El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is an innovative new action-adventure epic that blah blah blah. That’s what the card from PAX says. Let me tell you what you need to know about this extremely impressive game. This is a melee combat game driven by a particularly fluid art style. The fluidity derives from its developers’ background. Most migrated from Platinum Games so saying this feels as good as Bayonetta is no overstatement. It was more reminiscent of the original Devil May Cry. El Shaddai, as the name may suggest, is related to the Bible. In fact, it is a re-telling of the Bible with liberties taken.
You play as Enoch, a warrior (rumored to be a a fallen angel) forced to restore balance between Heaven and Earth. You start the game with Armor and no weapon. Enoch acquires weapons by stealing them (hold square) from the defiled enemies and purifiying it (L1). After extended usage, weapons require intermittent purification (keep it clean).
Enoch requires fout buttons for operation (simple right?). Light attacks, heavy attacks, and a block/parry input accompany a jump button on the controller face. Tapping the light/heavy buttons in various sequence with different timing results in a cornucopia of attack combinations. Holding triangle launches enemies into the air and other conventions from other games make their appearance. But here’s my favorite part, the combos, dashes and skills vary with each weapon you equip.
What’s new about this you ask? Not only does combat with a ranged weapon feel different than a short-range weapon, the dash skill changes itself as well. So, a the ranged bow dash skill zips Enoch across screen to meet his enemies up close and personal. The enemies are no pushover and attack cooperatively and intelligently. As they continue to cut Enoch down, his armor visibly cracks and breaks away.
Artistically, the game illicts a very Okami aura and the art-style bows in revenerce to impressionist expression. Whether you are moving in a 3D plane or platforming within the 2D variety, the way forward requires leaps of faith as the navigable path forms under and around you constantly. Few games exercise this beautiful aesthetic with as much frequency or beauty.Altogether, I was thoroughly impressed with the game. It has absolutely nothing to do with me meeting Shane Bettenhausen (although he was very cool). It was the first game I saw at PAXEAST and it set the bar extremely high. El Shaddai, published by Ignition Entertainment, releases Spring 2011 on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.