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“El Shaddai” lets you beat the holy heck out of the heavenly host

“El Shaddai” lets you beat the holy heck out of the heavenly host  (photo)

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Video games have gone to rarefied places for inspiration before. There was that 8-bit “Great Gatsby” game a few months back and Electronic Arts put out a game inspired by “Dante’s Inferno” some years ago. Celestial folklore from Japanese mythology has inspired such great games as “Otogi” and “Okami.” Nevertheless, it’s still rare that you get something that draws on the Judeo-Christian tradition like “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” does

Just released by Ignition, “El Shaddai” recasts the Book of Enoch as a playable experience. The text in question is an apocryphal one for most Jewish and Christian faiths, with the exception of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches. There’s some bits of canonical Old Testament stories that wind up I the game, as well.

In the plot of “El Shaddai,” as in the Book of Enoch, angels tasked with watching over humans mate with mortals. This transgression produces monstrous abominations called Nepheleim, which understandably ticks off the Almighty. God’s right-hand seraph Luciphel suggests that to God that one lone, just human named Enoch venture forth in His name and defeat the angels. (Luciphel experiences his own fall later, complete with a slight name change) After a journey to the Tower of Babel, Enoch enters the blasphemous structure to find seven of the main Grigori, those fallen angels who’ve done ungodly things, have created their own worlds. They think they can do better than the Big Guy and Enoch has to deliver the message that they can’t via a God-mandated ass-whupping.

The vision of biblical myth delivered by “El Shaddai” is minimalist, slick and cool in the most modern-day sense. Luciphel nurtures a taste for designer jeans and rings up the Creator on his cell phone. It’s the visuals that make this game sing and they vary greatly with each of the seven fallen angels’ realms. One minute, you’re in a barren, haunting landscape and then you’re jumping into the dizzying chaos of a would-be nightclub. Despite the but comes off as painterly throughout.

The mechanics are spare, too, with a single combat system that unleashes different combos based on the rhythm of your taps. Enoch uses the same weapons that his angelic enemies do and they get defiled with use, so you need to purify them by blasting them clean with white light. It’s a very sacramental idea but one with gameplay function, too. You’re vulnerable to attack while purifying and might think better of trying out different weapons if they’re available.

However, you’re not going to win every battle in “El Shaddai” and death gets handled in a different way than in most video games. You can repeatedly come back from a killing blow, provided you press the appropriate button fast enough to revive Enoch. You’re not always going to resurrect but you’re always going to try.

“El Shaddai” stands out for trying something different. It’s not without flaw–certain parts feel like you’re just meandering through pretty environments–but still manages to create a feeling that’s all its own.

If you’ve gotten “El Shaddai,” do you think it’s heavenly or hellish? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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