Friday, April 26, 2024

Early Game Review: 'El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron HD'

A fascinating curiosity of mainstream gamedom, "El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron" was one of the only games in memory that embraces mainstream religion. The 2011 release turned heads for its daring content and skillful execution, blending striking visuals with engaging combat and spellbinding storytelling.

While sales may not have delivered any sequels or imitators, the game remained an intriguing relic that became food for think pieces and analysis videos aplenty. 

Now comes an HD remaster, due out April 28, in which Enoch's quest for redemption as he takes on a host of fallen angels in a brutal, somehow poetic hack-and-slash. Originally released on the Xbox 360, before getting a PC release in 2021, the game seems to be an apt fit on the Switch, with its sewing circle of eclectic oddities from every corner of the indieverse, both modern and historical.

If ever there were a game in which you did yourself a disservice by skipping the cut scenes, this was it. The writers explore mainstream and obscure religious texts for the characters and scenarios that populate its story. Told with the steady, shamanistic cadence, the fable unfolds with poignance and emotional urgency. Enoch is striving not only for his own salvation, but that of man. In microcosm, his journey touches the most ancient urges of human storytelling.

Many HD remasters are more successful at showing a game's age rather than updating it, but "El Shaddai" holds up surprisingly well in the gameplay department. Not a moment of my time with the game seemed as though time had passed it by. This game, like the saga represents, is timeless. And it now looks the part as well, whether docked to your HDTV or taking it as a spiritual injection on the go.

Publisher provided review code.

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