El Shaddai PS3 Interview: From Japan With Love

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El Shaddai PS3 Interview: From Japan With Love

As I was waiting for UTV Ignition Entertainment’s Shane Bettenhausen to arrive at SCEA HQ on a recent afternoon, I played through the El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron demo currently available on the PlayStation Store. Co-worker after co-worker popped their head into my office to ask “What is that?” With vibrant colors, buttery-smooth animation, and an uncluttered presentation (no HUD!), El Shaddai is a real head-turner.

The game’s premise is as unusual as its visuals are striking. “This is a retelling of the Book of Enoch, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Ignition Entertainment’s Shane Bettenhausen told me. “It’s not meant to be a complete retelling – we’ve taken some liberties.”

El Shaddai

Liberties such as mobile phones, designer jeans, and a driving level which would be at home in a TRON or Final Fantasy title. Despite the biblical angle, I wouldn’t consider El Shaddai a religious experience any more than I would Bayonetta a treatise on witchcraft. Instead, the source material offers up an interesting story and guides some of the gameplay elements.

“Enoch, as a character in the bible, is immortal,” Bettenhausen told me. “He cannot die. So when you die in this game, you always have the chance to come back to life. If you jam on the four buttons that you use to play the game fast enough, you come back to life. But each time you do that, it gets a little harder, like Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!”

“When you start out, the game is mostly 3D action adventure, and it starts shifting more to a 2D platformer,” Bettenhausen elaborated. “This level is kind of cute, it’s based on these characters called the Nephilim – the unholy offspring of humans and angels. They’re the reason why the world needs to be fixed, because these Nephilim would take over the world.”

El ShaddaiEl Shaddai

A number of PlayStation.Blog readers have asked about the influences and origins of the game’s unique art style, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that the game’s director, Takeyasu Sawaki, was art director on visually arresting games such as Devil May Cry and Okami.

“Enoch is tasked with hunting down seven renegade angels,” Bettenhausen added. “Each of the angels has built a utopia inside the Tower of Babel. So the fact that it didn’t need to make physical sense freed us up from the normal constraints of graphical design. One of Sawaki’s design tenets was that ‘the world should always be changing around you.’ So you see different art styles, different types of gameplay, and you really never know what’s around the next corner.”

Among the differing styles demonstrated for us were platforming, puzzle solving, Devil May Cry-style combat, and the aforementioned racing level – all beautifully rendered in a wide variety of styles. “He drew from lots of interesting artistic inspirations,” Bettenhausen elaborated. “With this game, I think Sawaki designed a new aesthetic. Because there’s so much variety in the levels, and some of the really crazy graphics towards the end of the game are unlike anything I’ve seen. Clearly colors are very important; we feel like a lot of games these days don’t use many colors. The animation was crucial too, and having a really clean frame rate of 60 frames per second is really important because when the combat is all about reading characters animations, reading when to parry, you can’t have slowdown getting in the way of that.”

El Shaddai

Performance issues won’t be an issue for El Shaddai on the PlayStation 3. “Its always 60 FPS on PS3,” Bettenhausen explained, “and the controls just feel better. I always tell people that ‘by far, the lead SKU is PS3.’ It is a Japanese game, and in Japan, PlayStation is just so much more relevant than Xbox. It’s sold more than 10 times as many copies on PS3.”

Another key detail: El Shaddai will allow players to select the game’s original Japanese voiceovers in addition to English voice work. Bettenhausen noted. “We definitely wanted to keep the Japanese voices in because, in Japan, the actors they use are famous anime guys,” Bettenhausen noted. “But I will say that the English voices are the best dub we’ve had yet, and Lucifel, who’s probably the character with the most lines, is voiced by Jason Isaacs from Harry Potter.”

El Shaddai

It’s been reported recently that Ignition’s in-house development studio closed down. But according to Bettenhausen, that news won’t affect El Shaddai’s North American PS3 release this July 26th. “The dev team wrapped up full development at the end of March, and Sawaki has his own company so he was a contractor the whole time. We definitely would like to do future El Shaddai brand extensions, and I would love of course to work with all the guys from the original game on those, but right now… nothing new to announce on El Shaddai. But we’d definitely love to bring all those guys back.”
The final game will be in stores soon, but if you want to get a feel for the striking visuals and fluid gameplay found in El Shaddai right now, check out the demo on the PlayStation Store. And be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

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  • creative art but looks a little old?

  • First! ( i think.) Very cool.

  • No sorry bud your not first try again next time

  • ” western developers are afraid to make” we are?
    “El Shaddai delivers the game play to match its looks” insult or compliment?
    “It’s as if Lady Gaga made a video game” who the [DELETED] are they marketing this at?

    I’m sorry guys, but find better reviews to reference in your trailer. It looks interesting, but those comments alone just make me wonder if this is worth my time. The one about western developers is just silly. Anyway I’ll be keeping an eye on this.

  • Buying El Shaddai and Catherine on day 1

  • Im sold, this looks interesting and new!!

  • @KazeEternal – I’m going to have to agree with you. They lost me at the Lady Gaga comment as well. If that’s a basis for comparison or review, I really question the reviewers. I’ll keep a skeptical eye out.

  • Wow.. Really POOR art direction in this one. All the models in this video reek of poor design. It also looks like they made so many poor visual design choices that they had to resort to toon shading to separate the characters from the background. The animation is atrocious too.

    Hasn’t the industry standards moved PAST this sort of thing by now?

  • Looks great, really liked the demo.

  • Lady Gaga??


  • I’m surprised at how many people are shunning a taste of some a bit more vibrant than the usual bland browns and grays you see in most big name titles these days. I think the art direction is great and I’ll be picking up a copy down the road.

    The only criticism I have; the combat system seem a bit dry from what I got from the demo, none of the weapons had much depth. Still getting it though lol

  • from the title this game is more aking to the kabbala/cabala rather than the apocryphal book of enoch.because incidentally, i read most of the book of enoch yesterday night and it doesnt mention “metatron” which in the kabbala/cabala is the outer consciousness of “god” or a sephirot.because to the kabbalist the deity innermost aka: the “eon sof” lacks personality or conciousness of itself.thats what i have read anyway.pretty weird concept of the deity if you ask me….

    anyways,dont know what to say for the game itself because it looks pretty bizarre to me.is there a demo for this??

  • i tried the game, not really for me. yes i think the concept is cool, but in this day and age the graphics could have been phenomenal and the game could have been a major release

  • Wow, are all of the people knocking the art direction and graphics out of their minds? Yes, one reviewer made a ridiculous Lady Gaga comment. Who cares? It has nothing to do with the game. The combat might not seem very deep at first but there’s a ton of different combos based on button timing. The reviews that I’ve read on this game have all been very positive. I’m getting this game because I need to play something different from the industry standard.

  • ‘morning, Jeff. I played the demo & thought the graphics were beautiful & the game style was so unique. But then it turned into a platformer & that’s all she wrote for me. I deleted Outland, also beautiful & unique, once I saw that. Is El Shaddai mostly platformer or was the demo misleading?

    • There’s a lot of platforming from what I’ve seen. I don’t know the percentage of platforming to fighting across the entire game, but if you’re not down for that style of gameplay, you might not be down for El Shaddai.

  • I think a lot of people need to try the demo rather than simply relying on a trailer. TBH the trailer doesn’t do any justice to the art style, play the demo check out how great everything looks. I’m not so sure how the combat will work or if it gets any more complex but from the demo you can see how it goes from 2D platformer back to 3D hack and slash, and it works.

    Also I knew as soon as I saw the “Lady Gaga” quote that it would be flamed and rightfully so, not the best marketing idea but whatever, if you make your purchasing decisions based on small quotes and trailers it’s your fault they put that in there.

  • I liked but not too much….so I think worth a try.

  • After trying the demo, all I can say is wow!! Very cool and stylish game. Voice acting is good and animations are very smooth. Def purchase for me.

  • Maybe its just the demo I have and its messed up but I have to attack enemies a ridicules amount of times to hurt and kill an enemy. At one point it seemed like I couldn’t kill anything and eventually I quit the game and haven’t returned to it. I didnt mind the game but if combat is not messed up and thats how it is this game is not for me.

  • this game is repetitive only 3 weapons ,not much variety of enemies ,no unlocks
    this game should price 30 as psn game ,dont believe me just look at gameplay walkthrough on youtube

  • Love the demo.

  • A lot of haters here.

    My only problem with this game is how it launches on the same day as Catherine, another must-have eccentric Japanese game!

  • It’s as if lADY GAGA made a game? 1. why would you put that in your trailer? (most gamers know gaga is a tool) and 2. Thank you sony for never saying something that freaking moronic…. only xbox…

  • Great demo. Love the Biblical story and that this game is not afraid to admit it’s in the realm of God with the capital “G”. God invented gaming back in 2600 BC :-P

  • Original Japanese voices! YES! Thank you! I ALWAYS appreciate it when you guys include that.

  • It looks pretty cool.

  • i know this doesn’t belong here but i’m dying to know if the borderlands bundle will be available to non ps+ subscibers?

  • @16 TheHerp80

    Trailers are an advertisement tool intended to spur interest in a title. You can’t fault us for not wanting to take the time and download something then spend time with it if the trailer fails to hook us. I don’t go out of my way to demo a movie if the trailer fails to captivate me. That’s really teh whole point to marketing don’t you think?

    Review comments in a trailer are also a marketing tool and an effective one if the trailer and the comments compliment each other. Who ever queued these comments up either had a limited selection or simply doesn’t know how to do their job.

    there are some good Trailers that use review comments in their trailers including Mass Effect 2, God of War, and many others. These comments will tend to lead people to read said review to find out why they said that about a game and that to can lead to spurred interest. Unfortunately I feel I’m an audience for this game especially with my love of the Xenosaga series and platformers. yet you come at me with those comments and I just don’t know if I should be concerned or turned off by the game entirely.

  • Sharingan_itachi

    Is this a full priced retail game ($60)? Or $40? PSN Game?

  • Wow. So that’s where EGM alum Shane Bettenhausen ended up after the magazine went belly up for the first time, eh?

  • Oh my god, the battle system is SO Okami! I can’t believe this! Oho yes. This is gonna be great.

  • @4 Western developers are scared to make things like this. This is Suda51 which has brought us great games like killer 7 and no more heroes. I think that comment is basically like “stop the cod style gaming fad you tools” which i agree with…

  • Great looking title, very unique. A little to much religious sugar for this atheist’s tea though.

    Okami HD w/ Move support!!!!!

    sorry. lol.

  • I thought it was going to be a PSN Download for $9.99 because that’s all it’s really worth. It’s fun/entertaining however it’s more a PSN style game than a hard copy game. I was going to day one buy this until i heard t was $59.99 and not a psn title.

  • amazing visuals. but I agree with TheHerp80, cant rely on visuals alone… I learned that the hard way on LA Noire. will there be a demo for this game???

  • Been looking forward to this game ever since I heard of it about a year or so back. It is sad though that from what I hear the Japanese UTV development studio behind it has already been dissolved.

  • Yea. wow. It looks interesting, artistic. But the trailer does give mixed messages & confusing marketing tag lines. Imalready Day one purchasing Catherine. might have to wait til I see more on this. Thanks for the info so far.

  • Some of these comments are upsetting. Look, if you’re not into unique games from japan that value things like gameplay and style, go read about Modern Warfare 34 (or whatever number they’re up to now.)

    Personally, I’ll be supporting this with a day 1 purchase. I love Okami and wish it would get an HD re-release on the PS3. And props to Shane for his work in the industry with games like these. It’s definitely worthy of a full-price retail release.

    I also have a question for Shane- I heard rumors last year about an Odin Sphere + Muramasa HD remake pack- any truth to that?

  • The Lady Gaga quote from Xbox mag really does hurt the games image.
    If Lady Gaga made a game with anything religious in it you can guarantee it would be insulting and in very bad taste.
    I hope that for everyone’s sake that was just someone trying to be funny.

  • I tried the demo out before seeing anything about it on the Net, and I was impressed! The graphics are gorgeous and the gameplay is fun. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for it.

  • I want a Man God PSN avatar.

  • Zoryu_of_Setsuna


    + zeeka29may

    It’s a demo dude seriously.

  • It’s obvious that some of these people only likes graphics and some only like a certain genre of game. Try to open your heart more, and think what the developers are trying to do, trying to make and not compare them to another entirely different game and genre.

    Sorry, didn’t mean for it to out a preach…

  • C’mon guys $60 are ye kidding me? When I first heard about this game I was real intrigued. Visuals looked real nice. I thought it was a DL game.

    Then the demo came out and I was a little underwhelmed but still intrigued in buying off psn when it released.

    Then I come to find it’s a $60 full release title?! I’m sorry, the game looks nice and all but definitely NOT worth it at a $60 price tag. It just looks, feels and plays like an expensive psn title. Don’t get me wrong I’m still getting it, just def not for that price.

  • @ lisatsunami

    It’s funny that you should say that about “Outland” because I did the exact same thing. I bought it and played it for a few hours and then deleted it. I may give it a try again at some other time but I didn’t really have too much fun with it. I may give this a try but the combat looks stiff and I certainly won’t pay $59.99 for it. $39.99 at most for me, and that may be pushing it.

  • @43 vza004: you’re right, I should be more “open-hearted” about game types; maybe someday. But there’s only so much gaming time available so for now, will go with what I like. But, as with people, the more variety & uniqueness in gaming, the better for the world.

    @45 skelekey: yup, have thrown my share of gaming $$$ down the toity. But, I may also attempt Outland again some day since PSN keeps downloads seemingly forever. But too many really fun games this year to find the time.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  • To all the doubters all I can say is try them demo. I was seriously doubting this game when I saw the video that was posted, but decided to give the demo a try. In my opinion it is a cool game. So do your self a favor and write the game off download the demo and give this puppy a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

  • I was very impressed by the demo and definitely have an interest in this game. To be honest, though, I thought it was called Cel Shaddai from both the title design and the in game art.

  • Buying this just for the Lady Gaga comment. :D

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