The Let's Play Archive

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

by ritcheyz

Part 1: A brief history of the original Journey to the West and the Monkey King.

Let's talk Journey to the West. Firstly, it is one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature, and was originally written in the 16th century. The novel describes a quest by the monk Xuanzang, who was very spiritual from a young age. Due to social and political unrest, he traveled across China in search of Buddhist texts. The texts that he found showed him that the Buddhist religion had been changed and muddled in its journey to China, and his seventeen year journey to find the source of Buddhism from China to India became a popular autobiography. Journey to the West is a fictionalized account, turning China into a fascinating, fantastical realm.

Our main character, called "Monkey" which is actually a reference to the original story's common translated name in the West, is based off of Sun Wukong, one of the most popular and iconic characters of Chinese literature.

Sun Wukong waged war against Heaven, as the Monkey King, and ended up losing to Buddha. Buddha, in turn, entombed him in a rock for five hundred years (a subtle reference here is Monkey being trapped and turned into a slave). It would take Xuanzang stumbling upon his rock for Sun Wukong to be freed.

But that freedom comes at a cost. Sun Wukong is tricked by Guan Yin, a bodhissatva, into putting on a magical headband/circlet that can never be removed once put on. This circlet can, through a Buddhist incantation, tighten and cause Sun Wukong incredible pain, and this mantra is taught to Xuanzang. Under Xuanzang's supervision, Sun Wukong accompanies him westward.

Sun Wukong possesses an extraordinary amount of abilities, many of which are above and beyond even the most powerful superheroes in, say, American comics. I'm talking Super Saiyan Level Infinity powers (which is funny, since Goku and the Dragonball series are based off of the same novel). He has a cloud, which is what Monkey refers to here, only it is a literal cloud that Sun Wukong flies upon to travel places. Along with the cloud, the ever-changing staff is another of Sun Wukong's famous items. In the novel, the staff is about 18,000 lbs. It can be manipulated in size and length to any conceivable form Sun Wukong wants it to be in. He can also travel about 33,500 miles in a single somersault.

Sun Wukong also has 72 transformations he can perform, although he can't transform into other people because he can't get rid of his own tail (signified, in-game, by the scarf). He knows a variety of spells, some that could even imprison gods, and can even clone himself -- each of his hairs have magical properties.

That's about all I can go into right now. Enslaved doesn't have all that many actual references to the novel, so I won't go into a lot of detail, since it would be a bit unnecessary to just spill the whole novel right now.

However, if you want to read Journey to the West in English(and you should), pick up The Journey to the West, by Anthony Yu.