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Enslaved As It Should Have Been

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 9 Nov 2010 12:00
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In the far future a vast colony ship has been sent out into deep space to find and colonize a new world, populated by the best and brightest of humanity, and maintained by a fleet of menial robot workers. One of these robots, fuck it, let's just call him Monkey, becomes self-aware through observing the peaceful, philosophical, hedonistic existences the on-board humans lead. Discontent with his assigned role as an underling Monkeybot starts acting up, abandoning his tasks to rabble-rouse among the other robots and acquire unauthorized upgrades to his system. When he starts becoming too much for the humans to handle, they offer to make him an honorary human being and give him a place among them. In actuality they just make him the personal steward for the high-ranking officers, with no actual rights including him in the human lifestyle, and he soon rebels, using his new access to restricted areas to upgrade himself with vital ship components, threatening the mission. The humans are forced to power him down and put him in vacuum storage. This is all the intro and tutorial, by the way, introducing gameplay through combat with security robots and fetch quests.

Hundreds of years later a missive arrives from Earth, and it is revealed that the colony ship had another purpose: to act as a vast archive of humanity's culture, knowledge and secrets of living in peace and harmony. At some point after the ship was sent out, Earth suffered a catastrophic series of wars that left everyone bombed back into the stone age, and the archived information on the colony ship is needed in order to get humanity back on its feet. The humans on the ship know that the only thing that can live long enough to escort the needed data all the way back to Earth is a robot. They copy it all into the head of a random menial droid that happens to be called Tripitaka because fuck you. But over time various sinister alien races and Earth separatist groups have harboured reasons to not want the world-changing information to return to humanity, somehow, and Tripitaka himself needs an escort. So they dig their most powerful robot out of mothballs, the Monkeybot, and place a subroutine in his programming that forces him to co-operate (one wonders why they didn't think of doing that before), before pushing the two of them off in an escape pod (which looks a bit like a horse) and dusting their hands in satisfaction at a job well done.

From there, I'm thinking the game would have a Zelda-y structure, an odyssey through space Star Trek Voyager-style gathering new abilities and allies on the way. There'd be time lapses of centuries in between the main encounters (plenty of opportunities to fill in the blanks with expansion packs, Mr. Producer). Our heroes could explore the universe, go to all kinds of fantastic locations and experience all kinds of different gameplay. Monkey in the story has all kinds of awesome powers that can be made into gameplay mechanics - he can shapeshift into a ridiculous number of forms, creating a sort of Kameo-esque environmental puzzle system, and he of course has that flying cloud, which I will choose to reinterpret as a jetpack. Christ, I love those fucking things.

Perhaps the various locations and encounters could individually be based around the various adventures the gang go on throughout the book. Whatever those were. Confession time - I've never actually read Journey to the West. But that's OK, because neither did Ninja Theory. And if this game ever gets made, you won't have to either. You're welcome.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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