El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is the latest blast of Japanese weirdness to arrive on our shores, and it may be the strangest yet.
Let's start with the title: "El Shaddai" translates as "God almighty," while Metatron is a sort of angelic mediator between God and humanity. The game itself is drawn from the Book of Enoch, a bit of Biblical apocrypha.
God has sent Enoch to Earth to retrieve a group of fallen angels, whose fascination with mortals has warped mankind's evolution. Enoch is assisted by Lucifel, a black-clad archangel with a direct cellphone connection to the Almighty.
The distinguishing feature of El Shaddai is its art direction. As Enoch travels through the tower built by the fallen, each level looks radically different. One is a snowy landscape shaded in pastels; the next may be a metal-and-neon cityscape.
And then there's the combat. Enoch and his enemies are limited to three weapons: The arch is a sword, the gale is a projectile weapon, and the veil is a shield that splits into two powerful fists. The weapons work like rock-paper-scissors arch beats veil, which beats gale, which beats arch, so Enoch needs to keep switching weapons to defeat his foes. -- AP
RATING T for Teen
PLOT Bring back the fallen angels.
DETAILS Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $60
BOTTOM LINE Aims high but stumbles