El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a game that wasn't designed for all gamers. Instead, when the team was assembled to make it, the focus was to create a game where the creative process drove the design of the game and not requirements for certain aspects of gameplay. In this way, El Shaddai is more of a unique experience than it is a traditional game.
In El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, seven of God's angels known as The Watchers were tasked with observing God's flock. With time, the angels began to wish they could join the humans down below and eventually plotted to abandon the light of Heaven to do just that. When they did, God decided that as punishment for this unforgivable crime he was going to flood the world that the fallen angels loved so much.
This is where Enoch, God's scribe, enters the story. He goes to earth to stop seven fallen angels in a bid to appease God before he floods the world as punishment to the angels for leaving Heaven.
During our hands-on of El Shaddai at E3 2011, we played through a bit of Ezekiel's level. Ezekiel has become obsessed with nature, and so the level reflects that with its style. Different plants adorn the levels and some platforming sections required jumps onto fast moving clouds as they passed through the foreground and into the background or vice versa. One of the coolest effects was found in an area of the demo where the area would change from day into night and back again.
The gameplay seemed fairly tight if not a little simple. Enoch has different attacks depending on the weapon he wields, and some more powerful attacks could be triggered by holding down the attack buttons before releasing them. These weapons must be stolen from fallen angels and purified before use. As the weapon is used, it becomes contaminated with the taint of the fallen angels it cuts and must be purified - sometimes during combat - to become effective again.
The two heavenly weapons we saw during the demo were the arch and the gale. The arch is a bow blade which Enoch can use for close range combat, while the gale is a ranged weapon which fires projectiles at enemies. A third weapon wasn't shown until the end of the demo, but the demo ends before the encounter which grants the player access to it. This weapon, the veil, is a powerful melee weapon which can double as a shield.
Each weapon also has a secondary benefit for Enoch, with the arch allowing him to glide, and the gale giving him a dash attack. The weapon are further characterized with a rock paper scissors hierarchy where the arch is effective against the veil, the veil against the gale, and the gale against the arch. Just like a rock paper scissors relations, weapons are also ineffective against the type which is effective against them.
Lucifel, explained as being an interpretation of Lucifer before he becomes the "bearer of light" is a being who exists outside of time, and his characterization reflects that. When we met him in the demo, he was talking on a cell phone before being approached. He serves as a sort of aide to Enoch dispensing useful advice and information. During the demo he narrated about Ezekiel's obsession with nature.
An E3 trailer for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has been made available and shows off some of the unique art style that makes this game so interesting.
As you can see, this isn't your everyday ordinary hack and slash game. It's definitely been infused with its own unique art style and music. Along with the video is a bunch of screenshots which give a better look at some of the abilities in action.
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In Japan, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has become something of a cult hit, but after a great first week of sales, its sales numbers have tapered off a bit. Fans of the series have created a great deal of fan art and fan fiction however, and even supported the unique style of the game by buying a limited run of Enoch's jeans.
Will you be venturing in the battle against the fallen angels, or is this game too off the beaten path for you?
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron will be bringing its unique style to the west on July 26, 2011. The same demo played at E3 is available now for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.