El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron demo thoughts

by wfgodbold

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron‘s trial version (retail release in Japan at the end of April, in the US this summer) hit the PSN and Xbox Live (in Japan, at least) today. Other than that it’s a weird, 2D platformer/beat ’em up loosely based on the Book of Enoch, I didn’t know what to expect going in. All opinions are based on the PSN demo; I don’t have a Japanese Xbox 360 or Live account, so I’m limited in my options.

You control Enoch with the left stick, attack with square, guard with R1, and jump with X; when next to a stunned enemy, you purify them with L1 (and steal their weapon!). If your health drops to zero, hammer on L1, R1, square, and X to persevere!

The world is a washed out white, with watercolor-like pools, rocks, and trees scattered about. Enoch himself is a blond, armored man and is initially weaponless. He can double jump, and can string together three attacks into combos. Holding down X when jumping allows Enoch to float briefly; he casts a white circular shadow on the ground that helps you judge where he is in the 3D platforming segments. Holding down the attack button allows you to charge and then release a more powerful, shorter combo.

I stole a weird, lightsaber-like bat’leth looking weapon from a stunned enemy; the first group was pretty easy. As you take damage, your armor gets destroyed (the same happens to enemies); when you’re close to death, Enoch is clad only in blue jeans, and the sides of the screen glow red. Once you “die,” if you repeatedly hit the L1, R1, square, and X, you will recover with what looked like half armor and can continue without missing a beat.

The second type of enemy was equipped with a glowing disc for their weapons; purifying and stealing it gave Enoch a ranged attack that could chain combos for longer than the lightsaber-bat’leth and fisticuffs could.

The more you use a particular weapon, the more its purity will degrade; it will go from bright white, to greyish, to dark, and it looks like as it does so, its damage decreases as well. You can re-purify it by hitting L1.

The demo stops right as you get to the boss and are instructed to steal its weapon, Baal.

El Shaddai looks like a pretty good game; the 2D platforming elements are okay, though the strange color scheme makes it hard to tell at times whether you’re supposed to be able to jump on something (this is particularly true of occasional waves/clouds in the foreground; sometimes you can jump on them, and sometimes you fall to your death). It didn’t seem like there was any real downside to falling into nothingness, though; Enoch just respawned at the most recent checkpoint (he does the same if you fail at button mashing after getting your armor knocked off).

The combat sections are in 3D; this gives you room to run around and dodge the enemies and their attacks, and enough room to get away to repurify your weapon once it becomes unclean again.

I don’t know if I’ll buy it when it comes out here; I know I won’t import it (stupid exchange rate). I may end up waiting and either picking it up used, or hoping it hits the PS3 budget line.

Bottom line: The demo was good, but not good enough to sell me on paying full price.

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