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PlayStation 3 Review: El Shaddai – Ascension of the Metatron

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While its title may be very lyrical sounding when enunciated properly in a smooth, calm tone, a simple glance at the words “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” may have you tilting your head to one side and weeping slightly. Exactly what is it? Well, in a nutshell, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is a video game that was inspired by Jewish religious beliefs, manufactured by the Japanese, and subsequently translated into English. And if that doesn’t cause you to tilt your head to one side and weep, then I don’t know what will.

Developed and distributed by Ignition Entertainment and Konami (respectively), El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron follows the plight of angel Enoch (voiced in this English-language version by Blake Ritson), who is assigned the unenviable task of tracking down seven fallen angels by one of God’s brightest archangels, Lucifel (as portrayed here by Jason Isaacs).

Now, as to who the hell this “Lucifel” guy is, I don’t know, but his actions here are nothing short of laughable. Throughout the game, as Enoch stumbles around the planet (and all the sub-space places that lay in-between), Lucifel gives you his advice on how to get out of bad situations, acting as a save point for your character. He also talks to God on his mobile phone (seriously), answering the Lord’s calls with “Hey” and saying such goofy things like “You know I can’t say ‘No’ to you” much in the same way a player would talk to his girlfriend.

Speaking of goofy things, there are a number of strange-looking critters that leap out during Enoch’s quest in an attempt to quash his quest. Straight out of the Bible(s) they aren’t: in fact, some of them look like they just jumped out of an old Japanese Super Giant flick as opposed to any or all of the assorted religious mythologies out there. Fortunately, Enoch has the God-given ability to jack stuff from this opponents with his bare hands, which enable him to outfit one of three weapons: an Arch (a curved blade thingy), a Gale (an electric dart shooting whatchamacallit), and a Veil (a big shield doohickey that turns into two smaller shield doohickeys and does a lot of damage).

And so, it begins: Enoch goes in search of the bad guys in order to return them to Heaven for incarceration and punishment (God “isn’t in a forgiving mood,” as one of the fallen angels points out when you confront him). But this isn’t the kind of battle that is fit for a regular Earthen terrain. Instead, players wander bizarre worlds, most of which look like early stage animatronics. Some are presented in 3D (though you cannot choose which way the camera will go), while others are in 2D, giving the game that retro feelin’ to it. There are even dimensions that look like they just crawled out of a late ’90s movie made by people who were all too proud of showing off their CGI machine.

Did I mention I didn’t care for the graphics very much? Even the characters have an impoverished air about them, looking a bit too “PlayStation 2-ish” for my money. And, though I understand that the developers of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron did all that they do intentionally, the end result in the graphics department simply rubbed me the wrong way. But it wasn’t just the graphics that irked me: I found the gameplay itself to be rather sluggish and uninteresting. I also ran afoul with the game’s controls, which look and claim to be simple, but never quite worked the way they should have. That, or my manual dexterity isn’t what it used to be, one or the other.

That said, though, the professional voice talents and soundtrack of this title are exceptionally good. Alas, that just wasn’t enough for me.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360 and Android.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.