El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON HD Remaster review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Rainy Frog Co/crim
Developer: crim
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

It’s been more than a decade since I played El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON back when it first came out on PS3, but the game stuck with me ever since. Not so much because it was a great game (or even a very good one), but because it was built around one of the crazier premises I’d ever seen in a game: inspired by the apocryphal Book of Enoch (“inspiration” doing a lot of work here) , the game follows the biblical Patriarch on a mission of divine vengeance to rid of Earth of seven fallen angels. And, of course, Lucifer – here called Lucifel – makes an appearance to help you save your progress every now and then.

Was it good? Not particularly, for a host of reasons. Was it memorable, though? Absolutely.

Now the game has returned on Switch and PC at El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON HD Remaster, promising better visuals and some quality of life updates. And as much as I’d like to say that the game has only gotten better with age, and that this remaster should help open people’s eyes to a great lost gem, the truth is it’s still a mediocre game. It’s got that bizarre premise and it undeniably looks great, but it’s really more of an interesting idea than a game worth playing.

This is because the games the problem had in the first place are still in full effect. El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON is built around Devil May Cry-style hack and slash action with a bit of platforming thrown in, and both feel annoyingly clunky. Your attacks feel repetitive and simplistic; while the game may have been heavily influenced by DMC (which makes sense, seeing as it was created by Sawaki Takeyasu, who worked on the first Devil May Cry game) and, to a lesser extent, Bayonetta (which doesn’t have a direct connection to the game, but Takeyasu worked with some of the people who went on to form Platinum Games), the combat isn’t anywhere near as varied or interesting. While some simplicity is nice, in that you don’t have to get the hang of any super-complex combinations, it’s hard to get too enthused about doing the same attacks, more or less, over and over for 10+ hours.

The other big problem is the platforming. When the game is in 3D, it feels awkward and floaty; when the game is 2D, it feels extra clunky. Add in places where you also have to fight while platforming, and it becomes so frustrating that you want to give up.

But it’s impossible to totally dismiss the game because its positives are huge points in its favour. El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON was always a gorgeous game; add in this fresh coat of paint, and it looks even more impressive. The word has an ethereal, dreamlike quality, and no matter how frustrating the game may be to play, you want to keep going so you can see more of it. Add in that crazy story, and you can see why the game became a cult classic with some devoted fans.

But as this new and improved version shows, El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON HD Remaster is still very much a game for a very specific niche. Beautiful visuals and an inventive story can only take you so far; at some point the gameplay needs to be there too, and as you’ll see time and again, that’s not the case here.

Rainy Frog Co/crim provided us with an El Shaddai ASCENSION OF THE METATRON HD Remaster Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Score: 7