On the 7th day, God played El Shaddai for 24 hours. And lo, it was full of awesome sauce.
What happens when you combine action, platforming, a story based on a Biblical text, and Edwin Jeans? Why, you get the stylish action game, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Genre: Action, Platformer
Developer/ Publisher: UTV Ignition Games
Platform: PlayStation 3; Xbox 360
Release Date: August 12, 2011
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (13 & up)
Reason for Rating: Animated Blood; Fantasy Violence; Mild Suggestive Themes
Okay, so I gushed about this quite a bit in the preview, and on my Twitter Feed. I’ve played through it, took a break, and played through it some more. I think I got it out of my system enough for me to sit down and write the review. The team behind this masterpiece was led by Sawaki Takeyasu, the man who brought us Devil May Cry and Okami. And it shows. This game screams, “STYLE, BABY!”
The Lord Sayeth: Tell Me A Story
The story’s loosely based on “The Book of Wanderers”, the first chapter from The Book of Enoch, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A really long time ago, God charged these angels known as the Grigori (or Watchers) to watch over mankind. Now the Grigori loved the humans… and I mean, really loved them. So much so that they decided to ditch Heaven and go down to Earth to live amongst them. They built a huge tower in which to live, passed on some advanced knowledge to humans and even started to mate with humans, giving birth to creatures called Nephilim. God isn’t digging all this craziness, and the Heavenly Council decides that the only way to put a stop to it is to flood the Earth and start from scratch.
Enter Enoch, the hero of the story. Enoch was such a righteous dude that God brought him up to Heaven while he was still alive to act as a scribe. Enoch asked the Council to spare mankind. God said “Okay, but only if you bring back those descenters.” (… He didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get the gist). Enoch isn’t doing this alone, of course. He’s guided by Lucifel, God’s right-hand man… er, angel who will save your progress. Also along for the ride is the leader of the archangels, Michael, Gabriel (who’ll give you tips on how to proceed), Raphael (who’ll tell you how to use items as you come across them for the first time), and Uriel (who’ll turn you into the Incredible Hulk — but more on that later).
Before I go on, I must applaud the devs on taking reference material that’s underutilized and doing something creative with it. I know not everyone will dig it because it’s Biblical text and there are people who are real sensitive about how the sacred text should be handled. But the devs took the material, did their own interpretation of it and did so with class. So kudos to them.
God Gave You Beauty And Rockin’ Tunes
Let’s get this out of the way, yea? This game is gorgeous. The backgrounds look like they were done with watercolours and pastels. There’s some brilliant use of colours, light and shadow… it’s just so stylish. The animation for the characters are fluid and graceful. The game really is just one huge painting come to life.
Something else that’s greatly appreciated is that the stages are never the same. Each floor of the tower is like its own self-contained eco-system. One stage will have you traversing through some crumbly, fiery pit that reminds you of hell, the next will have you jumping on teeter-totters manned by the Nephilim (I kid you not), the next you’re in… Tron? Yea, Tron. It’s like something you’d experience if you were on some trippy cough syrup haze; it’s totally out there and totally cool.
As for the character designs, I think they’re great. I want to cuddle the Nephilim and Enoch needs to be my Man Servant. I love Lucifel’s sense of style, and the fact that both he and Enoch are sporting Edwin Jeans. I’m not kidding. Fighting evil in simple robes just isn’t enough; smite the sinners in style, I say. STYLE! The enemies range from humanoid-looking guys to giant hulks with dental problems to freaky-looking Gumby wannabes who do the Arsenio Hall fist pump in the air when they stand still. You know, the usual riff-raff.
As for the music, it, too, is wonderful. From the sweeping orchestral genius that plays in the first stage, to the whimsical, cutesy tune of the Nephilim’s home, the soundtrack is just as varied as the stages and really sets the mood for exploration or ass-kicking. Speaking of which…
God Has Blessed Thee With Flexibility And Killer Moves
For someone who writes a bajillion scrolls and tomes, Enoch sure has some moves! Not that I’m complaining, mind you 😉
*Ahem* So anyway, our boy can fend for himself by punching, jumping, and blocking. Simple, yea? Well, that’s one of the things I love about the combat system: there’s no need for double-jointed thumbs to pull off combos. You have one attack button, one block button, and one jump button. That’s it! YAYS! Tapping the Attack button allows you to put a combo together, however enemies will become wise and start to block. In that case, if you press Attack with a slight delay in timing, you’ll do a Guard Break and will keep pummeling them. Holding the Attack button down and allowing yourself to be hit will unleash a Counter-Attack.
You can’t beat your enemies with just your fists, and that’s where the Weapons System comes into play. There are three weapons that you can acquire during your travels: An Arch (sword-type), Gale (projectiles) and Veil (Knuckles). You probably already guessed, but there’s a Rock-Paper-Scissors system in place (Arch beats Gale; Gale beats Veil; Veil beats Arch). Learning to switch it up is key to getting far.
Bosses are also weak to certain weapons, but you don’t have to worry so much with trying to guess which one to use, as an item usually appears during your fighter that, once collected, will tell you if the weapon you’re using is the same strength, weak against them or strong.
The system is pretty solid. Oh! And here’s the best part. If you happen to eat dirt, you go into this Quick Time Event where you mash on any button before your eyes close. If you’re successful, then you get back up with a good chunk of your health back. But be warned, each time you go into the QTE, it gets harder to complete.
Now unto Uriel. Yes, he is the Incredible Hulk. At some point in the game, you’ll unlock Boost. When you activate it, you’ll get a boost in strength and Uriel will occasionally come out and finish up combos for you, adding some much needed extra hurt. You can also unleash a Special Attack that will end your Boost Mode early, but cause massive damage. You might have noticed these glowing red orbs that pop up sometimes when you fight enemies or break something in the decor. Those orbs will help you level up your Boost Meter (the higher the level, the longer your Boost lasts).
As for outside combat, the game has quite a lot of platforming… and I suppose now’s a good time as any to bring up my gripes with the game.
First off, the camera. It’s fixed and usually position behind you, overhead and to the side. When you enter combat, it’s still behind you, but it’s closer to ground level. The problem comes when you’re sandwiched between two enemies and the second one is somewhere behind you. You can only see it if you run around and position yourself behind it. It does tend to get annoying and I wish you could use the Right Analog Stick to move the camera.
This leads me to my biggest gripe about this otherwise solid game. The platforming. Sweet jumping jolly green giant, it’s sooooo hard!
Where do I begin? There’s two types of platforming. There’s a 2D-style platforming, which is totally fine. But then there’s the 3D-style. Remember that fixed camera? It WILL come back to haunt you. Holding down the Jump button allows Enoch to jump farther, while tapping the Jump button twice will let you double jump. Now combine the types of jumps with the fixed camera and add tiny platforms to the mix. There were times I wanted to eat my controller out of spite. For reals. You’ll usually end up a) under jumping in your attempt to not miss the platform or b) overshoot your jump thinking that you might miss the platform. It’s so frustrating. However, every time you fall into the abyss below you start right back on the ledge you fell off, so that’s good, at least.
God Commands Thee To Play It Again
Once you’ve played through the game once on either easy or normal, a bunch of options open up. First of all, you’ll unlock the hard and extra modes, and yes, there is a real progression in difficulty. Once you finish a stage, you’ll actually been given a score and letter grade based on how well you did (how fast you went through, how many times you were K.O.’ed, etc.), and the results are posted online so you can see how you compare to your friends or the rest of the world.
In addition, there’s a stage select, so you can do whatever stage you want. And of course, there are the Trophies/Achievements to get if you’re into that.
And Lo, This Game Kicks Much Ass
I really hadn’t been this excited about a game in a really long time. Even all these months later, I still get happy tingles thinking about it. This is a fabulous game; a visual and auditory feast that’s fun to play. More people need to play it. If you haven’t already play it, please do so. You’ll enjoy it. Girl Guides’ Honour.
*This game was played on the PlayStation 3 Version.
Final Score: 9/10
No Problem. Everything’s Fine.
- + The graphics are soooo beautiful
- + The music is sooooo wonderful!
- + The combat system easy to get into
- + Level design is interesting and trippy
The armour okay? No.
- – Platforming is way to hard
- – Static camera can make things difficult for you in combat and platforming
Get El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, or Play-Asia today!:
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Have you played El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron? Let me know what you think in the Comments Section!