El Shaddai is based on the Bible or – to be exact – the Book of Enoch, an obscure biblical text rarely seen in Bibles outside Ethiopia or Eritrea. Now we can’t claim to be familiar with the original text, but we very much doubt it involved holy warriors fighting giant armoured pigs. Or archangels chatting to God on mobile phones. Or little girls riding on the heads of Nephilim that look like Tony Hart creations.
Regardless, in El Shaddai you play Enoch, a holy warrior out to defeat fallen angels who are breeding with humans to spawn Nephilim that threaten to devour the world.
And it would be a shame if that happened because El Shaddai’s world is a beautiful visual feast that rarely sticks to one style for long. There are ethereal stairways that look like artist sketches, techno tunnels that wouldn’t look out of place in Tron, ornate stained glass walls and landscapes that seem to be built out of milky glass.
All of this is set to an ethereal soundtrack mixing religious music with modern flourishes, a sonic landscape to match the exquisite aesthetic.
As a game El Shaddai is a more predictable, combining button-mashing combat and platform jumping. While the constant stream of opponents can get repetitive, the combat is feisty, elegant and simple to grasp while remaining nuanced enough to allow players to benefit from honing their skills.
The platforming is less successful. In the 2D levels it works fine but in the 3D segments it proves a pain as Enoch tends to falls to his doom if he lands on the edges of a platform rather than the middle.
Its action might not match the audio-visual magic, but El Shaddai is still fun and just the ticket for anyone in need of a refreshing break from gaming norms.