El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron – Review
Follow Genre: Action-Adventure, Hack and Slash
Developer: Sawaki Takeyasu, UTV Ignition Games, Ignition Tokyo, Crim Inc.
Publisher: UTV Ignition Games, Crim Inc.
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Tested on: PC

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron – Review

Site Score
5.9
Good: An experimental, artsy game with great environments
Bad: Especially the first few hours this is boring hack and slash, the console to PC port is done carelessly
User Score
3.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.0/10 (1 vote cast)

What? A review for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron? Isn’t this a game that already saw the sweet light of release in 2011? Yes, you are correct. This is the first time, however, that it’s also playable on PC. Now, before we get into this game, we should warn you that this game is basically a direct port. This means it’s not even playable without a controller for some reason. This feels simply lazy, and the fact the game seems so carelessly ported definitely influenced the final judgment. That being said, let’s see what El Shaddai still has to offer 10 years after its original release.

Story

El Shaddai is the name of one of the Gods of Israel, which translated to English means something like “God Almighty”. El Shaddai: Ascension of the MetatronĀ has a story that is taking bits and pieces of the real-life Hebrew religious Book of Enoch, which explains the title a bit better. In the game, we also follow Enoch, a scribe for the heavens. He is tasked with finding (and defeating) seven fallen angels, and he is accompanied in his quest by Lucifel, one of the archangels. These bits of the story are combined with vague Japanese storytelling we previously saw in games such as Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, making El Shaddai somewhat messy as a game.

While Japanese storytelling can be great when directed in the right way, El Shaddai‘s storytelling is even hazier than the other named titles. As a whole, the plot feels very convoluted, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Kingdom Hearts series. Also, the story does get even more complex due to the addition of Lucifel, who is a creature living outside of time with the ability to manipulate time itself. El Shaddai could have done with a better story that’s clear in setting goals and guiding Enoch to something, but instead lacks a lot of character motivation or development. As a replacement, it’s coming up with biblical language and explanations.

Graphics

One of the reasons El Shaddai: Ascension of the MetatronĀ originally reached its cult status is because of the graphics. While the characters and enemies are (sometimes rather abstract) 3D models with facial expressions and human features, the environments are really rather dreamy. It feels like this is a game that got a green card for the art division, just sprouting metaphors and trippy visuals everywhere. Paint-like heavenly mountains and lakes, neon-like structures influenced by African masks, there’s a lot to be found in El Shaddai. This is one of the best reasons to play the game till the end, to see the abstract surroundings that redefine what a game level should look like.

Sound

While El Shaddai might look and feel like a fever dream most of the time, the cinematic sound design brings it closer to a movie of sorts. There are proper orchestral tunes accompanying you on your journey, and added to that are typical hacking, slashing, and shooting sounds. This all works quite well, were it not for the overall experience that’s somewhat lacking. It’s nice that there are multiple languages included as well. The voice acting includes a couple of languages, including Japanese and English.

Gameplay

El Shaddai‘s storytelling has a lot in common with franchises such as Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, and even the gameplay portions of these titles have overlapping elements. There’s some platforming adventuring going on, but also a lot of hack and slash. Where Devil May Cry has a rather tricky combat system implemented, El Shaddai is a lot more shallow. Especially at the start of the game, it just feels like you’re mashing buttons and nothing else. Over time you get new weapons, but aside from some boss battles, it doesn’t feel like it’s changing too much. Just like its graphical design, El Shaddai tries to create original components for its gameplay. The game experiments with original mechanics, such as a health system that gives visual feedback by slowly whittling away pieces of your armor the closer you are to dying. These experiments, however, do not contribute to the enjoyment of the game at all. Especially with a lack of challenges in combat that actually feel fun, the game mostly fails in its gameplay department.

You can, however, experiment with loads of combinations of buttons. Even the timing in the second, third, and fourth hit with the same button can make a difference in Enoch’s attacking pattern. It does not change that the game still feels a lot like a simple hack and slash game, but it’s a nice system nonetheless. On top of these things, the game allows you to i.e. steal an opponent’s weapon, or purify (buff) your own weapon; if you hit a lot of enemies and your weapon becomes tainted (debuffed). The amount of weapons in the game is very limited though, and each time you do something like this, you need to watch a short in-game cutscene. The latter becomes very tedious in combination with the fairly repetitive button-bashing gameplay.

Conclusion

El Shaddai: Ascension of the MetatronĀ feels like an old game. Not only is this a direct port from old consoles, but the storytelling and gameplay also feel dated. The only thing that makes El Shaddai truly worth a playthrough is the artistic side of this game, which is comparable to a fever dream. The original, sometimes paint-like environments are truly something to behold. Too bad the gameplay itself is found very bland, as this truly detracts from the fun to be had.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron - Review, 3.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Icecreamvamp


I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for 3rd-strike.com since 2017.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.