The name of this Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 release quickly caught my attention: I had remembered Alan Rickman’s Metatron character from the hilarious Kevin Smith movie “Dogma,” and after doing a little research, I learned that “El Shaddai” is one of the Judaic names for God. El Shaddai appears to be based on the Book of Enoch. In this interpretation, Enoch is a scribe who has been tasked with returning seven fallen angels back to Heaven for punishment by beating the hell out of them.
El Shaddai Asenscion of the Metatron is primarily a third person action game that according to the box, “perfectly balances and fuses together different types of gameplay. 3D exploration, 3D battles, 2D exploration, 2D battles, and even driving!”
“Even driving...” Yeah, this should be interesting.
Solid Gameplay - El Shaddai has a solid fighting system that makes beating the crap out of the many bad guys you come across easy to do. It isn’t very deep, but it gets the job done.
Variety - While primarily a third-person hack-n-slash action game, El Shaddai mixes up the gameplay with 2D platforming sections and even some driving. This almost keeps the gameplay from getting stale.
Artsy - The visuals in El Shaddai are very striking and vary significantly from level to level. The game’s orchestral score help to give the proceedings an epic feel.
OH, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE
Repetitive - You are going to spend the overwhelming majority of El Shaddai fighting slight variations of the same three enemy types and jumping over platforms. While the 2D sections, boss battles and driving try to break things up, most of the game is spent running, hacking, slashing and hopping through 3D sections.
Pacing - The 3D action sections that make up the meat of the game are so long and such a chore to go through that I grew bored of them well before the game tried to un-bore me with something different. There are a few opportunites to explore, but the game is highly linear and takes way too long to mix things up.
Leaps of Faith - While having the ability to double-jump and hover makes the platforming bits a little easier, there are occasions where the margin of error is razor-thin or Enoch jumps off the top of the screen. Both of these things made the platforming parts more aggravating than they should have been on occasion.
In playing El Shaddai, Ascension of the Metatron, I was reminded of Alice Madness Returns. Both of those games combined wonderful aesthetics with gameplay that didn’t quite live up to the visuals. Whereas Alice’s story drew me in and made me want to keep going to see what happened next, the story in El Shaddai was not as compelling. The game’s long, drawn-out sections of repetitive fights and occasionaly frustrating platforming make it a slog to play. While El Shaddai: Rise of the Metatron has heavenly aspirations, its merely mortal gameplay brings it back down to Earth.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*