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Video games – more so than any other form of entertainment – are a confluence of artistry and technology. While specialized hardware and software provide developers with the tools necessary to craft them, creativity and skill are necessary in order to know how to make proper use of these tools. And like in any other artistic medium, the only way to improve this creativity and skill is through experience.
Perhaps no other word better describes Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. An action-adventure game set within a fantastical post-apocalypse, Enslaved charmed many people with its exciting combat and heartfelt story, but sold well under what most games of its genre typically boast upon its release, resulting in it quickly slipping under the radar for most mainstream gamers. Yet its development – which saw several famous Hollywood figures team up with Ninja Theory – served as an invaluable learning experience for the studio, teaching its staff lifelong lessons on how to engage players using narrative and gameplay in tandem, as well as how to craft deep and emotionally fulfilling characters within the medium’s limitations. It helped its creators transition from being a good video game developer, to a great one, and set them up to eventually become even better with its subsequent endeavors.
Sometimes, the destination is the most important part of video game development – while other times, the journey is paramount. With Ninja Theory’s third project, the latter proved more true than anything else.
This is the history of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
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