El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Review


El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (PlayStation3, Xbox 360)
Reviewed on PlayStation 3
Developer: Ignition Tokyo
Publisher: UTV Ignition
Released: August 16, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Video games are supposed to be fun, right? That’s what I’ve been told all my life, that I’m supposed to enjoy playing video games. Well, a funny thing happened while I was playing El Shaddai: I had no fun whatsoever.

Artistically speaking, El Shaddai is just about unrivaled this generation. It’s a beautiful game, boasting visual and audio design that I was totally smitten with from the start. I wanted so badly to just embrace this game, and I even told some of my co-workers after playing the game for an hour that it was “kind of amazing.”

It was a first impression that wore off quickly.

There’s just no underselling just how beautiful this game is, though. It’s not far off of getting the chance to travel through a series of abstract paintings. At the beginning, it was a thrill to be able to journey through this world.

And the story is interesting enough that it felt close to the complete package in terms of what I want out of a game. El Shaddai is an adaptation of the Hebrew Book of Enoch, which details the fall of a number of angels to Earth and their efforts to rebuild humanity in their own image. In the game, Enoch, the Metatron, is tasked by God to go to Earth from Heaven and retrieve the angels.

Enoch’s journey is a wildly imaginative one, and were it not for one thing, this could have been the game that redeems my generally lame summer of games. That one thing: the game is an utter bore to play.


El Shaddai is a brawler, but the kind of brawler in which you have no combos and you can’t be killed. You’ll walk down a long, extraordinarily beautiful hallway, fight some dudes by pressing square over and over, walk down the hallway some more, then have another fight with dudes that is exactly like your last fight with dudes, and rinse and repeat forever.

And it really does feel like it lasts forever, although it’s not a particularly long game. It’s just sooooooooooooo boring. It kinda makes me pine for the days when I played Final Fantasy XIII, because even though that game was boring I could, like, take a nap during battles.

So what we have here is a game that is basically a pretty girl with no brains. It’s really difficult for me to even talk about this game because my mind was fried trying to get through it. Oh, damn, I just remembered that there’s some platforming in this game. But that’s boring too, mostly. Gah, what a game.

So is it worth it to sit through one of the most boring games I’ve ever played to experience some nice artistic expression? My current cranky mood says no, but, hey, if boring is your thing then El Shaddai will be the greatest game ever for you.

He’ll, if El Shaddai had gameplay that was even remotely compelling, it would be a great game. It would have been a game that we say succeeds in spite of unremarkable gameplay. But it’s ultimately just so dull that nothing it could have done, short of being way shorter, would improve the experience. And so El Shaddai is a game that you must avoid at all costs.

Pros:

  • It’s just beautiful
  • Biblical story is pretty unique in gaming

Cons:

  • It’s just boring
  • You can’t die

Final score: 40/100

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