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A Little Bit on El Shaddai’s Developer and Director

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Ignition Tokyo, founded in 2007, is a branch within UTV Ignition Entertainment that developed El Shaddai and interestingly enough, El Shaddai is their first game according to the International Gaming Network. It certainly shows with the game’s originality and creativity which is its strongest feature. Ignition Entertainment has published well known titles like Muramasa: The Demon Blade and various other games for different consoles and handhelds.

Takeyasu Sawaki is the director of El Shaddai in Ignition who is known for being the lead character art designer for Okami and the first Devil May Cry. This was no surprise to me as I played it, seeing similarities that are only positive. In many cases this could be considered a bad case but I digress.

Story

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LKdmChm96A[/youtube]

This is a modern (jeans, cell phones and all), fictional, and somewhat biblical account derived from the the Book of Enoch. It tells of seven fallen angels corrupting mankind and a scribe named Enoch who is sent by God to purify or send them back to Heaven with Lucifel’s help. Grave consequences await man should our heroes fail, including the coming of the second Great Flood.

The story concept has a lot of potential, but I feel that the development of it was El Shaddai’s Achille’s heel. There is a lot of information they could have expanded on from the original tale or not, especially because the game is not very long as it is. I personally did not understand the ending, which created more questions than answers. I felt it was a very simple story even though so much was said and implied that seemed to be ignored. There was a problem, there were hiccups in the hero’s progress, and then it was solved(?). It sounds normal, but suppose I wanted to spoil the ending, I wouldn’t be able to describe it with any kind of sense. I’ll just say I have mixed feelings about a sequel. I want an explanation, but it could also only make things worse.

Characters

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Enoch and Lucifel

Lucifel, the Lucifel we all know but don’t exactly love, joins Enoch in his journey as a save point and is the narrator of the game. It’s interesting he is a Korean pretty boy who speaks to God on his cell phone every time you see him, simply because it’s the opposite of what you would expect from such an infamous figure. Lucifel looks like he’s a club goer and Enoch sports a pair of jeans with his armor which you don’t see in many games. The more damage he takes the less he has on. I found this amusing.

Gameplay and Graphics

In my opinion, they are what make the game. I could go on forever about color choice and creativity. The color black is innovated for use in contrasts with others throughout the game. It works with many other crafty, artistic strategies to create an intriguing and sometimes even abstract environment. The stages are never a disappointment and change almost constantly in color, shape, and structure. This could happen as Enoch is running, walking, or not even doing anything.

Another great aspect of the gameplay is the fact the plane changes back and forth from 2-D to 3-D while keeping Enoch in a third person view. I haven’t seen a game so innovative with its graphics in such a long time, so it was refreshing to experience. Overall it’s no less than visually stunning.

The Battle System and Its Difficulty

El Shaddai has a hack and slash battle system that is difficult at what seems to be random times. Some bosses throughout the game are easy, but the strategy to others can be difficult to find, especially before the discovery of the Veil. It’s a shield that doubles as gauntlets that are overpowered and that I rarely switched out for other weapons. The other two are the Arch, an arrow-like blade, and the Gale which shoots projectiles and is meant for long distance. The latter two weapons make jumping easier and Enoch run at a faster speed but unless you need them for those rare purposes, at least I didn’t find myself using them. Difficulty is important in a game and you’ll find it in El Shaddai, but expect it to come at awkward occurrences.

This video is a good example of the battle system and environment, at least for the start:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owk6VntXfNs&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

Replay Value

The game is a decent length for the type it played out to be and has decent extras like an art gallery and character voice clips you can unlock. From what I have heard so far, they are tidbits to add to the story and possibly elaborate on it. DLC isn’t likely but it certainly is possible. Like many games these days, the replay value is dependent on whether the player wants to collect the little extras and fulfill achievements.

The Audience

This is hard to tell but not everyone will like it, that’s for sure. I appreciate art, creativity, and innovation in the games I play and that seems to be what is emphasized the most. I love El Shaddai’s originality and I can bet money there is no game like it right now. There is no gore or apparent violence so if you’re looking for that, this isn’t where you’ll find it. It isn’t a children’s game either because of its complex storyline and that’s why I agree with the “Teen” rating it has.

The demo is SO important in deciding whether one is going to enjoy the game or not. I know I certainly did.

A Summing Up of the Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good
-Hack and slash battle system but it isn’t noticeably repetitive thanks to the brilliant environment and graphics.
-The environment and graphics. I see colors and images like those in my dreams.
-Original; there is no game like it.
-The art created for El Shaddai is outstanding. I’m waiting for my artbook to come in the mail.

The Bad
-If there is a sequel to be made and it ends up not straightening out the story, not even the graphics and gameplay could save it.
-Difficult at awkward times, but this could vary from player to player.
-Limited audience.

The Ugly
-It’s ending.