And the award for most beautiful/mental game of the year goes to...
Boasting one of the most preposterous titles in gaming history, El Shaddai: Ascension Of The Metatron is driven by a high-concept plot based on the ancient Jewish religious text 'The Book Of Enoch', brought screaming to life by stylish characters and abstract landscapes. It looks unlike any other action game on the shelves today, and gleefully shirks video-game conventions to offer jaded gamers something fresh and unique.
Unfortunately, from a gameplay perspective, it isnt long before the novelty of El Shaddais madcap visuals and labyrinthine story wears a little thin. Although the swashbuckling action is propelled by fierce combat, interesting weapons that you can snatch from opponents mid-battle, and a huge variety of subtle combos and wild attacks, completing the game is (on easy) is still possible by simply pummelling the 'attack' button, reducing this ambitious actioner to a rather standard hacknslash at times.
El Shaddais storytelling is also a disappointing, the corkscrew tale is punctuated by superfluous characters and confusing explanations of religious events, making the plot almost impossible to follow.
However, for those with the resolve to stick with the game, completion unlocks a new mode that brings a HUD into play, allowing you to get the most out of the combat system and appreciate how using the clever controls where pressing the same attack button in different ways modifies strikes can dramatically improve your performance on the battlefield. It's just a shame that only those willing to put in the effort will truly see the best that El Shaddai has to offer.