop-in make you wonder whether using the Unreal Engine 3 was such a smart move.

8.5Sound:

Great voice acting and solid sound is supported by a well placed, mostly atmospherically competent score.

8.0Control:

With the exception of some annoying detection issues when trying to descend from platforms, there's not much to complain about here.

7.5Gameplay:

Unspectacular but solid. In fact, I think it's slightly more interesting than the main game's mix of hand-to-hand combat, rock climbing and sneaking.