A destruction shall take place of the Watchers and the impious.

There are some games that live rent free in my head for one reason or another. I remember the first time I played El Shaddai. It was at a PAX event before its release and I was enamored at the style, the design, it was all unique and felt like nothing else I had ever played. Ever since then I have made it a point to recommend it to everyone as it never really got the traction a lot of action titles did during that time. That is a shame as I still have not seen anything like it since. Now new players (at least on PC and Switch) have the opportunity to revisit this hidden gem. While it doesn’t exactly deliver on its ‘HD’ moniker, this is still a game that should not be missed.

El Shaddai is a unique game, but its roots can be traced back to the masters of action. During the Gamecube era most people likely remember Clover Studios. They were responsible for some of the most interesting titles of that era including Okami and Viewtiful Joe. Once that studio splintered the more familiar names such as Mikami and Kamiya went on to form Platinum Games, while the creator of El Shaddai, Sawaki Takeyasu went on to create his own freelance studio known as Crim.

MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Price I’d Pay: $29.99

One of the most interesting things about El Shaddai is what it is based on. You can’t tell by looking at it, but this story is actually based on the Book of Enoch, which is an ancient religious text dealing with fallen angels, demon creation, and it is all based around a character named Enoch, who is the son of Noah. Everyone knows about Noah and the Ark, but this story dives deep into one of his children and their journey to deal with fallen angels. It really is interesting their take on the lore, and the fact that you save the game with Lucifel is truly unique. Also, he wears jeans.

So the story follows Enoch as we mentioned. He is tasked with recovering seven fallen angels or else God will flood the Earth. The catch is that the angels have no interest in being recovered, and instead have been creating Nephilims to wreak havoc. Enoch must traverse through a series of beautifully designed levels with some deceptively simple combat. Everything here delivers a familiar scenario with the flare one would expect from the pedigree of developers working on it. They don’t make games like this often, and the experience is unique from beginning to end.

The combat is simple in design with only a couple attack buttons and a handful of weapons. It is built on a timing system, so for example mashing one button will do a string, but delay the second attack or hold it, and it becomes a new combo. Weapons also mix it up with close and long range. Some enemies are weaker to certain styles, and you can even steal weapons from enemies to mix it up. It is easy to pick up and difficult to master. Most importantly though, is that it is a blast to play. The bosses are also interesting, and each one has a visual flare that really fits the design of their levels.

So, the big question is what has changed here. Well to be honest, not a lot. For reference I booted up my 360 copy of the game for comparison. While it is marketed as HD, I didn’t see a huge leap in visuals between the two. Now when it comes to framerate, this game was a weird anomaly back in the day. The PS3 version was actually 60fps, while 360 never quite hit that. This Switch version does in fact feature a 60fps mode, but it doesn’t always quite hit that mark. There are times when it feels as slow as the 360 version. I am not a frame counter, but just swapping back and forth between the two, this doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade other than being readily available, as well as finally on a Nintendo console.

El Shaddai is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. If you never had a chance to check it out, it is now available on Switch and PC, or you can dig up a copy on 360 or PS3, but the main point is, you should play it. It just oozes creativity and some of the best art design in a game. I was excited for each new area, the combat, while repetitive, is fun, and it has a story that remains interesting throughout. Find a way to play this game, it is more than worth the price of admission.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Gorgeous level design
  • Story is outstanding
  • Combat is simple and fun
  • Nothing quite like it
  • Combat can get repetitive at times
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.