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.