El Shaddi: Ascension of the Metatron Review- Is the Art Style Eno
In some ways El Shaddi is unlike any game I've ever played, but in other ways it is also a clone of some of the most popular game franchises out there today. There is nothing wrong with El Shaddi, but other than the art style there is nothing to get really excited about either. After a lot of deliberation 4 out of 5 stars felt like the right score for the game. The story is okay, the price seems a little high at 60 dollars, and the combat seems too simple to get excited over.
The story follows the loose interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You play as Enoch, from the Book of Enoch, and God sends you on a mission to take down the Grigori, also known at The Watchers. The Watchers are angels appointed by God to watch over mankind when it was created. Each of the seven Watchers decides that their plans for mankind are better than God's and each create their own perfect world for mankind. Enoch spends the rest of the game with the help of Lucifel trying to stop the Grigori and return them to Heaven.
All of this sounds like an amazing tale, but without reading a wiki after I beat the game I never would have gotten the nuances of the story from the game itself. The presentation of the story is really confusing at times and doesn't go into enough depth to make you want to really care about each character. You keep fighting the same Watchers over and over again and its not really explained why they keep appearing in another Watcher's world. The game also doesn't really explain what the basic enemies are and why they are there. They each have "defiled" weapons from Heaven, but that's about it for context.
When approaching the game it is hard to come to it for a gripping story or challenging combat, which is surprising considering Sawaki Takeyasu (Devil May Cry) is one of its creators. The beautiful art style and the games stylistic choices are what a player comes to El Shaddi for, and they were made clear to me when I found out that Masato Kimuara, who was the head artist of Okami, was in charge of all the art in the game. A combination of these two creative geniuses sounds like a recipe for success, but only one really succeeds.
I played the game on normal difficulty it felt like Devil May Cry or God of War style combat just a lot easier. I didn't try easy mode, because it seemed like even less fun to fight enemies. If you just want the story and not the actually have to try I would say easy mode would be perfect for you. The combat just never feels quite right, even some of the weapons in the game are clearly borrowed from other games with a different tone. Enoch's veil weapon is a shield that can be broken into gloves that he can punch or block enemies. As soon as I saw his veil I recognized it from God of War 3 when Kratos get Hercules' Cestus. Once again, El Shaddi reminds me of better combat in another game. It's just a little weird to constantly be reminded of more in depth gameplay from other similar games while playing this crazy and colorful game.
It also has both 2D and 3D platforming in various stages. It's a nice way of breaking up the sometimes tedious gameplay. Now, the 2D platforming really is nice, but the 3D is a little frustrating, but not in a bad way. If you pay attention you should be fine. It is when you try to rush that you slip off the edge and die over and over again. The 2D parts really highlight what is the biggest problem with the combat. You can just mash the attack button again and again and win almost every time. The re is some depth to the combat, but there really is no need to try to figure that depth out. Frankly, it's unfortunate that even on normal difficulty all one has to do is block when appropriate, run away when necessary, and button mash attack every bad guy you see.
The art style and the striking backgrounds is the reason why you should play El Shaddi. The rough shading of every character really gives it that Japanese Anime look which is not an easy thing to make look elegant in games. The colors, shapes, windows, fireworks, and Tron looking backgrounds are really breathtaking. El Shaddi definitely has some of the best looking backgrounds I've ever seen in a video game. The designer jeans on every one is a little quirky, but also awesome that angels wear blue jeans and have flip phones to chat with God. The Tron and Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children influences are great, kind of odd, but also fun and exciting.
One quick thing about the music is that I wish they had a larger soundtrack. I'm sure that there were more than three songs, but it seemed like every new song was one that I just heard ten minutes before. It's a minor thing to quibble about, but it just became really noticeable after playing the game for many hours.
There are many reasons to play and not to play this game. If a unique art style, Jason Issacs great voice acting showing Lucifel (Devil) slowly turn evil, and easy combat with a familiar story are for you, then pick it up today. On the other hand, if the framerate dips, a lot dying while trying to jump, confusing storytelling, and familiar dumbed down combat aren't your thing I would just rent it. Still, El Shaddi: Ascension of the Metatron is worth playing. In a world of games with realistic looking real world environments, it's nice to see creative people go crazy with their vision and never stop the whole way through.