After I played Alice: Madness Returns, I came to the conclusion that I needed a break from unique-looking games. There was so much wrong with that game, resulting in nomination of worst game of 2011. It was a terribly flawed action game. The story and characters might have been interesting, but the gameplay dragged the game down, including only ONE [insert bad word here] BOSS! I mean, why can’t action games have an interesting story, a unique and simple combat system, and a wonderful art style? Oh wait, there is a game like that! Its called God of War 3! WAIT WAIT WAIT! That isn’t the right action game to mention. Let’s see, I know there was a game released in 2011 that was like I described. Oh yeah! Its called El Shaddai! Yes, a game that was in a form of limbo for a while coming to America until the almighty Ignition Games decided to grab life by the balls and release this game here on August 16th 2011. It might be a tiny bit odd that this action game is based on Deuterocanonical Book of Enoch, which is a cultural thing that I’ll explain later. It turns out to be a very stylized game with a simple, but easy-to-get-into combat system, a pretty well-paced story, and an amazing art style that makes it one of the best looking games art-wise of 2011. Let’s dive into this somewhat confusing culture mixture of Christian Old Testament and action. and review El Shaddai!
The story is about a man named Enoch, a priest who is sent down to a fake world created by 7 fallen angels. It is his job to go down and send them back to heaven so they can be imprisoned and not have a giant flood take everything out. It’s not a bad story, but it definitely takes a backseat to the gameplay. Though that isn’t a bad thing, there are some interesting elements here and there that keep it from being a totally boring story, but it isn’t fully interesting even though it is told pretty well by your Navi-like comrade, Lucifel. Just be prepared to not fully know what’s going on unless you pay attention or know about the Book of Enoch story.
The gameplay in El Shaddai is an action and platforming heavy game. In the game, you can control 3 kinds of weapons. The first one is a sword-like weapon, the second are these floating projectiles that can be launched with an unlimited number, and thirdly, two large gauntlets. You start out with your hands and feet to defend yourself, but you will need to steal these weapons from the enemies that wield them. At first, this game can come off as a button masher, and there are some elements of button mashing, but you are going to get banged up if you do that. There is always a different situation with a different weapon to use. There might just be 3 weapons, but you will need to use all 3 during the game. The 3 weapons even have secondary abilities that will help during platforming sections, like a air dash, floating down, or having a huge shield to block damage. There is also a spirit you get later in the game that can cause a super attack with whatever weapon you get.
The graphics are beautiful and El Shaddai is definitely the most beautiful game artistic-wise of 2011. Each layer of the tower you go through will have a unique art style added to that floor. It’s just a very gorgeous game, and it’s hard to explain if you don’t see it for yourself. There is just so much work put into the art style and animation that you could tell the developers worked hard on this aspect of the game. The music is also very beautiful, with far eastern themes taking up most of the soundtrack. It’s definitely very beautiful music to compliment a very beautiful game. Voice acting is also well done, but the main hero Enoch voiced by Blake Ritson is mostly silent for a good majority of the game. The only other character I liked was Lucifel, who was voiced by Jason Isaacs. He did a good job with narrating about the world and its history around you.
However, no game is perfect and there are some flaws in this beautiful game. Even though there is strategy to the fighting in the game, it does usually end up being a button masher, which makes the game have a shallow fighting system at times. While I love the art style in the game, it does get in the way because of the built-in camera that is only in one place. Sometimes, the platforming is tedious because of the gorgeous art style gets in the way of knowing what to do. I also found the game to be a little boring. Yeah, the boss fights can be intense, but it’s a very calm game. While I love a calm game like Flower, in this game I’m just a bit bored at times, since all I’m doing is just running from place to place or to the next group of 3 enemies.
While I can’t say this is a stellar game, I do think it’s a good game. I couldn’t recommend this to everyone, but I’d recommend renting it if you want to try it out, since the demo doesn’t do the game justice. However, if you love action games and want a new one to add to the collection, then I would recommend it when the price drops. It’s nice that this game came out here in the states, but I think a little more thought could have gone into this game to make it one of the best games of this year.
This game gets a 7 out of 10