So if you have any stake in video games, then you know that E3 is going to be crashing full force into your life pretty damn soon; all kinds of hot news, previews, and announcements. So to give you a little warm up before the big event, the kind folks at Bender/Helper Impact had yours truly over to show off the demo for the highly anticipated El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. If you haven't seen or heard of El Shaddai, you owe it to yourself to trek over to YouTube. Headed by Sawaki Takeyasu of Devil May Cry fame and Masato Kimura of Okami and Viewtiful Joe lore, El Shaddai tells the tale of Enoch, a man chosen by Lucifel (Lucifer before he falls) and God to bring back seven Fallen Angels and prevent the great flood ordered by God.
Visually this game is stunning. It's super clean with absolutely no HUD like Dead Space or one of my personal favorites, Mirror's Edge. The actual characters and settings are heavily stylized, but in very different ways. The character models reminded me of all of the Smiths in Killer7 with their cel-shaded models, but realistic palettes. Jet Set Radio Future this is not. The stages, however, looked much more surreal and dream like, with heavy use of shadow and rack focus.
Stages will change game play from section to section. Some are 3D, standard 3rd person action like Devil May Cry (DMC). Then in the next section, you get to play a completely side scrolling area with all kinds of jumps and timing challenges. Oh, and the story centers around the Tower of Babel that the seven Fallen Angels are hiding out in. just FYI.
Fighting is pretty standard DMC, 3rd person stuff. There are 3 weapons in the game. Their names escape me right now, but it basically breaks down like this: the blade that is on the cover of the game, projectiles that look like arrows and huge gauntlets with halos over the knuckles. What makes the fighting interesting is the fact that weapons need to be "purified" after use. Weapons become "corrupted" after being used which makes them weaker. If they're not purified, then they can become so weak that Enoch will not be able to kill enemies.
Along with the different weapons there is a block, parry, and dash to use during fights. If you take enough hits your guard can be broken, but what's really fun is that the dash changes depending on the weapon you have equipped. Oh, and did I mention that you can only have one weapon at a time? Yeah, no Bag of Holding shenanigans here; what you see is all you can use. But don't let that take the wind out your sails because if you encounter an enemy with a different weapon, all you have to do is beat the snot out of them and then you can take it.
Fighting controls are again very DMC, but simplified. There is only one attack button and only by varying the timing can you create different combos. The camera during all game play is auto controlled and does a pretty good job of not getting in your way or have you walk off an edge accidently.
Even dying El Shaddai has been made interesting. When you do get your face rocked, and you will, you have to mash the controller before the eyes of the camera completely close on screen. If you're successful then you just keep playing. If not, then game over. And every time you cheat death and a game over, it becomes a little harder the next time to do it again.
So there you have it, Ignition's El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is shaping up to be a very interesting take on a very non-Japanese subject. I'm looking forward to it and so should you. Release date so far is this summer, unless you want to import it right now.