As a game “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” is one every future game designer should play. It’s a diamond in the rough with many flaws hidden underneath its lush visuals and with very little PR backing it I can see why it didn’t sell well. This is what held the game back from achieving its near-perfect potential and what makes you want to keep playing.
Non-Visible Character Progression
Before you beat the game and unlock the ability to see a HUD they give you no visible sign that you are getting stronger. No meters, no auras, not even stats in the pause menu. The only visible changes you can see to your character is your armor being destroyed. Instead, the game tells you that you’re getting stronger by having the bosses fight you constantly in every chapter which brings me to my next point.
You Get Your Ass Kicked Way Too Much
The main antagonists, The Watchers, frequently appear in each level. Taunting you and telling you to turn your back and leave. It doesn’t stop there. They fight you and kick your ass so much you end up asking yourself “When does it stop?” It’s like the neighborhood bullies beating up on a single defenseless kid and you can’t do anything about it. After a couple of hours you’re finally able to beat your first Fallen Angel but it’s not until the last quarter of the game that you beat another one.
You don’t get a “Game Over” with every single Watcher encounter. You just fight until you lose all of your armor or when they lose a piece of armor. Out of all of the encounters except for maybe three you will get your ass handed to you. After the fight, you’ll just go back to completing the level, almost like it never happened.
Having An Overlay For The Sake Of Having One
The game looks gorgeous. No one can deny that, however sometimes they’ll have an overlay just to have an overlay. It doesn’t help you play at all, in fact its just annoying. I get the whole wanting to be all ‘artistic’ and pull off a heavenly look but the textures and lighting already serve this purpose well enough. And if something serves no purpose in a video game then why should it be there? It also hurts the ability to tell what’s a platform and what isn’t at certain parts.
Fights provide the most difficulty, if you don’t get the combat system you’ll snap back into existence frequently until you’re out of retries. However, if you miss a jump off of a platform most of the time they will just spawn you on the platform you jumped off of. This completely reduces the difficulty to nil in these segments and since there are a lot of them you don’t really have to worry. Sometimes if you miss once ever four times they’ll take a piece of armor off but it doesn’t cut it. This is about half of the game so it should be equally as hard as the combat.
Spawn me from the beginning! Spawn me at least a section back! But don’t spawn me where I just fell off of!
What Makes It Great
A lot of critics have stated that the story is convoluted and is hard to follow. I don’t agree, the story is told in bits and pieces but they give you enough to connect all of the dots. It does require thinking and some reading in between the lines but honestly what do you expect from a partial adaptation of a non-canon biblical text? The concept of archangels descending into Earth and creating a tower to evolve humans thousands of years ahead of time is interesting in itself. Pro-creating with human wives/husbands and spawning cutesy immortal beings bearing false souls was just the icing on the cake.
Take note, if you want to create an action game based off of ancient text this is how you do it.
In a day where God of War and Batman-style combat reigns supreme El Shaddai’s combat is a step above the rest. Instead of giving you a bunch of different weapons that you’ll only probably use two or using a two button attack and counterattack system this game utilizes a rock-paper-scissors system. Gale beats Arch, Veil beats Gale, and Arch beats Veil. As well as weapon beats no-weapon which you’ll run into those cases as you steal weapons or get your weapon destroyed by the Watchers.
If you mismatch you’ll either cause little to normal damage and the fights will tend to drag. You can chain combos together by timing button presses right as well as guard breaks. You base all of your moves with the speed of the weapon which ranges from Light (Arch) to Mid (Gale) to Heavy (Veil). It also affects jumping during platforming, which adds an extra difficulty.
Whenever a game critic discusses a platformer they always talk about the ‘feel’ of the movement. How the character flows, smooth frames, weight distribution. Its like the character has to have a certain elegance about it according to its theme. El Shaddai has this. In 3D Action-Adventure games this is very hard to describe so I can’t really say much other than to play the game to get a better understanding.
For those who played the game what do you guys think? In my opinion it’s easy to say the game sucks if you only play the first couple of hours but if you give it time it gets really good.