Niche Gaming Spotlight: An Editor’s Picks

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

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Beautiful cover artwork.

 

El Shaddai: Ascention of the Metatron
Developer: Ignition Tokyo
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360

El Sha…who? Ascension of the Metawhat?!? Strange names aside, El Shaddai is pure action gold with an incredibly beautiful artstyle.  A lot of reviewers seemed to totally misunderstand this game.  Seriously, it should hold a place in everybody’s list of most interesting and beautiful games of this era of consoles for the style alone.  Perhaps there is a rare breed of gamers who just dig crazy artistic nonsensical games like this one (yep, I’m one of those guys).   At times, the game actually looks fairly simple, but the cell shaded characters and wild landscape designs are definitely a sight to behold. The music is also fantastic, and does a great job in accentuating the scenes and action.

Slicin’ them baddies.

 

Okay, so that is just the sensory stuff, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. How does the game play? Well, it plays like a very solid action-platformer. Think Muramasa: Demonblade except with full 3D movement, save for the side-scrolling levels. At times the game seems to be a bit samey-samey, as you will do a lot of fighting, but hey, that’s what action games are about, right? Every so often the game will throw in a very interesting old-school level, where you must platform your way to the end, a la Super Mario. Seriously, this game is like a mishmash of old and new and it’s such a refreshing game because of it.

Combat in the game is very intuitive.  You start out with one weapon, but eventually you’ll steal several other combat devices from certain enemies along the way.  Finding out which weapons work for what enemy can be a pain at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a blast. The way the character controls is very smooth. It’s very intuitive, and the precision with which you can aim your attacks is incredible. Rigid, this game is not.

More of that interesting style

At first the story makes almost no sense- the game tends to shift from place to place without much rhyme or reason- but eventually all the threads string together. You take the role of Enoch, a human that is tasked by God and his stylish messenger-on-a-cell-phone, Lucifel, to find seven fallen angels that have defied God and created a plane of existence for their followers. Little do they know their actions will cause a great flood that will destroy mankind. Enoch must find these seven defectors before the cataclysm should happen. Along the way, you will be aided by several ‘Archangels’ that give you incredible powers to smash your enemies with.

The game has a very interesting concept, for sure, and is a nice change of pace from the usual video game tropes. The concept is based on world religion, mainly Judaism and the ‘Book of Enoch.’ The name El Shaddai itself translates roughly to ‘God Almighty.’ Having religious content is enough to scare some people away, but with this game there is no worry because the game is a work of fiction, and we all know that RPGs in the past have had some kind of religious content in them (Xenogears, for example).

…trippy.

 

Just when it felt like El Shadddai was treading too much familiar ground, the game smashed my perception and literally dropped Enoch in an intense chase scene on bikes in a futuristic city that ended in a zany boss fight.  It’s moments like this that you feel the crazy ambition of Japanese developers.  I love it.  This game will twist and turn and do some crazy things that you would not expect. The boss battles are very interesting as well, and very challenging. Some of them are simply massive– think Shadow of the Colossus.

When this game came out, I remember reading varying reviews. Some people enjoyed the action platforming and crazy style, while others couldn’t make sense of the game one way or another. To me, this game is a fresh offering that feels like a tribute to old-school design, except with an incredibly innovative perspective and storyline.

I would recommend getting this game, which can be had on Amazon for roughly $16 new; it is worth that price, and then some. Also, if you want to see more games like this that really push the envelope and try something new, then it’s definitely worth supporting.

Next Page:  Mystery Game Number Two

About Clinton Nix

Former Volunteer- Clinton started following the movement back when it was still being hosted on the IGN message boards and with the Amazon push of Monado. He’s also an audio engineer, studying in Seattle and waiting for his big break into the world of audio (but not to the detriment of video game writing, of course).


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