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A quick and simple understanding of El Shaddai - Destructoid


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I'm a student. I'm currently working on my second degree. My past jobs were working at a gym and Urban Outfitters. I love to play guitar, read, listen to music, and watch films. I'm funny and enjoy the arts. I sometimes can ramble on about literature and films. I'm born and breed in New York. I'm easy going and I love fashion. My favorite system is the DS. I constantly shop at Urban Outfitters and Topshop. I really don't know what else to say. Oh yeah, I'm a cool guy!

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Growing up I was never religious. While my mother is a devout Christian, she never once forced her beliefs on me. Because of this, I grew to be a bit sympathetic towards religion. I don't believe in god or angels, but I do find the ďinspiredĒ writings to be truly fascinating from a literature perspective. In other words, I find the stories in the bible to be entertaining. In fact, I hold the belief that the book of Revelations would make for a great blockbuster summer flick -- thatís how I see these writings; from purely an entertainment point of view.

The messages vary from verse to verse, book to book. Debates have been fired from both sides in interpretations of what if right and what is wrong -- Iím interested in none of that. What I am interested in is the romance, the action, the betrayal, the sex, the violence, the imagery. This, my lovely reader, is where El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron comes into play.

The game really doesnít tell you much in terms of characters or story. In fact, the game is pretty ambiguous for the sake of being ambiguous. Random dialogues with names and words youíve never heard of are echoed through every characterís mouth. Nonetheless, that was enough to inspire me to get my hands on the apocryphal Book of Enoch and do a little research of my own. The gameís story, like the art style, is a combination of abstract, crazy, silly, and awe-inspiring moments.

Much talk has been given about the art style in El Shaddai (done by Takeyasu Sawaki; the same man who did Ōkami). While the art style is a big focal point of the game (In fact, the game is worth playing on looks alone), much to my disappointment very little has been said about the story, characters, events, meaning, and overall message (if there is one). Iím not claiming to have all the answers (if any), but I am trying to shed some light to some confusing little facts about this polarizing, yet fascinating gem of a game.

Before I start, I must mention that the Book of Enoch is not biblical canon. Very few churches actually consider it Holy Scripture, itís an apocryphal book. Even with that in mind, there are many references to actually scripture, itís hard not to see this included in canon. It also must be said that, without going to deep into the subject, that many books of the bible were chosen by a committee. In fact, the book of Revelations was almost not included in the bible. Thatís something to keep in mind if youíre a believer. Still, Iím looking at this not from a believerís point of view, but from the eyes of a lover of all things (to me) good story telling.

First, letís take a look of at the title: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. El Shaddai is one of the Judaic names for god. It essentially translates to ďGod AlmightyĒ. "Ascension", from a mystical/spiritual perspective, means when an individual reaches heaven without dying. "Metatron" is essentially an important angel focus on record keeping (It must be noted that the word "metatron" is not mentioned in scripture). This all adds up to our protagonist in the game, Enoch.

Enoch is essentially the perfect human being. So perfect, in fact, that god took him as one of his own and gave him a home in heaven. The game visually gives a nod to the word "metatron" by showing Enoch next to a mountain of books writing, besides that, nothing else is mentioned about what he does or his former life on earth.

The game is essentially a series of random events. You fight bosses many times with no way of winning. Itís there for you to lose. In fact, during the last 40 minutes of the game thereís an optional side-scrolling level. If you miss a platform, the credits start playing backwards with music being sped up to a ridiculous speed. Why is it there? Just to be weird and eccentricÖ Whether there is a meaning or not to everything in the game is irrelevant in the eyes of whoever is playing -- itís about the feeling. The feeling of being in a world youíre not so familiar with, a world that gives you just enough information to draw some sort of abstract conclusion and maybe go out and do some research.

The story is simple; a gang of angels came down to earth and had sex with humans. In the Book of Enoch there are 10 fallen angels in total. The game only focuses on 3, even though 7 are mention in the beginning. The angels sole purpose was to have sex; as a result of this, the Nephilims are born. The Nephilims are giants who turned their backs to the human race and are now causing havoc on earth. Your mission is to bring the angles back to heaven for imprisonment. I do want to add a rather interesting quote by one of the angles in heaven talking to god about the panic happening on earth: You know everything before it happens. You know these things, and what has been done by them, yet you do not tell us what we are supposed to do about it? It is only when this is said that god finally decides to do something about it.

In the game the Nephilims are portrayed as some cuteÖ thing. While they do cause havoc, their physical designs are rather adorable. Even the giant Nephilim boss is cute! This comes to a major point I want to make: comedy. The thing I love most about anime/Japanese developed games is the silly nature of it. While this game is serious for the most part, comedic elements are sprinkled throughout. For instance, you lose a piece of armor every time you get hit, similar to Ghosts ní Goblins. The moment Enoch is naked is the moment one hit will kill him. Enoch, our savoir and holy man, wears designer skinny jeans, and your guide, Lucifer, talks to god on a cellular phone. I welcome the silly additions in that it adds more eccentricity to the already bizarre story.

God tells Enoch to travel to The Tower (this is where the game takes place); this Tower is the home to the fallen angels, each floor represents a different angel and a different art style. The game never looks the same. Each floor is a representation of the angles beliefs and doings in the world. For instance, one floor is literally a Tron inspired world, this floor represents the power of technology humans can achieve, epically with the help of that particular angel. Another is fame, represented by music and a stadium crowd, etc.

Enoch eventually meets a girl named Nanna in the The Tower who was raised by The Freeman; a group who is opposed to the angels doings on earth. She is a blind young girl who helps Enoch on his journey. No information is given on this girl whatsoever. Nanna (Also known as Sin) in Sumerian mythology is the god of the moon. In El Shaddia she helps Enoch on his journey, but also is friends with a Nephilim. Is she good? Is she Bad? Is she helping him out of her own agenda? None of those questions are answered. But as stated in the Book of Enoch, many angels had sex with humans, so she's most likely a Nephilim. Her servitude towards Enoch is impressive, though. At one point in the game, Enoch is frozen (literally and figuratively) and it takes 15 years for him to awaken -- she waits for him the entire time. This 15 year moment is a result of Enoch doubting his mission. This has to be the best part of the entire game.

The music is of interesting note, as well. The Tower has 7 floors, representing a different art style, with a different meaning (love, war, etc). The music is no different. The soundtrack is as diverse as the locales. One second you're listening to techno, the next you're listening a classical orchestrated piece, and so on and so forth. Music plays an important role in that it represents the constant hosh posh of events. The game is silly, and like Asura's Wrath, I champion this silly game for the simple reason that it's silly. I can see how this may upset people, and may even call this game style over substance, but for me, I found it exhilarating.

Everything in this game is essentially a question. Nothing makes much sense, but for me, I actually enjoyed the nonsense delivered. I enjoyed what little "story" and "meaning" there was. I admit, it's not for everyone, and I'm the first to admit that the game is not perfect, but the game does have a certain hold on me that I can't fully explain. What I'm trying to do is expand on some of the things I found interesting. El Shaddai is essentially an archaic platformer - it's very simple, and doesn't offer much variety in gameplay, but even with this fault I still very much enjoyed the game. I still found it fun.

The game is a simple platformer. In fact, itís very similar to the Mario Galaxy games in that every level is an obstacle course. The combat is very simple, not bad as some people will lead you to believe. Itís a brawler; you essentially attack with one button. I donít have much to say about the gameplay. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. It's simple, and for some people the gameplay may be too simple and that can be a deal breaker.

The ending isÖ just there. I have to be honest and say that the game lost steam towards the end and had an unsatisfactory conclusion. But in the end, I really was really touched by this little gem, a game that has gone completely forgotten by the gaming media and gamers alike. I may not have all the answers, but I do think if a game asked me to do some research into it, then it mustíve done something well. Even though I donít fully understand what the whole game is about, or even if the game has any meaning at all is pretty much irrelevant. The experience alone is worth the price of admission. Visuals, music, and a strange story is something I find appealing, even if it's all nonsensical. As long as it has my attention, I'm going to love it.

Sorry about the small font on some of the pictures; I never used an editing program before.
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