Ok it’s a 2011 release but who cares, we’ve fallen madly and deeply in love with the world of El Shaddai. With some of the most alluring and colourful visuals we’ve ever seen in a video game, is the game all just for show or is there more lingering beneath the beautiful exterior? Well there is only one way to find out!
Console: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 9th September 2011
Developers: Ignition Tokyo
Publishers: UTV Ignition Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure, Platformer
Ok check out the trailer below first…
Now isn’t there something familiar about all of us? No we’re not talking about the religious ideologies and the familiarity in the voice of Lucifel…we’re talking about the visuals which were hopefully your third guess!
When we first caught glimpse of the games graphics we couldn’t but be reminded of Okami and Devil May Cry, it looks as if the two games hooked up and had a baby! Well this isn’t just a coincidence or a pleasant accident, the game was spearheaded by developed Takeyasu Sawaki, character designer behind Okami and DMC.
El Shaddai is the story of Enoch, a heavenly priest tasked with tracking and binding seven Angels who fell from Heaven and ultimately prevent the destruction of mankind. The game states that it has been inspired by multiple ancient texts concerned with religion but any theologian gamer worth his salt (and who can use Wikipedia) will know that game takes a lot of its inspiration from the Book of Enoch. Enoch is not alone in his journey, he is accompanied by a Guardian Angel, Lucifel (you might recognise his voice and you wouldn’t be wrong, fans of Harry Potter will be please to note that Lucifel is voiced by Lucius Malfoy actor Jason Isaacs) and four Archangels, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel and Michael. The seven angels have sealed themselves inside a tower hidden from the gaze of God and it is up to Enoch to infiltrate the tower and return the angels to heaven once more.
Gameplay is…well the back of the box describes it as ‘Easy to Learn! Hard to Master’ and that actually sums up the whole thing pretty well for us! It is a 3rd person action adventure with some old school plat-forming elements thrown in to mix things up. The game takes place across multiple dimensions switching from 2D to 3D landscapes and battles and features many different stages and missions. Guiding Enoch around the world is a pleasure with excellent controls but that’s all quickly thrown out the window when it comes to engaging in combat – our old tried and tested method of mashing the X/Square button until something dies does not work here and the combat system is actually based off rhythmic coordination, tapping the button at correct times will trigger deadly combos…oh joy…too bad we have the rhythm of a dead fish!
In fairness it’s not all that bad, it took us a little while to get to grips but once you’ve gotten the basics down you’re all set to frantically bash your enemies from a distant while holding the block button for the majority of a battle! (We’re totally pro gamers!)
Enoch isn’t unarmed in his fight to bring the Angels back to heaven, he can find and steal three types of weapon around the world and from his unconscious enemies – the Arch, the Gale and the Veil all have different attributes, combo moves and uses in the world around you. The Arch is a deadly blade that also grants the ability to float in mid air, the Gale is a projectile weapon that allows Enoch to rapidly dash from one point to another, it’s also the fastest weapon Enoch owns and the Veil is an impenetrable shield that allows Enoch to try heavy but slow punches.
Perhaps our favourite aspect of the combat system is the purification of weapons, the more you use a weapon to pummel your foes, the more tainted it becomes but with a simple button push the tainted weapon is once more purified. This also allows you to wrestle your enemies’ weapons from them, disarming them for easier combat and giving you a nifty taint free weapon with a cool and flashy combat cut scene thrown in for good measure!
Enoch also has other tools at his disposal, a powerful divine armour given to him by Lucifel that acts as a life bar, as you get hit the armour shatters until eventually you’re left semi-naked and pretty vulnerable to attacks however it can be repaired by picking up items on the field. The Rings of Truth allow you to see a special coloured ring above enemies which indicates the current advantage level you possess over them based on which of the three weapons you have equipped – these are especially useful in boss fights! Finally with your armour stripped away and the final blow struck Enoch possesses the ability to push himself past his wounds and recover by mashing the control as if your life depended on it…which it kind of does!
We’re not done with our review yet so click page 2 below for all the scrutiny that we can dish out and more!
Right let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first… and there really is only two things we can say about the game…the script/story sort of throws you into the deep end pretty quickly – we’re not joking here people, we actually thought our game was bugging because of the amount of information that is off loaded on us at the start – we went hunting for angels only to seek out a tower which contains the angels and then when we got there it turned out our first target left… it’s an awful lot to process in the first 15minutes of gameplay but trust us…stick with it!
Our second problem is tied in with the first, you are attacked by the seven angels at different stages and every time it happens our frustration levels soar because the warning you receive from the Archangels tends to come AFTER the Fallen Angel has kicked your ass into submission!
Now onto the good stuff…this game looks like a box of crayola exploded onto our televisions and somewhere between the waxy splashes of Moss Green and Whore Red…the face of the Video Game Gods appeared and smiled at us! El Shaddai is a visual feast for the eyes and souls of gamers, the game is spread across some of the most colourful and labyrinth like levels we’ve ever played in our lives and screen-caps of the game should be printed and hung in the Louvre!
Ok this game is a head rush for the eyes and the ears with astounding scores and sound effects as well as some of the best voice acting we’ve heard in a game to date – cheers to Jason Isaacs and Blake Ritson for their work – the voice acting is not muddled by the frequent out of time lip synchs that tend to occur with V/O work on Japanese titles.
To cap it off the game is also a challenge, playing it on normal mode (because Hard isn’t available first time round) we’ve fallen to our death numerous times and we’ve been beaten senseless by the arsenal of enemies that blocked our path.
Right, El Shaddai is nothing short of a work of art, it has some script issues but those are very easily forgiven because once you’ve become immersed in the world of Enoch and the angels you’ll soon find yourself captivated by the story as well as the delightful scenery. If you’re looking for something different then you cannot go wrong with El Shaddai, if you’re looking for something reminiscent of old school platformers then you won’t go wrong with El Shaddai, if you feel like brushing up on some theology or critiquing some fine art then grab yourself a copy of El Shaddai.
Oh and move over Square Enix Characters, we’re in love with Enoch now…so pretty….
Challenging and engaging
Story is a little cracked
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!