by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on PS3
It's a beautiful day for slaughter (cont.)
Graphically, El Shaddai has a very unique visual style, reminiscent of Anime. It masters the art of looking beautiful in an unconventional way -none of these shades of dark, bland colours that are used in the various shooters that our industry churns out. The game is really visually appealing from a personal standpoint, but some may not appreciate it. There are so many unique environments and areas that make every single step you take in El Shaddai a pleasure to experience. Going into the Darkness is literally a jaw-dropping experience. Truly beautiful.
El Shaddai is no slouch in the audio department either, possessing an enchanting orchestral score, as often seen in Japanese-made games of this calibre. Add to this great voice acting, with the likes of Jason Isaacs (perhaps best known as Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter or Admiral Zhao from Avatar: The Last Airbender), who voices your companion Lucifel, and El Shaddai doesn't have any problems in its presentation.
There are, however, a handful of grievances that stop me from awarding this game the highest score possible, such as the lack of customisable weapons or abilities. This lack of customization might annoy some people, but doesn't detract from the simplistic but enjoyable experience. Add to this an annoying button-mashing death screen, which just seems out of place, and things start to get irritating when you're down and don't manage to button-mash in time, forcing you to restart from a checkpoint. El Shaddai also suffers from often imprecise platforming. If, for example, you're trying to jump between platforms in the 3D mode, it'll often be incredibly difficult to judge where exactly Enoch will land. This causes plenty of deaths. Now, these are just a few minor problems, but they all highlight the fact that the only thing stopping El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron from being a landmark title is the actual mechanics of the game. This problem naturally inhibits the game's replayability, as after one playthrough, you'll be unlikely to pick it up again in a hurry.
El Shaddai: The Ascension of the Medium
Despite being made by a team of multi-cultural multi-belief developers, there will undoubtedly be some people out there screaming 'BLASPHEMMMYYYY' at the top of their lungs when encountered with a game that interprets the holy book of a particular religion in a different way to their own. Is that such a problem? Video games are exactly the medium to do this in, to emphasize different interpretations of the same thing. To draw a direct comparison to something that isn't so spiritually revered would be insulting, but everything from football to driving is interpreted differently from the same core principles. Why shouldn't a religious text be given the same freedom of interpretation?
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a testament to the strength of video games as a medium, as well as the skill of Ignition Tokyo, that it can take a source that is often a rigidly interpreted format and create such an enjoyable and enthralling game. To achieve all of that, without being offensive or demeaning the source, whilst simultaneously avoiding preaching it to the player, is brilliant. Of course a game won't sell, or be enjoyed, on such principles, but the fact that it's an intricate hack-n-slash adventure full of charm and possessing a presentation style that is so unique means that El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a milestone in the history of video games, carrying you through the game even when the mechanics start to lag behind towards the end.
A unique experience, fantastic visuals, deep engaging story.
Game mechanics too simplistic by today\'s standards. Very little replayability. 3D platforming irritating.