Skip to main content
Unreal Tournament

Review: Enslaved

Enslaved's build quality is magnificent.

Project information

Unreal Tournament
Single Map

Main review

If you've noticed the @utgame's twitter account recently, you might have spotted that I've finally played the updated version of Enslaved by Kaka. Enslaved was originally a submission for the's 8th Anniversary Speedmapping Contest and ultimately ranked 4th, with me giving it a 5 due to how (mostly) buggy the release was. Kaka eventually promised an improved re-release afterwards. Some years later and there we are with it finally out, as a test for a possible The Chosen One release with Kaka recently promising again that it will still see the light the day.
To be honest, I'm not sure how much has actually changed between the contest version and the newer one, aside the fact that usable weapon turrets have been added.

Enslaved's build quality is magnificent. It is easily one of the best visually crafted works ever made for Unreal Engine 1. The sky island terrain is perfect; at first you don't think about it that much but once you proceed through the early parts of the map, you realize how enormous the sky island actually is, and how many locations are there. You even go underground. It's incredible how this was possible to make in such an old engine, without any sort of very noticeable bugs. There isn't one part of the level that looks dull, every spot is good for a screenshot; the indoor parts fare quite well, the underground cave in particular needs a mention for being as impressive as the outdoor parts. Everything is fantastic.

Lighting is fine. Most of the outdoor section appears to have a steady monotone light all over it but this is mostly due to engine limitations. The skybox is very colorful and the use of surrounding fog managed to give the sky island background sheets a believable 3D effect to them. Lighting is also what made the already mentioned underground cave exceptional.
The grass texture looks sort of weird (probably any replacement would have fared the same, anyway) and the rock texture that's used for every mountain brush looks ugly up-close in various parts of the map.

Not everything is that perfect though - prepare to see a lot of disappearing trees if you look at them from a certain angle (this is sadly an UT mesh bug) and you might also spot a lava brush sheet from the underground cave popping out of the sky island terrain. Common are also invisible walls that can cause gameplay problems (one forces you to ghost to pick the GES BioRifle, another happens right in a valley with several Skaarj Troopers causing hilarious results), due to the engine not behaving that well with the map's visual complexity. There are also various HOM bugs that hurt the visuals in certain spots of the level, especially near the main Nali village.

There aren't killer BSP holes but one of these invisible walls (one at the end of a lift ride) force you to ghost through, which isn't nice. Another part where you are forced to ghost through is when you have to access the last part of the level throughout the village, as doors remain closed even when you should have unlocked them; this isn't related to geometry issues but just trigger-type actors, mistakes that can be easily fixed and shouldn't have been in the first place anyway.
The gameplay is, actually to my surprise, fun and good. Back when I played the original Enslaved I clearly remember it to be one of the worst points about the level because Kaka did all of it in one day. Not almost the case anymore here. It starts very rough, at least on Unreal difficulty, but it gets soft quickly when ammo starts to be plentiful; some of the weapon/ammo placement is like straight out of a multiplayer map.
New additions to Enslaved are turrets. They're based on the Infiltration ones supposedly, as they work exactly like the ones found in Na Pali Haven: Redux. They also have the same bugs, including the very annoying one that permanently breaks your weapon inventory. Here they come with good-looking unique meshes and act like enhanced versions of the primary fires of Stinger and Flak Cannon. When used, they leave you extremely vulnerable and if you're facing a Skaarj while using a Stinger turret, consider run away because the Skaarj will likely kill you first. The Flak Cannon turrets are much more useful and they'll be essential to kill some big creatures, including the boss themselves that should not pose any problem. You will find enough health and armor mid-level onward.
However, there's one gameplay feature that is almost capable of killing the game experience. I'm talking about those brainwashed Nali that suddenly pop up in certain spots of the map (very few spots, at least) and start summoning Skaarj Warriors, one after one, without stopping. Leave them and they'll fill the map of Skaarj that will cause the framerate to drop down and to make those areas they are in literally inaccessible because you can't fight that many Skaarj spawned. Some of these Nali battles are optional but there are some that are mandatory and unless you know where they are going to spawn, chances are 100% likely you won't be fast enough to stop them before they summon an army. You have to learn their spawning spots and the timing of their appearance in order to bring them down before nothing bad happens. It's painful how this happens in such a professional-looking level and you have to cheat to go through some of its parts. This is what stops Enslaved from being a monster of a single player map. I would have let things pass if it wasn't for the Nali summoners. And these were apparently in the old version of Enslaved, how these Nali went past the thinking-out-of-the-box gameplay testing? Another bug with these Nali is that after they are dead, the teleport sounds keep playing on their spot.

The sounds haven't improved much from the original Enslaved. Music doesn't add much until the last part of the map and most of the time you hear just wind or nothing at all.

The story is pretty subtle and the translator messages are minimal. You have to escape the place and that's about it, there aren't any sort of plot twists that keep the story interesting. The map is quite long and there's a lot of exploration.


A fantastic looking-map with a lot of locations to explore but brought down by geometry bugs and huge gameplay issues; despite them, the rest of the gameplay is very enjoyable.

download link:

Build (40%)
  • Architecture
    Imagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.
  • Texturing
    Use of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.
  • Lighting
    Lighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).
  • Sound
    Use of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.
  • Technical Execution
    Technical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.
Cast (30%)
  • Conceptual Grandness
    Scale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.
  • Story Construction
    Backing story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.
  • Story Implementation
    Progression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.
  • Gameplay Awe
    Quality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.
  • Gameplay Balance
    Balance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.

Other reviews