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El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron is like an undiscovered band -- all the more alluring for its obscurity. But as well as its super-cool status, it's also a very well put together game.
My friends often go on at me for liking things just because they are different. Sure, sometimes finding something that no-one else knows about might make me be more into it. But it's more than just wanting something new and unsullied by the masses. Music, films and games are how I spend my free time, and they need to feel like they reflect who I am if I'm going to get the most out of them.
You may not have heard about El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron, but again that's not the only reason I like it. Looking at screen shots of the game you might wonder whether it is actually playable, or if it just looks pretty.
El Shaddai often looks more like a painting that a videogame. A bit like Flower, or Limbo it's a game that is as enjoyable to watch as it is to play. But unlike those games, this is much more up front about telling its story.
For a start the whole thing is based on the apocryphal Book of Enoch. This sets in motion a story about angels and men that could just as easily have been lifted from Greek tragedy as the Bible. Enoch is caught up in a Heavenly battle with Fallen Angels. Against this dark backdrop he must prevail to save mankind from a great flood. It's a story that, like Dante's Inferno, has some weighty doses of adventure, humour, and horror.
One of the reasons it's not a very well known game is that the gameplay is actually very hard to explain. It dances between platforming, brawling, adventuring and even shooting. I've tried to go through the basics with my friends and so far haven't got past the stage where they have puzzled expressions on their faces.
El Shaddai often looks more like a painting that a videogame.
Needless to say, this makes me love the game all the more -- I've put the time and effort in to figure out what it is all about, and now I can reap the rewards of my labours. As you can tell, it takes a bit of while to get used to.
Provided you don't mind spending a bit of time before it makes sense though, you should be fine. There are some clever gameplay and camera tricks that El Shaddai uses to give the action an other worldly feel.
One of my favourite is the weapon system where you can power up a particular sword or bow so it is more powerful, or you can steal whatever the current opponent has. The sort of choices it forces on you is unusual these days, where games usually let you carry a truck load of different weapons with you at all times. It reminded me of the nail biting firepower choices in the Nemesis and Salamander games my older brother used to play when I was little(er).
If you are looking for a platform game that out of the ordinary, El Shaddai offers something unique.
Sometimes El Shaddai does go a bit overboard with the story it is tell -- come on already I just want to play the next level. But nothing as bad as Dante's Inferno that literally had me screaming at the screen in frustration.
If you are looking for a platform game that is something out of the ordinary, and appreciate the work that has gone into walking its own path, El Shaddai offers something unique. It's not often that a game of this stature flies under the radar of most gamers for so long. Although I may be giving away the secret that makes me like the game all the more, I really think more people should play it - so give it a go.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: