Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - Reader Review  

The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night...again!
by Shawn Denney

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Less than 20 Hours
+ Female Protagonist
+ Great soundtrack
+ Kicking monster ass is fun
- Divided areas don’t feel as epic
- Weak story
- Departs somewhat from the Metroid-Vania form
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   Once upon a time, a stellar title by the wonderful company Konami came forth on the NES. It was called Castlevania. During this game, you played as Simon Belmont, a bad-ass with a whip who was hell-bent on ripping Dracula limb-from-limb. On the way, you will DESTROY skeletons, fish people (which I believe are called Sahagin’s), Frankenstein, and even death himself. It was so grand, that several sequels were made, with most of them being a standout title for whatever console they appeared on. Then, in 1997, the series got a reboot with the “considered by many the best game ever” Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Since then, all the side-scrolling Castlevania games have followed roughly the same format………until now!

   Order of Ecclesia still has one foot firmly planted in the great formula its predecessors laid out for it, and its second foot venturing into new realms. It takes the multiple area idea used in Portrait of Ruin, and runs with it. The game is now set up into about 10 maybe 15 areas. These areas range in length with some being as short as four rooms, while others a good 25 rooms large. One area in particular is massive, and is the highlight area of the game.

   The battle system in Order of Ecclesia is rather different from the other games in that you equip to “glyphs” to your character and then they use MP to use them. There are actually no weapons in the entire game. These glyphs act as weapons instead. When you are not attacking, your MP will refill, so you have to find a balance between an all-out assault, and dodging enemies to regain attack power. You obtain glyphs by killing an enemy and then absorbing the power they left behind. It is very similar to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow’s soul catching system. However I do have one complaint about the glyph system. You can combine glyphs to create new more powerful moves, but it is not very well explained and just ends up being trial and error. A better tutorial or hint system would have really helped the glyph combining.

Showing this water woman who’s boss Showing this water woman who’s boss

   Castlevania has ALWAYS had stellar music. It constantly has what I consider the best music in video games. While Order of Ecclesia isn’t the best soundtrack in the series, it is still a feast for the ears. There is voice work in the game, though it is nothing special. It does what it needs to without offending, so it deserves some credit, but it doesn’t offer any standout performances. The entire sound package is nice enough that you will want to listen to your DS, even with its less than outstanding speakers. THAT is an accomplishment!

   Castlvania’s story has never been it's stand out feature. Every title in the series can be summed up in one sentence. “Dracula bad, kill his ass”. That is pretty much the entire setting, and story. Every time, they try to add more by a few lines of dialogue and an undertone that something else is going on, but in the end, none of it matters. Two things are remembered about Castlevania. It has solid game play, and it has solid game play. Yeah, and did I mention it has solid game play?

   This game is pretty. Seriously, it has some awesome graphics going on! Plus, I love the intro movie. Classic Castlevania tune remixed while a very artistic visual novel is happening. Hell yes! If every game looked this good, I would be a very happy man. Its games like this that make me wonder why the world of video games ever moved on to 3-D.

Feel my skeleton destroying awesomeness Feel my skeleton destroying awesomeness

   Now then, there is something you should know about this game. You will die! The difficulty from past Castlevania games has been ramped way up. There was one point in the game where I honestly thought that I wasn’t supposed to come to this area for at least 3 more boss fights; It was that difficult. Then I come to the boss of said area only to get brutally murdered time and time again. Frustrating, oh yes. Worth it when I finally felled the creature? Damn straight! The ramp up in difficulty is a nice addition to the game, and the Castlevania franchise in general (even though the old NES ones were plenty difficult themselves).

   Order of Ecclesia is not the longest game out there. In fact, for RPG standards its flat out short. However, for a side-scroller it is a pretty long game. It also has incentive to replay the game and lots of unlock able features. One such feature which is rather addictive is the boss rush mode. It’s always so much fun to kick Giant monster ass one after another!

   Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is different from its predecessors. It place a much bigger emphasis on stage progression as compared to the Metroid-Vania form. It also introduces a completely new combat system with seemingly endless possibilities. It’s a good game and lives of to the legacy its name implies.

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