In today's industry, production value is quite an important aspect of any game. Having nothing but cutting edge graphics and physics is even enough for some games to succeed. However, with El Shaddai, UTV Ignition threw most of that out of the window, instead deciding to adopt their own art style, one that doesn't rely on cutting edge graphics. It's a bold move, but it's refreshing to see developers willing to take a leap of faith, as when it works, it really works.
After starting out life in 2007 as Angelic: Ascension of the Metatron, Ignition decided to change the game's official name to El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. It's a bit more catchy, and it makes sense given that the story revolves around the Book of Enoch and follows the story of Enoch.
Various other characters will appear throughout the campaign, including a Lucifer who's on the good team. And in keeping with the game's art style, characters are dressed in rather snappy ways. Lucifer dons a pair of jeans and uses a mobile phone, for example. Clothing also plays a key part in the game's combat system, with people losing clothing depending on how hurt they get. Some enemies even get so damage that they will end up fighting in their boxer shorts, which sounds silly, but it's all done with quite a serious tone.
The game promotes different styles of play, with a core part of the experience being hack n' slash, with there also being 2D platforming elements thrown in there too. The hack n' slash gameplay works around a three-weapon system, although you can only carry one weapon at a time. In order to acquire any of the other weapons, you have to steal them from enemies, which is rather nice as they then become quite defenseless.
One interesting aspect, is that over time, your weapon will become corrupted. While hitting enemies, your weapon will go from a pristine white, to a mud colour. And when it has lots its purity, it will do less damage. You will then need to take a pause from combat to purify the weapon, which of course leaves you open to enemy attacks. It's a nice system and the only real complaint is that sometimes battles go on a little bit too long. There is a decent amount of variety with the combat, as you have a light and heavy attack, with the ability to mix and match. But with lengthy standard fights, you will extinguish all possible combinations for attacks in a pretty short space of time.
The platforming sections provide a decent break from all that hi-octane action, and while the jumping isn't that solid, the originality is. Quite often, you won't go jumping around on any conventional objects, as you'll have to wide waves or clouds in order to get to the next checkpoint "“ it's very different, but it works well.
With its unique story, art style and gameplay, El Shaddai has already made quite a solid entry into the world of video games in Japan, where it released in April. And when the game releases in the coming months in the West, hopefully it will find a place in the hearts of more open minded gamers. It's definitely worth a look for those who want a slight deviation in their gaming.
El Shaddai is due for release on the 26th of July in North America, while Europeans will have to wait until the 9th of September to check the game out. It will release on the PS3 and Xbox 360.