Despite all of this, Heavenly Sword sold roughly the same amount of total units to date that Ico had. While development costs were cheaper back then, costs now forced Ninja Theory into making decisions anyone hoping for a sequel didn’t want to see be made and that was going multiplatform with its next project. The lack of sales and original install base was truly painful overall and Sony was very poor at delivering marketing campaigns at the time as well. However, anyone who has picked up Heavenly Sword as a late adopter usually has only great things to say about it and the game definitely has its own cult following that lurks in the darkness preparing for a sequel to finally show up.
So, that brings us to the next title, which happens to have been recently released by Ninja Theory via Namco Bandai entitled, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. While Enslaved and Heavenly Sword don’t feel as though they’re from a similar universe like both of Team Ico’s titles, you can definitely get the sense of feeling that Ninja Theory used a lot of its experience and knowledge gained from Heavenly Sword to create Enslaved. For example, the character interaction between Monkey and Trip is phenomenal and helps push Enslaved ahead of all other titles involving sidekicks.
When Enslaved released, it faired a bit better than Heavenly Sword did in the Metacritic rankings, similar to how SotC bested Ico as well. It wasn’t by a wide margin, but by a mere couple of points that still matter – am I right?! Anyway, Enslaved also released a piece of downloadable content known as Pigsy’s Perfect 10 and it should also be noted that this tiny piece of DLC was highly rated by most publications and was definitely a “must buy” DLC for 2010. The one downfall that Pigsy’s Perfect 10 had was that sometimes the controls were clunky, and reviewers hit it hard for that mistake (but let’s be honest, SotC wasn’t exactly smooth controlling either, but didn’t receive much criticism for it).
Much like Ico and SotC, Enslaved was praised for its story-telling and user-grasping abilities. This is the biggest likeness that both Team Ico and Ninja Theory share and it’s something that deserves to be recognized as it is, in my opinion, a dying art in the industry. While gameplay is definitely important, an engaging story should be considered as equally important as well.
Suffice to say, Enslaved didn’t receive quite the ambitious marketing strategies that SotC did, and as a result, it failed to do well in sales figures across the globe. Sadly enough, it didn’t even measure up to Heavenly Sword despite being more well received than its predecessor. Oddly though, when you check out gaming forums, users who have played the game definitely praise it more than they condemn it and not too many show regret for their purchases. That’s something to be said in a time when 100s of games are releasing every year and regrets are made on a Tuesday-by-Tuesday basis.
Regardless of how you want to look at this entire situation, it is incredibly similar how both small-time developers managed to deliver great titles that are worth a play-through, yet everyone avoided them to an extent the first time around. Despite the lack of notice, both developers pushed forward and delivered a secondary title worthy of your time and both times, gamers weren’t lined up around the corner to purchase them. However, several years down the road, once the new PlayStation’s and Xbox’s are released, I have a funny feeling that both titles will be considered part of the “must play” lists of the 7th generation of gaming – just like Shadow of the Colossus and Ico were for the 6th.