All you need to smite evil in God’s name is a sword, a shield, a cellphone… and jeans that hug your love handles.
I’ve heard a few things about El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron over the last several months: that it’s loosely based on The Book of Wanderers; that the hero is smiting foes in God’s name while sporting a pair of Edwin jeans; that it’s colourful and would blow my mind. For whatever reason, whenever I hear the words “video games” and “Biblical text” in the same sentence, I can’t help but think of those old Wisdom Tree games based on the Bible. Oy!
Nonetheless, the fact that Ignition Entertainment decided to use a chapter from a Biblical Apocrypha as the basis for a game intrigued me (I used to read about Biblical lore during college for the heck of it). When I finally played the demo, I got excited. Very much so. Oh yes indeedy.
As Enoch, a scribe of Heaven with a sense of style, you are tasked with capturing the Grigori, a group of angels who became obsessed with us lowly humans and our qwarky way of life.
After starting up the demo, the first thing that jumps out at you is the art: it’s purdy. Game Director Sawaki Takeyasu was the Art Director for Okami and Devil May Cry, and it shows. The visuals oozes style, like a graceful watercolour painting dancing on screen. If you could put it in a frame and hang it in a museum, you would (then again, for you fancy pants out there who have their TV hanging on the wall, then you have won the battle already).
Combat is not complicated: no long list of combos to memorise or button presses that require double-jointed thumbs to pull off. Just an attack button, jump button and block. When you start off, you’ll be facing the baddies using your fists. As enemies become weak, you can steal their weapons and use them, leaving them defenceless. I fiddled with the sword and projectile weapons; I didn’t try the third (a wicked pair of knuckles). You can launch enemies into the air with a special attack, but regardless of whether you take the sky to smack them around or stay on the ground to punish them, you still feel like a total badass.
You’ll notice that there’s no HUD to show how much health you have (all the better to show the prettiness of the scenery). Instead, you can tell how you’re doing from the state of your armour. The more damage you take, the more pieces of armor you lose. Your enemies also use this health mechanic. If you happen to eat dirt, you can get back up (with full health, to boot!) by mashing the buttons as quickly as possible.
There are platforming bits, some are overhead, others the more traditional 2D style. Because of the positioning of the static camera, the overhead jumps can be a bit tricky, but becomes easier once you get used to it (when in doubt, checking your shadow and performing a double jump are your friends).
As with all good demos, El Shaddai has given me a taste of things to come and has left me wanting more. I have a feeling that it’ll deliver a satisfying experience right out the gate, but we must wait for the retail version to come out before passing final judgment. I’ve pre-ordered my copy, so I’ll give you my final thoughts then.
Look for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron on store shelves August 16th for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The demo is available now on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.
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Have you tried the demo? What do you think? Are you planning on getting the game Day 1 or wait for the reviews to come in? Tell me about it in the Comments Section!
P.S. You know who else wears Edwin jeans? My Twitter Feed. It’s true *nods* :3
P.P.S. My RSS Feed is a powerful tool against rogue angels. It bops them over the head with an inflatable mallet. That’ll learn ’em!