Go to Xbox Academy - xba.psuni.com
 

Is Ninja Theory this generation’s Team ICO?

14 Comments | posted
icotheory1

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.

Posted in Editorials, Featured |

Comments (14)

  • Reigen

    i couldent hawe wrote this better myself
    i hawe the same wiew on these 2 dewelopers
    great games, such interaction, touching story and that without a ff sized script,
    but are barely known compared to less capable dewelopers such as infinity w and rockstar…

  • Gamer4Lyfe

    Great read & right on the money. Ninja Theory did a phenomenal job on Heavenly Sword & Enslaved, which both have quickly become my favorite games ever. Note that I’ve been gaming since 6 yo on the NES, so that says alot on how I feel about these games.

    Everybody will be looking for Enslaved once they get tired of playing the whacked-ass Call of Duty games. I blame Enslaved’s poor sales on not only CoD but bad marketing & timing for this great game. Word of mouth & articles like yours help a soon-to-be cult classic like Enslaved & Heavenly Sword get some additional sales. Sadly however, cheap ass gamers will buy these games used & Ninja Theory won’t see a dime on them.

    ~G4L~

  • Robert

    No. Just no. Team Ico created art that melts with passion and purpose. Their games come alive with a sense of satisfaction and enlightenment upon completion. There’s depth in isolation. Their games talks to the players without saying a word. It grabs you, pulls you in, whispers its messages, and then lets you go.

    Ninja Theory games doesn’t do any of that. They’re phenomenal games, but they’re nowhere close to being on the same level. At the end of Enslaved and Heavenly Sword, you can ask “so what?” and get nothing. The game doesn’t serve any purpose. There’s no real goal that the designer is trying to convey. It’s just a fun time in a blockbuster styled game. And that’s great. They’re both great games, but they lack the depth of carrying a meaningful take-away for the player. At the end, what were the point of spending all that time in those games? Nothing. Just to have some fun I suppose. Great characters, interesting worlds, but there’s no purpose in the narrative or the game. There’s no enlightenment to them, there’s really no point to them.

  • brian

    I’ve only played SotC, and it is for that reason I’m going to agree with Robert completely on what he’s said about the games. The developers, Team Ico’s humble, quiet, and generally good natured. Ninja Theory is filled with a bunch of whiney devs who’s second outing, Enslaved was both worse graphically and glitchier. And all that time leading up to release they told everybody how much better it was to be a multiplatform dev. That Sony was the reason Heavenly Sword didn’t sell way more than 2 million copies. Then without Sony, they sell less than 500,000. I have no respect for these guys, I bought both their games, and their games have no right to be held up with the Ico’s artistic debuts in the medium. As developers, those two shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence without mentioning that Team Ico is in some way better than Ninja Theory.
    Ninja Theory try and try and think they’ve made something like Ico or SotC. And think that they give the world something to be remembered, like Ico, in 10 years. Then they whine about how millions didn’t get to experience their vision. Which I can tell you without a doubt in my mind, was no where near as spectacular as what Team Ico have delivered in their two games.

  • Kopkiwi

    I think you miss understood the article Robert.

    • The Dean

      A lot of people did, lol.

  • Tom

    What are you guys nuts? Ninja Theory?! They are talentless hacks compared to the amazing people at Team Ico. Personally I don’t think they have much talent at all, Enslaved was a so-so game to me and they are ruining Devil May Cry. Not sure what your really basing this on but a 3rd party team using another company’s middle ware who has produced titles of questionable quality can’t hold a candle to Team Ico and they never will. From where I sit Ninja Theory is the new Rare and destined to the same fate.

  • anon707

    I honestly have not read a sillier gaming article this month. You people are crazy, you know. It’s no where close, no where near close. You aren’t even gamers, are you?

  • daevv

    Heavenly Sword is next to Metal Gear 4 as games that needed a trophy update…

  • Dingo

    they are closer to Double Fine than Team Ico… they make GOOD games not great.

    • Gatsu

      Hey hey hey now, watch it! Psychonauts was a masterpiece!

  • Ambient23

    Excellent article; I couldn’t agree more with it. I haven’t seen such passion in games, such as NT shows, in a long time and I’m glad more people are picking up on it.

    “No. Just no. Team Ico created art that melts with passion and purpose. Their games come alive with a sense of satisfaction and enlightenment upon completion.

    Ninja Theory games doesn’t do any of that.

    They’re phenomenal games, but they’re nowhere close to being on the same level. At the end of Enslaved and Heavenly Sword, you can ask “so what?” and get nothing. The game doesn’t serve any purpose. There’s no real goal that the designer is trying to convey.”

    Of course there is. I think you should give them another chance; go back and play them again and this time really listen.

    ” That Sony was the reason Heavenly Sword didn’t sell way more than 2 million copies.”

    I think you’re making that up. I don’t remember them ever putting the blame on anyone for HS sales numbers.

  • Gatsu

    Im sorry, Ninja Theory while great, is nowhere near on the same level as Team Ico. When you play Ico or SoTC you feel like your looking into a modern art masterpeice. Every corner of them exudes quality and attention to detail. These games have soul and character and they leave you thinking well after you finish them. HS and Enslaved were great but they were just impulse buys. There was no lingering thoughts on what will or could have happened. Just one and done. I can’t compare the two companies on anything other then sales figures and even then its a stretch cause enslaved bombed terribly on 2 platforms, while sotc sold solidly.

  • Max

    LOL at this article.

Leave a Reply

*

Integrated by BBPixel ©2004-2014 MSI Engine