Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review-El Shaddai:Ascension of the Metatron

More often than not a gamer has bought a game based on the amazing looking cut-scenes shown in the advertisements that accompany new releases, only to find the in-game graphics and gameplay little to be desired. The problem is also that new games that come without the fanfare, bells and whistles are sometimes overlooked – and this can be a great shame, particularly if that game you miss is El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.

Of course, you would be forgiven for not having seen it; even when I was initially given El Shaddai, developed by Ignition Entertainment, to review I was a little confused as to what sort of game it was – and in some ways I still am. All I know is that until El Shaddai I hadn’t been enchanted by a game for a long time.

Although it encapsulates a mix of gameplays, at the bare bones El Shaddai is a third-person platformer. The main character is Enoch, a human who initially worked as a scribe for the council of elders in Heaven, now chosen to save humanity. His mission is to capture a group of renegade fallen angels, called the Grigori, in God's last attempt before he forms a great flood to destroy the earth and everyone in it.

As random and bonkers the storyline is, its one of the most beautiful games I have played this year.

The landscapes in the game are truly stunning, each level changes seamlessly with the well choreographed music and you’re taken through colourful and psychedelic levels which you can’t help but appreciate and get lost in.

The thought put into the levels is very refreshing to what you get from most platformers available at the moment as you guide Enoch through ever-morphing worlds from neon platforms to misty caverns. The game’s development was led by Takeyasu Sawaki, who was a character designer in both Devil May Cry and Okami. To those who have played these games, it gives some idea how well crafted El Shaddai is.

El Shaddai also surprises with its change in gameplay. The majority of the game is a third-person hack’n’slasher, but throughout the game you divert to a side scrolling platformer and at one stage you even play through a high-octane bike chase and I found myself genuinely interested in what would happen next.

Within the game you have three holy weapons to choose from (apart from your fists): an arch, veil, and gale, with which the player can perform combos with the rhythmic use of one button.
The arch is a curved blade which can be used as a fast melee weapon that also allows you to float for short periods; the veil is a shield as well as a pair of gauntlets; while the gale is a weapon which fires small diamond-shaped darts and provides quick dash ability.

Every weapon has strengths and weaknesses, and selecting the right weapon in certain fights and areas you traverse is crucial. You are also able to disarm other enemies and use their weapon against them, which adds depth to combat. In addition, during battles, your weapons become corrupt and weaken and must be purified. This can be easily achieved with a press of a button but timing is important when fighting as you become vulnerable for a brief period of time, which does mean you put thought into how to approach a fight.

Another nice touch is that throughout the game you have a friend in the way of Lucifel, a mobile phone carrying archangel who acts as a save point and offers advice and encouraging words along the way.

If I have one negative thing to say about the game is that it is too easy and will only take you around 10 hours to complete. It is also almost impossible to die and the religious/mystical monsters bosses you face do become repetitive.

However these are small niggles to the enriching and unique experience El Shaddai provides. If you’re someone who likes having a selection of games then this is a must for your collection. But if you are someone just plays games for the moment then at least rent this game and see the magic for yourself.