El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Impressions - First Look

We take our first look at this unusual action game developed by one of the artists behind Okami and Devil May Cry.


El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo is in full swing, and although many games are out on the show floor, several more are being shown behind closed doors, including El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. This unusual third-person action game is being developed by Ignition Entertainment, headed up by character designer and artist Takeyasu Sawaki, formerly of Capcom, whose artistic credits include Okami and Devil May Cry.

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El Shaddai is a third-person action game with a biblical theme. In the game, you'll play as Enoch, a heavenly angel tasked with saving the world from the wrath of God himself by descending to Earth and rustling up the souls of fallen angels who have descended from heaven to wreak havoc on mankind. On the off-chance that you happen to be at the E3 event, you'll see posters that depict the game's two main characters outside of the West Hall--the blond-haired young fellow with the frilly, open white shirt (which is actually heavenly armor) is Enoch, while the unassuming brunette fellow in the black shirt and pants is none other than Lucifer himself, though the Prince of Lies has gone modern by getting himself a cellular phone.

We were shown two different trailer videos for the game that depicted its gameplay, which includes third-person exploration and puzzle-solving, third-person melee battles, and even some 2D side-scrolling platform jumping. While little was shown of the exploration aspect of the game, the combat will apparently include both barehanded brawling, as well as melee weapon fighting with an arch--a gigantic, glowing semicircle that looks a bit like a longbow but is used by Enoch as a two-handed sword blade. Mr. Sawaki suggests that more than half of the game will consist of third-person exploration; slightly less than half of the game will focus on combat; and the remainder, about a one-tenth of the game, will be the side-scrolling platformer sequences.

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However, aside from the fact that the game draws upon the Book of Enoch for its story inspiration, El Shaddai will have several other unique features. For starters, it was heavily implied in the game that Lucifer will not only make regular appearances in the game, but that he's also a close personal friend of Enoch and will take direct action to save the blond angel's life (despite the fact that the two are technically not playing on the same team). One segment of the trailer shows a prideful Enoch about to descend from the clouds to face his enemies, equipped with what appears to be the mundane armor of a Roman centurion. A voice asks Enoch whether he thinks his armor is sufficient, to which the angel confidently replies that it's plenty good enough, then descends to the surface below to fight a troupe of masked humanoid enemies (presumably fallen angels) who are all equipped with arches of their own. The scene makes various quick camera cuts that show the fallen ones hacking Enoch's earthly armor to bits, shattering Enoch's earthly sword, and finally making a cut against his breastplate that will surely decapitate him. Suddenly, the scene freezes and Lucifer's voice cuts in behind that last image, muttering something about how he can't allow this to happen. The scene then cuts right back to Enoch standing on the cloud, being asked again whether he feels his armor is sufficient. This time, the angel humbly requests the best armor available and is outfitted in his flowing white clothing and given an arch, and he is shown successfully defeating his foes.

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But perhaps the most striking aspect of El Shaddai is simply the way it looks. While the game is clearly rendered entirely in 3D with various 3D models, it uses a softer version of the now-classic cartoon-style cel-shading technique that made earlier 3D games like Jet Set Radio and Viewtiful Joe look like cartoons in motion. As a matter of fact, in many cases, the game abandons clear-cut textures and even entire swathes of scenery for rows of soft, washed-out, bright colors, which gives the game an eerie, otherworldly look.

According to Mr. Sawaki, the game has been in development for close to three years, though the production should wind down sometime this year.

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