Published on May 4th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Review

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Review Gareth Newnham

Summary: A miraculous HD remaster of a criminally overlooked cult classic.


Religious experience

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is the kind of creator-driven adventure that major publishers seem loathe to fund these days. Which is why it’s great to see it given a new lease of life on modern consoles,

A criminally overlooked biblical brawler based on the apocryphal book of Enoch, directed by former Clover Studios character designer Sawaki Takeyasu, El Shaddai sees players take on the role of the angelic scribe Enoch, who has been sent on a mission from God to capture seven renegade angels.


With help from his friend Lucifel.(Yes, that one: Played by Jason Isaacs, giving off serious Crawley from Good Omens VIbes) and clad in the finest armour (and jeans) heaven could create, Enoch sets out on an adventure spanning millennia to ascend a holy tower, defeat the nephilim housed within and send the angels packing lest God take matters into his own hands and cause a great flood to wash the whole sordid business away.

Using a combination of his bare fists and weapons stolen by the unfortunate mortals who get in his way, El Shaddai is a visually resplendent brawler. It presents a unique take on the spectacle fighter genre with combat that’s somewhere between Devil May Cry, No More Heroes, and Rock, Paper Scissors.

With no HUD elements, instead, health is linked to how banged up your armor gets, and you get a feeling of how close enemies are to death by how close they are to fighting in nothing but their skivvies. What makes Shaddai shine, though, is not only its incredibly beautiful yet stark presentation but the way in which combat is mostly contained to a single button press with great dazzling combos and devastating finishers can all be performed by just tapping or holding the main attack button.

A large part of each fight is about finding the right tool for the job, as Enoch has the ability to steal weapons from foes after stunning them. There are three to choose from, including the close-range, jack-of-all-trades arch, the increasingly devastating long-range firepower of the gale, and the slow but hard-hitting veil gauntlets.

Some weapons work better against others as well, so each fight becomes a back-and-forth between figuring out the best order to fight each mob of enemies while ending the fight with your favourite weapon equipped for the next.

I may have mentioned this previously, but El Shaddai is absolutely gorgeous. It was back in 2011, and it looks even better on the Switch. It is incredibly fluid to boot, rarely dropping a frame from its 60fps target.

It really is a poster child for style being far more enduring than pure pixel pushing. Like Killer 7 and Wind Waker before it, El Shaddai’s stylised characters and world continue to shine through more than a decade after its initial release due to clever visual design and Takeyasu’s superb character design and almost impressionistic style that feels like a cross between the abstract virtual worlds of Rez, and a literal stain glass window. The film buff in me wants to call it Jodorowsky’s Devil May Cry, and it’s a fairly apt comparison, although maybe not quite as violent.

The only downfall of the game’s impressive presentation and fixed camera is that platforming sections can become frustrating as the perspective can mess with your depth perception, which often sees Enoch tumble into the abyss on what may appear to be fairly simple leaps. My advice is to pay attention to Enoch’s Shadow, as it gives a better indication of where he is likely to land. It’s a pain but by no means a deal breaker.

Final Thoughts

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is one of those increasingly rare artistic achievements in the world of games that shows what can be achieved when its creators are left to make the game they want, as opposed to one dictated by a publisher and a panel of market researchers.

Rife with surreal religious symbolism, memorable set pieces, and surprisingly solid combat mechanics, El Shaddai is one cult classic that deserves a second shot at success.

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