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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Trees don’t assume much. Ground to grow in, water to drink, air to breathe and sunlight to eat – their wants are few and the earth provides. But humans seem to hate them anyway. We push them from our cities into cramped ghettos, chop them up to keep us warm and dry, and poison every source of their sustenance with reckless abandon.
This world was once theirs. It will be again.
Enslaved offers a refreshing vision of the coming apocalypse. Rather than trade in the same three browns that characterize most end-of-days games, Enslaved explodes with colour. In the absence of human interference, nature has reclaimed the cities. Trees burst from the concrete and crown the tops of skyscrapers; vines choke dead wires and unhook bricks from their mortar.
In 150 years the world will not be a barren wasteland, but a thriving forest, full of all the life humans have sought so desperately to dominate in our time as masters of the earth. Not only does this backdrop provide a welcome alternative to what gamers have come to expect from the apocalypse, it presents a contextual view of human malfeasance as a temporary problem. While there may be no hope for man as he is now, there will always be hope for the world.
Enslaved abandons another tired staple of The End; in this new Eden, there are no zombies.
The terrible hubris of man instead pays out its wage in murderous robots. For the past ten years popular culture has been so obsessed with the Zombie Menace we’ve forgotten vigilance against the inevitable Robot Uprising. Relics of wars long done, the now-verdant streets of Enslaved’s New York are patrolled by dangerous automatons. No one was around to turn them off; they just ran out of humans to kill.
In the real world, it’s as if the zombie apocalypse has already happened – only instead of playing out in the corpses of our friends and loved ones, it has come about in our films and comics and books and games. So many damn zombies. They can still be a potent metaphor and will always work as gameplay gun-fodder. But variety is the spice of life. We are much overdo a new, credible threat.
This is just the stage Enslaved sets, but a significant part of why it is my most anticipated game this year. Murderous robots and meek trees – in an industry of endless apocalyptic me-too, finally something new.