If you’re looking for an action platformer with great graphics and exciting gameplay, you’ll want to give the all-new El Shaddai: Ascenscion of the Metatron a look. Produced by Ignition Entertainment (creators of the Devil May Cry series) and available on PS3 and Xbox 360 (and possibly on Wii in the foreseeable future), the game is already on its way to becoming a classic among RPG fans and has received unanimously positive critical reviews during the two weeks it’s been available to the public.
El Shaddai’s plot is simple and sweet, and loosely based on the legendary Book of Enoch, an ancient tome that tells the story of a priest who must find and defeat seven fallen angels in order to save the earth from a devastating flood. Enoch must thieve weapons (in particular, a sacred blade, ring and shield) from his foes; as the player uses these items, they become unholy or “corrupt” and must be purified in order to have full power. Enoch must navigate through the floors of ancient tower, each “floor” being a world of its own ruled by a particular fallen angel and featuring a specific theme, i.e. air, fire, water, etc. Gameplay value is very high with El Shaddai, with a simple to use three-button control system that makes it easy to elegantly explore, navigate and battle. As an RPG, it gives the player the freedom to take different paths and create his or her own unique adventure, but the various paths one chooses always lead to the same destination in the long run.
El Shaddai’s sharp graphics and visual design created by Japanese artist Takeyasu Sawaki (who also lent his talents to Devil May Cry and Okami) are simply awesome in every way. The snowy skyscapes full of billowing clouds in one world are minimalist, yet strikingly surreal and full of depth; indeed, the display seems a bit like a cross between a Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso painting come to life. The battles are dazzlingly nuanced and breathtaking, with the traditional anime-style characters twisting, spinning and gliding through the air as they attack each other with holy blades; there’s even a dizzying motorcycle race/battle through a Tron-esque world filled with tunnels and narrow corridors, sparks and flames flying furiously as Enoch collidces and scrapes against walls and foes. There’s really something for all tastes in El Shaddai when it comes to these meticulous graphics – those who like a more mellow and dream-like design, those who prefer futuristic visuals, and those who delight at a vivid wonderland atmosphere. The score is unique and employs heavy use of synthesizers, harps and bells, and is perhaps similar to a cross-breed of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter IV’s music.
El Shaddai: Ascenscion of the Metatron is still a bit pricey due to its recent release, but worth every penny for fans of RPGs, particularly Okami and the Devil May Cry series. Whether you buy it for Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, you can rest assured you’re guaranteed at least several days of challenging, visually arresting entertainment!
OVERALL SCORE: 10