|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: UTV Ignition Entertainment|
|Pub: UTV Ignition Entertainment|
|Release: August 16, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
As you fight with weapons, they slowly become corrupt, which makes them do less and less damage as time goes on. Enoch can take a second to purify his weapon, but doing this leaves him open to attacks. Frankly, this is just tedious. Enemies are slow enough that Enoch always has enough room to take a breather; if he doesn't, he's pretty much fated to die anyway. If a weapon becomes corrupt enough, it does next to no damage, so you'll frequently end up finding yourself breaking a rhythm of perfectly enjoyable button-mashing just to make sure your weapon is clean.
There is no HUD in the game, and this is downright infuriating. You have to judge the purity of your weapon by its color, and you judge the health of Enoch and his enemies by the amount of clothes they are wearing. Yes, attacking enemies or getting attacked makes pieces of your clothing shatter, leaving Enoch in nothing but a pair of tight jeans. While Enoch's super bishonen blonde hair and chiseled pecs may be enough to make girls squee, a health bar would have been a lot more practical.
There are tons of other poor design decisions littered around El Shaddai as well. For example, there is a depressingly high amount of frustrating jumping puzzles in levels that are abstract enough to warp the definitions of up and down. To revive yourself once you die, you need to mash buttons, but you never really know when to start mashing or how mashing even helps. It honestly feels like the game arbitrarily chooses when to throw a "game over" in your face.
There are points when the game randomly switches up the game type on you. You'll find yourself suddenly placed in 2D platforming levels, or even racing segments, and this would feel innovative if the controls were good enough to allow for multiple game types. Instead, we have a clunky control scheme that causes cheap deaths, which amounts to untold amounts of player frustration. To top it all off, the game is only about ten hours long, which makes its sixty-dollar price tag feel more than a little excessive.
Frankly, I don't know whether I like El Shaddai or not. I like about a half of it, and I dislike the other half. I like it as an art piece and I dislike it as a game. Heck, I'd say that its actually much more fun to watch than it is to play. I commend the game for raising the artistic bar, but I think it serves as a good warning to developers everywhere. Games should be art, but that only works if you have a game to start with. That being said, El Shaddai is enjoyable and I would actually recommend suffering through the frustrating jumping puzzles and bland combat mechanics just so you can experience the artful design. And that is probably the only time I will ever recommend doing that in my entire career as a video game journalist.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer