Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is the action-oriented adventure of two fugitives, Monkey and Trip, who must work together to survive, in spite of significant antagonism between them. The game features flowing combat against an array of mechanically enhanced enemies, as well as 3D environmental platform puzzles, some meant to be solved by two characters in tandem. The game's story is set a century and a half in the future, in the aftermath of a global war that destroyed most of modern civilization across the planet Earth. Although based in futuristic science fiction, the game plays out in natural, forest settings, where advanced technology is viewed as magic by most surviving humans. Monkey's physical strength and great agility allow him to move through aging structures and tall treetops with ease, for advantages in reconnaissance and attacks from above. Trip does not fight, but she has an electromagnetic pulse generator that can temporarily stun their mechanical would-be captors, and she can distract enemies while Monkey positions himself for a surprise attack.
Players begin in the role of Monkey, a physically powerful man who has spent his recent years alone and on the run, from deadly robots left over from the war and still programmed to capture human beings for eradication. Eventually, however, Monkey is caught and interred on an airship, full of other human captives. Working together with Trip, a technologically adept woman he meets on the ship, Monkey escapes, but is knocked unconscious soon after. When he reawakens, he finds that he has been fitted with a modified captive control device, placed on his head. The device ties Monkey to Trip, such that if she dies, so will he. It also allows Trip to threaten Monkey's life if he does not follow her commands. The two embark on a shared journey to deliver Trip to the safety of her homeland, upon which she has promised to set Monkey free. The game's story is loosely inspired by the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, sharing the adventuresome plot elements of a small party that must rise above adversarial tendencies to work together in travels through unknown territories, as well as the name of the main character, Monkey.