PlayStation 3 Game Review: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The single player adventure game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is inspired by the apocryphic/ Deuterocanonical Book of Enoch and follows the adventures of Enoch and his God-given quest to return seven fallen angels to heaven – or else God will flood the Earth…again.

The Hype

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a third-person, single player action-adventure game in which players must subdue rogue angels, loose on the Earth in order to uphold God’s divine plan and prevent the destruction of humanity. Loosely based on the apocryphal Judaic works concerning the pre-flood biblical patriarch Enoch and his role in some traditions as Metatron — the angelic intermediary between God and his people — El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron features a compelling storyline; a distinct visual experience; combat, platforming and exploration gameplay; unique weapons and feedback systems; and controls that are designed to suit all levels of players.

The Story of Man, Angels and God

Long ago, when the seed of mankind was first taking root, God laid down his plans for the human race. He appointed the Grigori, the most human of all angels in heaven, to watch over them from the celestial realm. The Grigori, known to some as the “The Watchers,” dutifully continued their vigilance through the ages. Over time, they became fascinated by the lives humans led, with the uninhibited freedom and passions. Subtle at first, the fascination soon led to feelings of longing, desire and lust until one fateful day, the Grigori turned away from God and descended to Earth. When Heaven’s highest order, the Council of Elders, discovered the Grigori’s betrayal, they were furious. Their anger only grew stronger when they learned that the fallen angels had taken in daughters of men, deviating mankind from God’s great plan.

To set matters right, the Council decided to send a terrible flood to wipe out the entire human race. However, there was one man who objected to the Council’s decision. His name was Enoch, a scribe whose righteousness moved God to bring him to heaven while still living mortal. The Council heard Enoch’s pleas and agreed to spare mankind on the condition that Enoch capture the fallen angels and bring them back to heaven to be imprisoned. To prevent the impending flood, Enoch returned to Earth on a mission to escort the fallen angels back to heaven. Upon his arrival he confronted Azazel, one of the seven who fell. However, Azazel refused to return to Heaven and went into hiding along with the others, warning Enoch not to follow. And so, Enoch’s long journey begins.

  • Gameplay: Expect the Unexpected – El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron defies gaming convention by mixing a wide variety of gameplay styles including 2D side-scrolling action and 3D exploration.
  • A Compelling Storyline – A compelling storyline based on the ancient apocryphal tome, The Book of Enoch, but told with a modern flare and uniquely artistic approach.
  • A Distinct Visual Experience – Immerse yourself in beautiful dreamlike game environments that seem to morph around your movements and that reflect watercolor anime animation style.
  • Unique Feedback System – Innovative “Zero HUD Player Feedback System” utilizes dynamic environment, character, and audio clues to keep the player engaged without cluttering the screen with extraneous indicators and information.
  • Controls – The three-button control system is simple to use yet surprisingly deep, delivering exhilarating, flowing action that allows both casual and hardcore players to enjoy the game at their own pace.
  • Unique Weapons – All weapons are forged from crystalline heavenly knowledge beyond the grasp of humanity and possess supernatural powers. Among them is the Arch, a holy blade with the hidden power to slice through anything.

The Reality

The single player adventure game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is inspired by the apocryphic/ Deuterocanonical Book of Enoch and follows the adventures of Enoch and his God-given quest to return seven fallen angels to heaven – or else God will flood the Earth…again. The stakes are high as the story also draws from the Dead Sea Scrolls, first revealed in 1947, that include 972 Hebrew Bible texts and supplementary documents. El Shaddai (Hebrew for God Almighty): Ascension of the Metatron (voice of God) also draws from other biblical elements and people.

As in many video games, players do not need extensive knowledge of source materials, but that knowledge certainly enhances the game experience. Enoch, voiced by Jake Ritson, is the great grandfather of Noah, walked with God (Genesis 5:22). Set within the Tower of Babel, the seven fallen angels use a false sky to hide from God’s sight. Semayza, Baraqel, Arakeil, Sariel, Armaros, Ezekiel (female), and Azare (Semayza’s “right hand man”) all face fugitive status where they must prepare to have their souls tore out and be locked “in prison for eternity”.

Enoch has several guides along the way including Lucifel who eventually becomes Lucifer. Well voiced by Jason Isaacs, Lucifel communicates with God through a phone and quips unique dialogue lines laced with foreshadowing hints of his future. Enoch also gets auditory assistance from four archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel.

Players can choose an easy or normal difficulty level. The game recommends the easy level for players who want a more story-based experience and the normal mode for combat ready gamers. Players get an essential introduction then a clever side-scrolling sequence where they can fight enemies as they read through the opening credits.

A mysterious Cyclops character and other game elements produce intrigue and sometimes open-ended resolutions. The most essential element is that Enoch does not really die. This element is never completely explained, but such an advantageous perk does not really does not need an explanation.

Players hear Lucifel snap his fingers and Enoch is back in the game – an especially nice feature when battling boss enemies. Sometimes players must repeat the boss fight while other times they progress through it. There are no health / status meters and players cannot falling off ledge as they maneuver through the environments. These elements all enhance the visual experience and create an appealing clutter free screen.

The inevitable fallen angel showdowns and their various minion allies create interesting, slightly uneven boss fights while the stellar environments and simple controls. Single button moves from jump (X), attack (square) and block (R1) and the combination moves, counter attacks, mid air attacks and parry moves are easy to execute. The real complexity lies in the timing and rhythm of the button pushing. Some combination moves leave Enoch vunerable for a short time. Players can also take weapons from enemies and use three unique unlockable weapons.

The arch weapon is a jagged curved blade that slices through baddies and allows for shorts levitation bursts and double jump-type moves. As the name suggests, the gale is a ring-like weapon for quick dashes, wind based attacks and long range rapid fires at baddies. The veil shields Enoch while providing a powerful punch – “the fist of God”.

The originality in color schemes and overall design is astounding. The Monochromatic color palette mixed with kaleidoscopic accents offers a high level of “eye candy”. The choir filled, epic musical score, created by composers Kouda Masato and Hasegawa Kento, enhances the experience even more.

Once players understand Enoch’s full action arsenal they can lay waste to hundreds of enemies. Attack animations include feathers that fall off Enoch while enemies leave clothing and other items for Enoch to collect. Enoch can also can get special pearls and “freeman’s notes” for useful intel into upcoming situations, so players do not have to improvise so much when they encounter enemies. A planned attack and careful strategy requires careful reading and instructional skills.

Over time Enoch’s weapons become corrupted, which weaken them. Players can hit the L1 button to purify weapons and perform other special moves like recoveries, overboosts, and guard breaks. Players get a large save file cache (50), so tracking progress is not a problem. on-demand, in-game help becomes very challenging, especially regarding jumps and general navigation/movement challenges, so pay attention to the special instructional screens as they progressively appear.

Director and character artist, Sawaki Takeyasu, and Devil May Cry designer Takeyasu Sawaki, combine forces to create this amazing game published and developed by Ignition Entertainment, which also includes leaderboards and trophies. Amazing game. Worth every dollar. Also available on XBox 360.

Review: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

Where to Buy: Amazon and other stores

Price: $59.99

What I Like: high production values, intriguing plot/characters, outstanding visuals, simple controls keep players looking at the spectacular environments, musical score

What Needs Improvement: medium replay value after conquering, unexplained events, open ended elements

Source: Provided by publisher


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1 reply

  1. The art style is only part of the joy of El Shaddai as far as I’m concerned.  The gameplay is elegant, exciting and of high value, and the plot unique and unconventional.  One of the best games of the year IMO.