ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is another entry in the emerging 2D Souls-like Metroidvania combination genre. It treads on that particular vibe the Souls series possesses, that feeling of getting lost in a dark fantasy world where danger lies behind every corner.
ENDER LILIES begins with a child priestess named Lily who awakens from her deep slumber. She has amnesia (as all great protagonists do) and cannot remember the great tragedy that befell the land. With nowhere else to go, Lily decides to travel across the land with the spirit of a knight in order to figure out what has happened during her slumber.
A dark rain had fallen upon the kingdom corrupting everything it touched with Blight. Priestesses fought back against the Blighted, but they must have failed as monsters now roam the land. Lily travels alone through the infested ruins of what was once her home, her only companions being the floating orbs of spirits who come to her aid. Letters and notes containing snippets of backstory can be collected while exploring.
Land’s End is swarming with aggressive corrupted monstrosities. Instead of wielding a weapon, Lily can command certain souls to fight on her behalf, such as the Knight. As you progress and purify souls, you obtain more abilities to equip to suit your playstyle. Souls equipped as main skills comprise your basic attack combo. Sub skills range from ranged attacks, summonable companions, and other combo-able attacks with a limited number of uses between rests. Souls and accessories can only be changed at benches, which serve as save and fast travel points. Souls can be upgraded if you find the necessary resources while exploring.
Abilities were a bit difficult to smoothly chain together, but that might be my slow reflexes talking. I preferred the ranged sub skills to wail on enemies from afar and used the Knight to slice up any monsters that got too close. A summoner at heart, I love being able to call on allies to aid me in games. I became fond of the bird soul companion and hope there are more passive allies to find in the full game.
Lily is not completely helpless, however. While she cannot attack on her own, she sure can platform! Lily can jump and climb up ledges, although it was hard to gauge what was a reachable ledges at times. She is not a sitting target in combat either. Instead of rolling, Lily does a cute dolphin dive to the floor to move through enemies or dodge attacks.
Exploration is done Metroidvania style with a map comprising of interconnected rooms. I did find the map itself to be confusing as it only shows room blocks connected by lines. As a result, it was difficult to tell exactly what part of a room I hadn’t yet explored and where I was within that room. Exits have their approximate locations marked and the map room changes color to indicate if all secrets have been found.
ENDER LILIES is quite a sight to behold. The 2D art is both haunting and gorgeous. A lot of care was put into these backgrounds and it really brings the world to life. Lily’s purity is instantly clear as she is a white, glowing presence that contrasts heavily with the darkness of the world.
The music by Mili builds on this atmosphere with soul-stirring melodies. The main menu’s grim piano melody gave me a haunting chill upon booting the game. My favorite song was a sad, yet hopeful tune with a soft female voice humming and sighing along to it, which I assumed was Lily herself. I found myself humming along and could really feel the her loneliness in this place. The sound design is also on point with simple things, like the falling rain, immersing me in the world.
This is shaping up to be a fine, depressing game…in a good way! The story was not super prominent outside the occasional note and brief cutscene. As a result, I found myself mostly wandering around killing mobs until I stumbled in the right direction. However, in these brief moments you can feel the impact of the situation on Lily through her body language. The spirit Knight tries to console her, but she is still only a child with a great burden to bear. I am curious how the story will unfold, but these small details and the atmosphere of this world is what really makes me want to return.
ENDER LILIES is currently on Steam early access and will release June 22, 2021. The early access contains three of the eight planned areas of the game.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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