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Biblically-Inspired El Shaddai Getting a Spiritual Sequel

I was pleasantly surprised when scanning through some gaming news that a hidden gem I’d rented a while back was getting a spiritual sequel.  El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron was a very trippy yet intriguing game I reviewed all the way back in 2011.  Although overall I felt the game was only average, mostly due to a confusing plot & some repetitive combat, the sheer spectacle & uniqueness of the game was such that I kinda feel everyone should play it.  It’s just so weirdly compelling.  For one, it has such a striking visual style that I adore.  For as much as people ramble about better graphics, you have to admit most modern games tend to look the same when they all go for the super-realistic look.  Not that that’s a bad thing… but games like El Shaddai demonstrate beautifully how sometimes having a unique style can be better than just graphical fidelity.

Secondly, not only were the graphics unique, but the gameplay could be varied at times, or at least the settings.  One level you’d be running around a stained glass backdrop, the next you’d be in a mecha punch-em-up, then you’d be fighting off corrupted angels while a pop idol tries to block your view by mugging the camera.  It was weird, usually in the right ways.

Sadly, the plot was rather incoherent at times.  El Shaddai was based on (or perhaps a better term in inspired by) the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal gospel, meaning one that wasn’t deemed fit to be in the official Christian Bible.  The most I know about the Book is what I’ve gleaned off the Wikipedia page.  In the game, however, the story is that Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah (from the flood), works as a scribe for God & is given visions of God’s plan to flood the earth due to angels rebelling & falling to earth to lead Man astray.  Thus Enoch is tasked with purifying (ie. killing) these angels.  There’s also some subplot about the Nephilim being offspring of angels & humans, & them being cursed to consume the world, & some girl that’s important… but it’s all a bit confusing.  Lucifer is there to help, pre-fall I assume, & even though it’s supposed to be ancient times there are cellphones & mecha & TVs… It’s the most liberal of liberal interpretations.

Despite El Shaddai receiving a generally positive reception, I’ve never heard anyone else talk about the game, so it came as a surprise when Famitsu ran the story that the developer, Takeyasu Sawaki (lead designer on Devil May Cry & Okami), would be releasing a spiritual successor to the title this summer.  Not much is known yet about this upcoming The Lost Child, but in the article it’s reported that the game is set in the same universe as El Shaddai.  We’ll also get some returning characters, like Lucifer.  Maybe he’ll finally turn out to be evil.

We do know a general sense of the plot.  The plot will follow Hayato Ibuki, a magazine writer covering a story about a person who committed suicide by jumping in front of a train at Shinjuku Station.  During his investigation, he’s pushed onto the tracks by a black shadow, only to be rescued by a woman named Barcia.  From this incident, Hayato gains the ability to fight against angels & demons to aid him in his investigations.  Another known aspect is that, whereas El Shaddai was an action hack-and-slash, The Lost Child will be a turn-based RPG.

Between the settings & combat, The Lost Child sounds like it might be similar to recent Persona games, but with less Japanese school children.  One article I read stated Hayato would be able to “capture & train” the angels & demons, most likely to use them to aid in future combat, similar to how Personas work.

For those curious, you can view the original Famitsu article & teaser trailer here, but you’d better be able to read Japanese.  The Lost Child is slated to come out in Japan on PS4 & PSVita this summer, so hopefully we’ll be getting a look at this spectacular, if confusingly esoteric title soon.

– GamerDame

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New Footage Suggests Andromeda is a Classless Game

With the newly announced release date for Mass Effect: Andromeda (March 21 of this year), BioWare has been steadily giving gamers more information about the latest in the franchise.  Yesterday, during the first day of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, BioWare promoted gameplay footage of Andromeda showing off the tech & combat skills.  What caught my interest, in particular, was footage showing that, while not doing away with the previous classes entirely, it doesn’t appear that our Ryder is bound by classes.

In the gameplay footage, it shows that gamers will be able to switch between seven different “profiles.”  Rather than players having to pick a specific class at the start & being relegated to that set of skills for the duration of their game, they can switch between all the classes & upgrade the abilities & skills for each class individually.  I actually heard this mentioned during a developer commentary of the last footage, where they stated Ryder would have access to both tech and biotic abilities.  I had assumed at the time that this meant no distinctive classes but rather you upgrade whatever skills you want, similar to something like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning‘s system.

It would seem that each profile has a unique set of perks & abilities.  In the footage, we see both the Soldier & Engineer profiles.  The Soldier profile shows bonuses to weapon damage, accuracy, clip size, & damage protection.  It also shows a perk called Marksman’s Focus, where you gain a damage bonus for “every target killed in a short time.”  The Engineer profile grants bonuses to “tech construct” stats & combo damage.  It’s special perk is creating a drone that decreases the recharge time on your tech abilities & can damage enemies when it explodes.  We only get to see the skills for the Engineer, which shows both some old familiars like Overload & Incinerate, but new ones, like Flamethrower.  The footage also demonstrated that upgrading these abilities will work similar to Mass Effect 3, where the first three levels are standard upgrades, but from 4-6 you get a choice of two distinct upgrades per level, such as a damage upgrade versus a duration upgrade.  Upgrading these abilities also increases your rank in each class, likely improving their specific bonuses.

The footage shows the six classes from the previous games, as well as one new one, titled “Explorer.”  We don’t get to see this class, but I would guess it grants bonuses that help when Ryder is exploring new planets, such as improving resistance to potential environmental hazards or more resources.

Interestingly, there appears to be an in-game reason for this ability to change classes.  In the Engineer profile, it reads “This Profile reconfigures Ryder’s implant…”  This sounds to like the Pathfinders were implanted with experimental, cutting-edge tech that allows them to switch classes as needed.  From a narrative perspective, this would make sense, given that the Pathfinders are meant to act as “elite soldier, scientist, & guide.”  For people who are expected to lead the search for habitable worlds, this would be a useful ability to improve their chances of success in unpredictable situations.

There are still unanswered questions with this new information.  Specifically, it doesn’t show if players will be able to change profiles on the fly, or if it’ll be limited, such as in previous games when you could only switch squadmates at terminals or upon exiting your ship.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this change.  I guess it all depends on how smoothly it’s implemented.  It doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing.  You can probably ignore any classes or abilities you don’t like.  It also probably means that there are more unique abilities & skills.  In the first three Mass Effect games, there was some overlap in the skills.  Each class had some unique abilities, but they also shared some.  For example, I always played as an Infiltrator, which granted me bonuses to the sniper rifle, but also a Tactical Cloak in later games.  It also gave me abilities like AI Hacking & Sabotage, which were shared with the Engineer class.  However, if players can change whenever they want, this may mean there’s less, or perhaps even no, overlap.  Each class may have its own abilities.  It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have you spend upgrades on the same skill twice, although there might be value in upgrading a skill differently for each class.

Be on the lookout for more updates as they catch my interest.

– GamerDame

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