Xbox 360 Review: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, ‘cos Kansas is going bye-bye!

El Shaddai is one of the strangest games I’ve come across in years. You play as Enoch and the story inspired by the Old Testament in which he battles fallen angels who have need to be defeated. The game takes you to a whole number of different locations, each with a unique look to it that hasn’t been seen in games up until now. The game has such a different art style than what we’re used to as gamers, that some will embrace or avoid. So what should you do?

The game is a third-person hack-n-slash with platform elements, switching between 3D and 2D stages. The game is mostly linear, although a few collectables are hidden along the way. Enoch gets heavenly weapons to use against his foes, but over time it becomes corrupted with evil and needs purifying with the LB button to get back to its main strength. If there’s a problem with the combat, it’s that Enoch can only hold one weapon and sometimes different enemies require different weapons to defeat, which means constantly hitting them to steal their weapons and using it against them.

The problem with this is that it becomes repetitive very quickly. Within the first few hours, you’ll realise that the game repeats the same pattern with its gameplay. Go forward, be ambushed by enemies, move onto the next area and repeat with the odd 2D platforming section thrown in. The game will take roughly 8 hours to complete, depending on difficulty it could be more and there are reasons to replay like getting certain ranks and scores for achievements, but that’s only for the truly dedicated.

The plot itself is described as a mixture of adventure, humour, and horror, along with breathtaking beauty and heart-tugging emotion and that’s a fair summary of what’s on offer. The gameplay may be repetitive, but the story has a lot to offer and the visuals are like being on an acid trip (not that I’ve ever been on one) but it definitely feels like whoever designed the levels must have had help from some similar substance. The soundtrack delivers a great combination of tunes that match the crazy, yet epic nature of the game and the voice-acting isn’t too shabby either. It’s clear that the concept came from the minds of Devil May Cry and Okami, although it has that No More Heroes/Killer 7 character style about it.

The Verdict

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is the strangest game of this generation and is fun to play, but it can become repetitive quickly. If you can look past that you’ll find a game that looks unique and the tale is brilliant too. It’s definitely worth playing, even if the name isn’t the most appealing…