Games 2011: El Shaddai – Ascension of The Metatron

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A religious tale told using varying art styles perspectives, and gameplay mechanics, El Shaddai is a dark horse to check out. The narrative itself is broadly drawn from the Book of Enoch, which accounts the scribe’s exploits as he interacts with seven fallen angels.

Ignition’s rendition of the text begins with God nominating a group of angels as wardens of the world. Dubbed the Grigori, their keen observation of Earth results in a fascination with humankind, and finally they defect to live amidst and dominate the masses. To forbid such divine impact over mortals, God decides to flood the world, only stopping when the strong-willed human scribe named Enoch objects.

Postponing his apocalyptic penalty, God grants Enoch an opportunity to capture the angels and save the world. Commissioned as a protector, the darkly clad archangel Lucifel joins Enoch, having taken a liking to the selfless if a bit overconfident protagonist.

Tossing scriptural truth aside, Ignition is bringing drastic liberties with the presentation. Golden-locked Enoch is clothed with heavenly armor that shatters as he takes damage (acting as a replacement for a standard health bar) exposing what appears to be designer denim underneath. Lucifel is as stylish having his black ensemble, accessorizing with a cellular phone he uses to have contact with Enoch.

Gameplay opens through a blend of third-person action and side-scrolling platforming, having combat broken into two clear-cut stages. Enoch sets out his journey unarmed, but could rob foes of their arms through fluid melee attacks. Once in his ownership, weapons must be made pure using a power gifted to Enoch by God. The default weapon in El Shaddai seems to be the Arch, a stolen relic from heaven by the disloyal angels and clouded by their betrayal. The blade needs to be cleansed in order for Enoch to return souls to heaven above.

Ignition is assuring multiple weapon types, all of which should be won by battle and refilled as they assume damage. Enoch’s attacks range from heavy and light, and can be altered to cover aerial and timed varients. Increasingly intense combos demand a level of skill targeted to appeal to more seasoned gamers.

Above all, the art direction is where El Shaddai gleams. Sometimes characters appear cel-shaded, and at others more in the likes of a watercolor painting. The development team at Ignition features Takeyasu Sawaki at the helm, famous for his work at Capcom on Devil May Cry and Okami.

The setting exhibits skyscapes having marbled veins of color. We’ve watched Enoch traverse unrolling clouds, the light transitioning from day to night to something else altogether. Enoch then turns silhouetted against a vibrant stained-glass window prior to returning to a snowy vista having swans flying through iridescent skies. These fields are all forged after the angels who possess them, assuring several genuine environments. The world of El Shaddai can only be characterized as transient at best.

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