Friday, March 1, 2013

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

When Angels fall and claim godhood, the real God tends to be none too pleased.


Story

The story of El Shaddai is (loosely) based off of a religious text 'The Book of Enoch' and follows Enoch, a heavenly scribe chosen by God, to find and return 7 fallen angels to heaven, the game explains this over a series of small cutscenes and novel-esque pieces. These fallen Angels have taken shelter on Earth, creating a veil, or false sky, to hide from God, the humans who once prayed to God saw they Angels as gods as well and began praying to them, eventually forgetting their true God. Since these people are praying to these false gods who have been corrupted by 'The Darkness', they do not ascend to Heaven when they die and instead become creatures of darkness themselves.


Graphics

If you ask anyone what stands out the most in El Shaddai, they'll say one of two things, the anime-like art style, or the remarkably amazing visuals (hopefully the latter). El Shaddai makes up for the lack of story with graphics that will leave you mesmerized, the coloring and lighting are done EXTREMELY well and make everything pop. The changing color scheme, which happens often, makes things come alive to a leel I have never honestly seen in gaming.

A rather dull picture, it doesn't do the game any justice,
but gives you an idea of what the game is like
Normally, graphics are nothing special and remain unchanged from one game to another or differ slightly, in El Shaddai they are breathtaking and stunning, while they aren't realistic, they are some of the best (if not the best) artistic graphics I've ever seen.


Controls

The controls are rather simple to grasp, but can be tough to master. You have your standard jump, attack and guard buttons (A, X/Y and RB respectively), as well as a purification button (LB) which allows you to purify, or clean, your weapons as they get 'dirty' from attacking enemies. While they are rather basic, the timing is critical, a block at the right moment can send the enemy reeling, allowing for Enoch to follow up with a series of blows, attacking at the right moment has the same effect.

I mentioned Purification  you must purify your weapon regularly as it builds up darkness gained from enemies, if you don't purify, your weapon will inflict less damage and have a reduced chance of staggering the enemy, so you should really purify after every battle.


Music/Sound/Voice

There is little music generally, it is rather quite and almost harmonic with everything else that is going on in game, you can hear it but it will not stand out on most occasions. Somehow, this works well with the games settings, so I personally didn't mind the ambiance it brought.

Sound is done much tot he same effect, you'll hear somethings on some levels and nothing on others, these can be as simple wind blowing or fireworks going off, small things that add to the games ambiance.

Voicing is done very well for an anime styled game, which are usually quite over-dramatic, granted there's very little talking outside of confrontation or narration, but what little there is is done quite nicely.


Other

One of the negatives, or positives, depending on how you look at it,  is the fact that there are only 3 weapons in the game, the Arch, the Gale and the Veil (you can also use your fists, so technically 4). Each has their pros and cons, they are sort of like rock-paper-scissors, one beats the other which loses to a different one.

The Arch
The Arch - A bow like weapon that is really a sword, the bow stings are sharp blades. The Arch is an all-around average weapon, average strength, speed and recoil.(strong against the Veil, weak against the Gale)

The Gale
The Gale - A series of shard like crystals that can be hurled at enemies and easily linked together. The Gale is very fast but also very weak and causes little recoil. (strong against the Arch, weak against the Veil)

The Veil
The Veil - A giant shield, broken in half allowing Enoch to easily wield it. The Veil has the best physical and defensive capabilities, causing recoil at a high rate, it is very slow however. (strong against the Gale, weak against the Arch)

Once you've beaten the game, you can play through it again with extras such as outfits, higher difficulties and you are also graded in each level.


Overall

El Shaddai is a rather unique game for both it's reference to real religious texts and for its amazing art, any fan of action/hack and slash titles should check this out.

8.5/10.0

Pros

- STUNNING visuals
- Simple, yet complex combat
- Interesting real life reference

Cons

- Limited weapons
- After you've mastered combat it's very easy
- Story takes awhile to take off