Author Topic: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron HD Remaster (Switch) Review Mini  (Read 1045 times)

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Offline John Rairdin

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Put on your angel hunting jeans Enoch!

Originally released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2011, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a visually bold and narratively confusing third person action game that manages to remain compelling more than a decade later. The game is very loosely based on The Book of Enoch, a non-canon book in both Jewish and Christian scripture. Like that book it centers around a group of fallen angels called the Watchers. You play as Enoch, deployed to bring these fallen angels to justice, all while inexplicably adorned in what one can only assume are Heaven’s most holy pair of Levi’s Jeans.

El Shaddai’s gameplay is split between 3D and 2D segments. The 3D segments play out as straightforward hack and slash levels. You’ll move through a generally linear environment with some light platforming challenges before being periodically stopped to fight off a few waves of enemies. Your moveset is fairly limited, but what makes combat more interesting is a focus on stealing weapons from enemies. Different weapons have different strengths and weaknesses. Being effective in combat will often require you to swap out weapons multiple times in a single encounter to deal with different enemy types. It winds up being pretty fun if admittedly somewhat repetitive.

2D levels on the other hand tend to focus much more on platforming. Combat in these sections is limited to fending off very weak enemies that are more interested in hampering your platforming than actually killing you. I found these segments significantly less interesting than the 3D segments and the platforming physics really just aren’t strong enough to support these stages. Your jumps are stiff and your movement feels awkward when confined to a flat plane. They reminded me a bit of the platforming-focused single player stages in many of the Super Smash Bros. games. Not unplayable by any means, but a very obvious weak point.

Where El Shaddai stands out and goes from a passable action game to something much more impactful is in its art design. Everything in El Shaddai is represented in a deeply abstract manner. Some stages look like a comic book or a Japanese painting. You may be on a series of platforms high above a strange cityscape or wandering through bonelike cave structures in a void of pure white. What keeps you coming back to El Shaddai after each level isn’t the scattered bits of story, the combat, or the platforming; it's the absolutely enthralling world. I wondered going in whether these visuals would still feel impressive 13 years later and they absolutely do. To this day, I’ve never played another game that looks quite like El Shaddai.

If you come in looking for an exciting third-person action title, you’ll find a passable game here. If you’re just into vaguely Biblical video game fan fictions and want something with slightly less “dude bro” energy than Dante’s Inferno or Darksiders, this is probably up your alley. But if you just want a bizarre fever dream to show off the incredibly beautiful yet abstractly unsettling worlds a video game can create, El Shaddai is absolutely your game.