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X360, PS3 (Reviewed)
Released: June 21, 2011
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture have the wonderful ability to create games that fans will absolutely adore, but they have virtually no chance of appealing to the mass market. Killer 7 and No More Heroes both offered experiences that were uniquely Suda, with captivating art styles and a disregard for conventions and, in an industry drenched in sameyness and supposed sequel fatigue they managed to sell as well as a pork roast on Hannukah. If any of his games would have a shot at mainstream acceptance, it should’ve been Shadows of the Damned.
Suda’s trademark attitude is pushed to the forefront immediately as Garcia “Fucking” Hotspur is confronted by the (first) death of his girlfriend Paula. While I wasn’t exactly surprised by her death, but the event is handled with so little ceremony it can be more than a ltitle disarming. Suda treats her death, and subsequent deaths, with such disregard. This plays into what is easily one of Shadows’ biggest strengths: the atmosphere.
Released: Oct 5 2010 US, Oct 8 2010 EU
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Namco Bandai
I let Enslaved: Odyssey to the West slip by when it first released. I hear tell it released smack dab in the middle of a busy fall brimming with big name titles, and that’s why it didn’t make much of a splash, but I knew what it was at the time and was pretty sure I wanted it. Alas, I can’t remember why I didn’t buy it then, but I’m glad that its fluctuating 10 to 20 dollar price tag spent months insisting that I didn’t have a good reason for not playing it, because it was right.
Enslaved has a wonderful main menu. Yes, the place where you click options to get you to things you’re more interested in. It’s a screen within your screen. In the foreground, there is part of the side of a girl’s face, looking at the screen, much like you are. Through the reflection of the screen, you can see her face fully. Her eyes occasionally dart to the side. Sometimes she blinks. When you select an option, her hand appears from off screen and familiarly brushes the touch screen, navigating to a different page. Coupled with the overlaid ambient track, the scene is arresting, pensive.