El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

ElShaddai

The single player adventure game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is inspired by the apocryphic/ Deuterocanonical Book of Enoch and follows the adventures of Enoch and his God-given quest to return seven fallen angels to heaven – or else God will flood the Earth…again.

The stakes are high as the story also draws from the Dead Sea Scrolls, first revealed in 1947, that include 972 Hebrew Bible texts and supplementary documents.

El Shaddai (Hebrew for God Almighty): Ascension of the Metatron (voice of God) also draws from other biblical elements and people. As in many video games, players do not need extensive knowledge of source materials, but that knowledge certainly enhances the game experience.

Enoch, voiced by Jake Ritson, is the great-grandfather of Noah, walked with God (Genesis 5:22). Set within the Tower of Babel, the seven fallen angels use a false sky to hide from God’s sight. Semayza, Baraqel, Arakeil, Sariel, ArmarosEzekiel (female), and Azare (Semayza’s “right hand man”) all face fugitive status where they must prepare to have their souls tore out and be locked “in prison for eternity”.

Enoch has several guides along the way including Lucifel who eventually becomes Lucifer. Well voiced by Jason Isaacs, Lucifel communicates with God through a phone and quips unique dialogue lines laced with foreshadowing hints of his future. Enoch also gets auditory assistance from four archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel.

Players can choose an easy or normal difficulty level. The game recommends the easy level for players who want a more story-based experience and the normal mode for combat ready gamers. Players get an essential introduction then a clever side-scrolling sequence where they can fight enemies as they read through the opening credits.

A mysterious Cyclops character and other game elements produce intrigue and sometimes open-ended resolutions. The most essential element is that Enoch does not really die. This element is never completely explained, but such an advantageous perk does not really does not need an explanation.

Players hear Lucifel snap his fingers and Enoch is back in the game – an especially nice feature when battling boss enemies. Sometimes players must repeat the boss fight while other times they progress through it. There are no health / status meters and players cannot falling off ledge as they maneuver through the environments. These elements all enhance the visual experience and create an appealing clutter free screen.

The inevitable fallen angel showdowns and their various minion allies create interesting, slightly uneven boss fights while the stellar environments and simple controls. Single button moves from jump (X), attack (square) and block (R1) and the combination moves, counter attacks, mid-air attacks and parry moves are easy to execute. The real complexity lies in the timing and rhythm of the button pushing. Some combination moves leave Enoch vulnerable for a short time. Players can also take weapons from enemies and use three unique unlockable weapons.

The arch weapon is a jagged curved blade that slices through baddies and allows for shorts levitation bursts and double jump-type moves. As the name suggests, the gale is a ring-like weapon for quick dashes, wind based attacks and long-range rapid fires at baddies. The veil shields Enoch while providing a powerful punch – “the fist of God”.

The originality in color schemes and overall design is astounding. The Monochromatic color palette mixed with kaleidoscopic accents offers a high level of “eye candy”. The choir filled, epic musical score, created by composers Kouda Masato and Hasegawa Kento, enhances the experience even more.

Once players understand Enoch’s full action arsenal they can lay waste to hundreds of enemies. Attack animations include feathers that fall off Enoch while enemies leave clothing and other items for Enoch to collect. Enoch can also can get special pearls and “freeman’s notes” for useful intel into upcoming situations, so players do not have to improvise so much when they encounter enemies. A planned attack and careful strategy requires careful reading and instructional skills.

Over time Enoch’s weapons become corrupted, which weaken them. Players can hit the L1 button to purify weapons and perform other special moves like recoveries, overboosts, and guard breaks. Players get a large save file cache (50), so tracking progress is not a problem. on-demand, in-game help becomes very challenging, especially regarding jumps and general navigation/movement challenges, so pay attention to the special instructional screens as they progressively appear.

This amazing game was published and developed by Ignition Entertainment, which also includes leaderboards and trophies. It’s an amazing game (***1/2 out of four stars) and worth every dollar. Also available on XBox 360.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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