For an action game based off of Jewish literature, El Shaddai is pretty alright when played in small intervals. While playing it vanilla isn’t much fun, doctor it up a little (I’ll say how further on) and you’ll have a fun, hypnotic and trippy-as-balls time.
El Shaddai is the story of Enoch and his employment by God to take down seven fallen angels. The entire game follows the structure of any Super Mario Bros. title: Get through the zone, beat the zone boss at the end. It’s nothing new or ground-breaking, and neither is the gameplay itself. There’s platforming and extremely basic combat maneuvers, but the overall experience is identical to playing Tron: Evolution’s campaign. If you’ve ever played Evolution, you’ll understand that’s not a compliment. The platforming is slippery, the combat is overly abundant and generic, and nothing in the actual gameplay stands out. But just as Tron: Evolution was more of a visual experience, so is El Shaddai.
Everything has a Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec art direction, blended with Tron hues. It’s like looking at an ever-expanding water color painting, and it’s really cool overall. Sadly, this doesn’t completely make up for boring gameplay and an overall lack of excitement. So, to compliment the psychedelic visuals, here’s the four step plan to improve your El Shaddai experience:
1.) Buy/Download the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (lots of Tron references today, no?)
2.) Get it in your Xbox while playing El Shaddai
That’s how I managed to get absorbed in El Shaddai, even with the boring gameplay. Get that soundtrack, crank it up, and just mindlessly fight through hordes of generic enemies in a wave of audio-visual splendor. You can go through two hours of the game in one sitting like this, and it makes the otherwise tedium and repetition of El Shaddai a unique and worthwhile endeavor.