Review: El Shaddai: Ascension Of The Metatron
El Shaddai is a culmination of good game design, good gameplay and vivid artistic direction separating El Shaddai from other action titles. With slick combat, gorgeous character designs and environments El Shaddai performs exceptionally well.
- Worth The Time?Yes, of course it is.
- Things LovedI loved the character design, environment, the setting and atmosphere of the game. The combat and platforming elements melded together cohesively, and were brilliant throughout.
- Things HatedNothing really irked me about El Shaddai, besides a few texture issues here and there, not like RAGE mind you. The only real limitation of the game is the short running span of the title.
- RecommendationIf you enjoyed Devil May Cry, Okami and Shadow of the Collosus this is is for you.
- Name: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
- Genre: 3rd Person Action, Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Ignition Tokyo
- Publisher: Ignition entertainment
- Price: R 542.95
- Reviewed On: PS3
Rarely does a game merge action oriented game design with the utter befuddlement of a bible story. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron fulfils this brief to the tee. The developers at Ignition Tokyo took the biblical triumph of Enoch, and with a culminated effort, transcended into a heavenly balance of Devil May Cry combo slashing galore tinged with unusual Japanese storytelling. All of this is paired down by a visually abstract approach which differentiates El Shaddai from the host of generic titles out at the moment.
The game charts the journey of Enoch (a devout priest) to claim victory over an army of fallen angels each falling prey to the seven deadly sins, in one way or another. The terms of your quest mean that Enoch is bestowed with the dangerous mission of having to seal away seven of the sin-bearing fallen angels by command of God (who communicates with your angelic guardian Lucifel clad in black, via a cellphone). In turn, Enoch has to traverse a tower with seven different levels each pertaining to one of the seven fallen angels, and their associated minions. Things get biblical from then on out and each level of the tower becomes progressively more difficult and challenging.
It’s your godly-appointed duty to overcome the unholy obstacles set before you through a maze of side-scrolling platform sections (like Castelvania and Metroid), intermixed with third-person combat (similar to Devil May Cry, Bayonetta and God of War) and a diverse sequence of puzzle challenges incorporated into third-person and side-scrolling sections of the game. All of which, are challenging and unique meaning that the gameplay experience isn’t only one track and that El Shaddai may require a couple of playthroughs to get the most out of the game, and with challenging bosses and enemies El Shaddai is not a game to be scoffed at. Yet by no means is it of the level of Dark Souls. However, in order to become proficient in combat well-timed responses and knowledge of the different weapons will help when moving from encounter to encounter. This is because the game varies its combat vastly. How so you may ask?
Intentionally, El Shaddai has a simplified button scheme that makes learning the ropes efficiently easier with the game providing tutorials and hints prior to upcoming battles, as well as in the middle of a challenging rumble. Combat is at the centre of El Shaddai’s design and is well executed. The combat system is simple yet complex with one button designated to attacks, another to jumping, one to guarding and finally a button can be used for purfication. The complexity is subtly showcased through the inclusion of the trigger buttons, with one trigger allowing Enoch to purify enemies and the other trigger resulting in the initiation of special attacks, and guarding from enemy attacks. Purification is an interesting tactic that is made available to you after beating an enemy to a pulp; where you have a moment to snatch away an enemy’s weapon and purify it into a holy weapon. Purification can also be initiated by bashing the purification button when necessary.
All the weapons available to you battle are only a snatch away, and un-purified weapons equipped by the mass armies of the fallen angels are easily noticeable with their glowing red auras indicating that they are corrupted, and not purified. After a weapon has been purified by Enoch it transitions into a white glow which increases the potency of your attacks, and when strung together with well timed combos the amount of juggling you can achieve is insane. The combo system in El Shaddai is an eloquent sight to behold and with a great sense of finesse brings to the fore the effortlessness and ease in using the combat mechanics. At first, they appear simple. But with time, and obtaining a variety of weapons, battling becomes a whole different beast.
There are three primary weapons in El Shaddai. The first is the Arch which is a curved blade resembling an elongated scimitar blended with a scythe. The weapon is excellent for slashing enemies and untoward bosses. The weapon endows Enoch with the ability to float in the air for brief periods of time when double jumping. The second weapon bestowed upon Enoch is the Gale a ring-like weapon that shoots quick-shot projectiles rapidly at enemies. The third weapon is called the Veil and is a shield-like weapon that can transform into a pair of gauntlets offering strong offensive and defensive power.
Comparatively the Gale is much faster than the other two weapons, but a weapon like the Veil is stronger oppositional to enemies who may require brute force to take out. On the other hand, the Arch gives greater dexterity in breaching through enemy defences and bringing combat into the realm of air slashing and juggling. Each weapon has specific benefits and changing your weaponry depends on the context of the battle and the number of enemies. In some instances, when overwhelmed by enemies as the sheer number of their hordes increases Enoch can summon Uriel, an archangel, to help him out by commencing Overboost mode in the heat of battle.
This mode is achieved by collecting red energy from fallen enemies and increases the damage inflicted by Enoch’s attacks, and equips him with a unique angelic attack. This is particularly helpful when trying to take down a nasty boss with a huge health meter. Maintaining combo chains will further power this mode and can increase the amounts of damage you inflict. With the variety of weapons combos never truly dull from repetition as specials and angelic attacks livens things up quite a bit. Also, you can’t assume the role of an all-out tank because Enoch is susceptible to enemy attacks destroying his armour (which can be repaired by collecting white heart power-ups) and a good defence is as necessary as a good offense.
El Shaddai is not just about battling. The combat is broken up by well conceived platforming sequences that are stylistically different with unique challenges. The artistry of the level design affects the gameplay experience with a variety of environmental changes and effects which alter the flow of the game. For example, in one level you have to manipulate Enoch along gusts of wind whilst jumping from platform to platform in an effort to not fall to your death. The constant stylistic challenges give El Shaddai gameplay diversity.
Visually, the game is vibrant and is far removed from its biblical origins with unique attention to character and level design. The atmosphere of the game is influenced by the abstract choice of the colour palette. As a result, the game is surreal in its playability with expansive vistas seemingly crafted from an artist’s paint brush. With stylistic changes throughout El Shaddai it truly deserves more attention in the market.
The artistic direction and amazingly executed gameplay make El Shaddai a noteworthy example of good game design choices. The game is supported by an amazing score and impeccable sound design, with many of the voices behind the characters fitting their roles well. Overall the game exudes quality in all of its elements. With slick combat, a deep storyline and interesting characters El Shaddai is a well crafted game.