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El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

For some reason the Judo Christian written tradition is a subject that has remained almost untouched by the gaming industry.

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Even if the Japanese certainly have seemed interested in its symbolic nature (Neon Genesis Evangelion, anyone?). It's instead dealt with Japanese, Norse and Greek mythology ad nauseam. Therefore, it is with a certain amount of curiosity with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, a game lead by designer of Okami and Devil May Cry fame, and based on the first part of the Book of Enoch.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The biblical character Enoch is the great-grandfather of the better-known Noah (the one with the ark) and is only mentioned twice in the Bible,
where he was said to have been taken up by God. Yet The Book of Enoch itself is part of the Ethiopian bible and it makes Enoch a central character in both world history and in the dealings between humans, gods and angels.

At one point in history a group of two hundred angels were so fascinated with humanity that they descended from the skies and turned themselves into gods. Enoch, who ascended to heaven to become God's personal scribe, was instructed to seek out the fallen angels and defeat them in order to imprison their souls for eternity. With the help of then-angel Lucifel, and the archangels Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Michael, Enoch goes out on a century-long journey, and the stage is set for the world's first ever action hero.

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El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

If you think that El Shaddai is shock full of angel choirs, long white beards and the likes you are very wrong. The game breaks with most of the post-renaissance imagery we associate with the biblical tradition. Enoch, is a blonde young man dressed in tight jeans, while Lucifel could have been mistaken for walking in Shibuya with his trendy black outfit and cell phone with which he keeps in touch with God.

El Shaddai first and foremost aims to be a visually and aesthetically different experience, and it accomplishes this well enough. The visuals are just as unique as in a game like Okami, and can be likened to Studio Ghibli-inspired watercolour drawings in motion. As was the case with Okami, the visuals don't really come across in still imagery - you need to see the game in action to fully appreciate it.

As far as the gaming goes El Shaddai is made up of two components - platforming and hack n' slash. The tower built by the fallen angels must be conquered, both in 2D and 3D. And while many of the areas are strikingly beautiful, the come across as barren in terms of content and challenges. Far too many of the platform sections simply sees you jump and run from one end to the other, with the occasional enemy or obstacle to overcome. It can hardly be considered a compliment that we've played platform titles aimed at young kids that are more entertaining as far as platforming goes. Thankfully, there are exception from the rule, such as a motorcycle sequence that makes corresponding scenes in Tron: Legacy and Final Fantasy VII pale in comparison.

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El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The game is by large salvaged by the major combat scenes, that at times reaches the same spectacular levels as the Devil May Cry series. Three different weapons create variation and dynamic play, and along the way you will unlock special attacks of cosmic dimensions. El Shaddai also offers up a combat system that is easy to grasp, but difficult to master. Ignition have managed to create a lot out of very little here.

But even the larger battles get repetitive with time, and the shortcomings of El Shaddai become increasingly apparent as you progress.

The story telling is cluttered and hard to absorb. There isn't enough variation when it comes to enemies and not enough of a challenge. When you realise this, it helps little that you can choose to play the game with the Japanese voices or that the music at times is very inspired. You sit there with the feeling that El Shaddai could very well have been an indie title launched at a third of the price.

While El Shaddai is far from a poor game, it is mainly aimed at gamers with a taste for new stories and unique aesthetics. The rest of us might as well wait for the inevitable price drop.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
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06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
+
Beautiful graphics and design, accessible game mechanics, nice to see someone try to tell unusual stories in a game, option to choose Japanese voices.
-
All too many boring sections, far between the memorable moments, the game struggles with story telling, short and easy, comes across as an indie title at times.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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