Reviews: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia


Don’t let the sun rise just yet, this night is just too much fun.
by Smeags

When it comes to the Castlevania series, it has been tested and proven time and time again. Well, at least when it comes to the 2D stage, Castlevania is a series worth noting for its overall polish and quality. We’ve already seen two titles come to the DS without a problem, both quality additions that continue the great legacy. Still, one could argue that while they were fantastic games, they offered little when it came to straying off the Metroid-vania path. With Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, we have a title that not only continues the great tradition of the series, but innovates in ways that make hunting those ghoulies and ghosties a refreshing and wonderful experience.

 

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia starts out with our protagonist Shanoa. Her goal, and the main goal of the Order, is to harness the power of the glyph Dominous to restore order to the world. However, plans go awry when Shanoa’s ally Albus steals not only the powerful glyph, but her memories as well. After the incident, Shanoa is ordered to retrieve Dominous from the rogue Albus and use the power to defeat the evil at hand. Like other Castlevania titles, the story more or less takes a backseat to the excellent gameplay elements. However, the story is still an enjoyable and worthy addition to the game. You’ll grow to really enjoy Shanoa along the adventure and see her as a unique and worthy addition to the ever expanding cast of Castlevania.

Let’s get to one of Order of Ecclesia’s strongest points: this my friends is a beautiful game. It’s just amazing to see everything come together to portray an awe inspiring canvas of sprites. Every area is uniquely beautiful with amazing art direction. You’ll see many new and creative enemies, each one with that attention to detail that Castlevania is so famous for. On another note worth mentioning, Order of Ecclesia has abandoned the anime inspired character art from the previous two DS games in favor of a much more appropriate gothic art style, and It’s all just a complete package when it comes to the beauty of this game. When it comes to the DS, you won’t find a more beautiful game. Period.

Ever since Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation, 2D Castlevania has taken an approach under Koji Igarashi that has become known as Metroid-vania. While every title afterwards has been a well founded addition, some have been wary about the lack of innovation and overall freshness. With Order of Ecclesia, Iga has found a flawless balance of classic Castlevanias and the Metroid-vania he has perfected over the years. The levels either contain straightforward action or labyrinth adventuring, and it’s all extremely compelling. If you’re tired of battling the baddies and saving the world, you could always help out the different villagers with a variety of side quests. There’s so much to do and see, to the point where you’ll lose track of time as you battle from dawn to dusk (I know I did).

Here’s another point I’d like to get to: this is one tough game. If the baddies don’t get you, the bosses definitely will. And sooner or later, you’ll actually get to the point where you pray that going into the next room will yeild a highly sought after save point. The good news is that beating the difficult bosses and baddies is more about exploiting their patterns and using a working glyph strategy. That’s right folks, it’s a lot more than constant level grinding (although you could do that as well…). Yet it’s so satisfying when you find yourself able to take advantage of your enemies to the point where you don’t have to fear them anymore. Its old school in substance, new school in style, and it’s a blast to play.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a wonderful game in every sense of the word. It’s one of those titles that come out and challenge how high you think a series can rise. With gorgeous graphics, a soundtrack worthy of the series, and classic gameplay made fresh once again, Order of Ecclesia is a shining example of what you can accomplish on the DS. Buy it, fall in love with it, and experience a series reborn. The dawn is here, and it has surely vanquished the darkness.

+ You won’t find a prettier title on the DS. Period.
+ It’s old school game play made fresh by new school style. Always satisfying.
+ A beautiful and haunting soundtrack. Make good use of those headphones.

- There could still be more offered when it comes to online.
- Might be too hard for those not willing to put up a fight.
- The game has to end. Pity.