Don’t Ask How it’s Pronounced

Don't Ask How it's Pronounced

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

Here’s a story for you. It takes place about 360,000 years ago. Or was it 14,000 years ago? Time is more like a funny suggestion than a law when you’re Lucifel, the right hand of God. It’s hard to say just how long ago this happened, but at the very least, it does involve a certain man. He’s gone by a lot of names, but the one he had when Lucifel first met him was Enoch. By all accounts, he was a pretty good guy. Well, if you’re tasked by the Almighty to hunt down fallen angels before they further corrupt the human race, you’d probably have to be to pull this off. What ensues is a very unique adventure with beautiful art styles, very good music, a solid voice cast, and an intriguing story VERY loosely based on biblical apocrypha.

Released on April 28th, 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron was developed and published by Ignition Entertainment, following Enoch on his centuries long quest to chase the Grigori and bring them back to Heaven. The game is an interesting mix of hack-n-slash action, platforming with some 2D segments, and some puzzles thrown in for a very interesting blend that never seems to make the game boring. Depending on what level the player is in, the art style shifts to reflect that, blending old world aesthetics with modern ones to create intriguing visuals..

The main character of the game is Enoch, a pretty silent fellow (in that he only ever speaks one line) tasked by God to chase after the fallen Grigori and bring them back to Heaven for judgment before the Council of Elders initiate a Flood to wipe the Earth clean. Aiding him are the Archangels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel, who guide Enoch through the multiple pocket dimensions of the Grigori’s Tower and, in the case of Uriel, directly assist him through combat. Perhaps his biggest supporter is Lucifel, who can casually stop time with a snap of his fingers, gives updates to God via cellphone, wears modern designer clothes, acts as the save points, and is voiced by Jason Isaacs. This results in a very suave and charismatic character, fitting for the one who would eventually become THE fallen angel. Along the way, Enoch also encounters Nana, a young girl that has befriended a Nephilim and who is more important than initially thought.

The source of this conflict comes in the form of the Grigori, the seven fallen angels that, after arriving on Earth, have decided to lord over mankind as benevolent rulers, bringing advances in their science, wisdom, and culture, resulting in the masses worshipping them. However, this sort of forced evolution has its downsides, resulting in mankind mindlessly praising the Grigori as they are used to create Nephilim, the children of humans and angels that, once large enough after devouring one another, become the destructive Fire Nephilim that would burn the world to the ground. Each of the seven Grigori, Arakiel, Baraqel, Armaros, Ezekiel, Sariel, Azazel, and Semyaza, rule over their own pocket dimensions that make up the colossal tower they built. They claim to love humanity, and it seems that they truly do, but they don’t really understand what it means to love and just how disastrous their form of love is to humans.

The gameplay follows in the vein of the Devil May Cry series, in which Enoch has access to multiple weapons, performing different combos of light and heavy attacks to juggle his opponents for extended damage and large combos. Enoch is capable of fighting with his bare fists, but they do minimal damage compared to the weapons. Arches are your standard blade-like weapons, Gales are ranged projectiles to keep enemies at bay, and Veils are your powerhouse weapons capable of massive damage and breaking a foe’s guard. Charge attacks, dodging, guarding, and timed hits are also available and vary between which weapon Enoch has at the time. Introduced during the first major boss battle, Uriel lends his aid and unlocks the super mode, dealing more damage and a super move that can be used once before the power up ends.

However, in order to promote diversity in letting players try out all of the weapons, there are a couple of mechanics in place. As Enoch strikes and defeats more and more enemies, the weapon he has equipped will gradually darken, becoming tainted and not as powerful as it originally was. To counteract this, the player will need to “purify” the weapons, returning them to their pristine condition and full power. Some enemies also have their own versions of the three weapons, with some being resistant to one weapon while more vulnerable to the other. Players will need to plan accordingly during an encounter, going after the enemies that are weak to the current weapon and steal the enemy weapons to make your own to fight the others. This keeps a nice flow to the combat, with Enoch trading weapons for the ones he needs to fight the wave of enemies. Even bosses have a weakness to a certain weapon, but you’ll need to find that out quickly before they wipe the floor with you.

One thing that can’t be stressed enough is the art style. This game is beautiful, with some areas as ethereal and otherworldly, some as futuristic and very science fiction driven, and a couple that have a painting-like quality to them. With the dimensional nature of the Grigori’s tower, this is certainly justified and seems to work very well in the game’s favor. The perspective can also flip from a controlled third-person perspective to a side scrolling platforming segment at times. The change could be a little jarring to newcomers at first, but combat is usually limited in these sections, so it doesn’t become that much of a hassle.

It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a follow up to the game relatively soon, despite a number of foreshadowing involving one Belial, the fate of a certain Nephilim, and Lucifel’s more ruthless actions and demeanor. The game didn’t seem like it sold that well, but much like NieR, demand might result in a sequel someday. Until then, for those looking for an interesting take on biblical mythology, a smooth combat system, or stunning visuals (and voice acting that’s actually pretty good), I would definitely recommend giving it a try.