Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the not-so- well-known spectacle fighter, “ENSLAVED: Odyssey to the West“, made by Ninja Theory.
In the game, you play as Monkey, who just broke out of a slave ship and grabbed onto an escape pod and flew to freedom. The escape pod he grabbed onto has a young girl, Trip, who was also escaping the slave ship. Monkey wears a headband that connects him and Trip, making it so that she can control him. If she were to die, he would as well. Both characters are now on an adventure to gain freedom and avoid the slavers.
Monkey is a tall, muscular man with animalistic features. My favorite thing about the character of Monkey is he is based on Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King. Anyone who plays “League of Legends” or “Smite” or even anyone who watched “Dragon Ball”, as Goku is also based on Wukong, knows what this entails. Monkey is always hunched over and runs like an animal. He fights with a staff that freely extends. He also has the controlling headband like Wukong and dresses like a monkey. He only wears gloves and tight brown pants with no shirt or shoes. He even has a sash that often looks like a tail flapping behind him. Even the flips and jumps he does while fighting show you the primal nature to him. And then we have Trip, a 19 year old girl with red hair that looks like loose dreadlocks. She keeps it tied back and wears a cloth that serves as a rudimentary headband. She wears a very simple crop top, forearm length gloves and tight, black, leather pants that are ripping. Trip’s whole ensemble is very much like a tribal jungle nomad. Personally, I prefer Monkey’s character design, but that doesn’t mean Trip’s isn’t any less interesting.
The main enemies are the slaver mechs. I am not usually a huge mech fan but these guys look pretty awesome. The most basic form of mech is a hunched over, vicious looking machine, covered in blades. They have hind legs like a velociraptor, a singular glowing eye that stares you down and massive blades for hands. They are well armed predators. Another mech class is the stun mech. These guys are asylum beasts. Theyare very similar to the previous mechs, except that they don’t have any blades. Instead, they have spinning turbines on them that create electrical arches around their bodies and can launch blasts of EMPS. Their arm and leg armor is round with the electrical energy jumping between their limbs. Their faces are simple spheres in the shape of a head except that have no facial features. There’s also the dog mech boss. This thing is a freaky combination of dog, monster and human. It hunchs over and walks like a dog, but has human like limbs with a five fingered hand. It’s tongue hangs out dripping what looks like oil. You can actually see the joints and pipes that make up it’s body as it charges at you and tries to claw you to ribbons. Also because this world is post apocalypse, the metals of all of these machines look very worn and old. They all look rusted and dated because the world is covered in organic plants. The overgrowth must make the environment hard on the metals.
The world appears to be devoid of our modern technology; the only technology is the mechs and slavers equipment. The world itself is taken over completely by plant life and natural creatures. New York City is covered in huge green vines and moss, with grass growing through everywhere. Birds fly around freely and water flows through various places. The roads and gone and destroyed and of course you see some cars leftover completely taken over by plant life. The setting has the beautiful natural apocalypse to it rather than the dingy brown kind of idea like “Rage.” In fact, the predominant colors are blue and green in a lot of places. In contrast, much of the technology and signs of human life have a warm color palette. For example Monkey’s gloves or the mechanical bridges in Trip’s home village.
This game is quite a beautiful piece of work by Ninja Theory and proves they have an amazing art skill. Much like in “DmC: Devil May Cry” the visuals to the level design are intricate and fascinating. They seem to have a good grasp on the concept of art design. However, they leave something to be desired for characters. I wouldn’t say the game will blow you out of the water, but it’s a fairly solid spectacle fighter with some good platforming aspects. So if you like the genre go for it.