The following software was reviewed on an Xbox Series X.
In an absence of light, you have scourge, villainy, and blight; consume enough media and you will know plenty of words that describe pestilence. One can call it a tired trope, but I sometimes find comfort in dark stories filled with tales of sadness and struggles from long ago. And I recently got my fill of that from ENDER LILIES, a Metroidvania RPG-lite from Tokyo-based BINARY HAZE INTERACTIVE. A game that fell just below my radar, but I was happy enough to catch it, because it is a solid game that fans of the genre will definitely like.
Villainy and Blight
If you are not familiar with the term, Metroidvania is a genre of 2D side-scroller games that have the player find their way through the world with the tools they have at hand. ENDER LILIES does not deviate from this standard and this makes for an excellent entry point into the genre for first-timers. Players will spend time exploring the map, finding doors that just might not open until you find a lever somewhere else in the map. Or maybe even requiring a skill that the game will give you later on and will require you to backtrack to the zones that were locked off prior.
In ENDER LILIES, players will assume the role of a little girl considered to be a Priestess in a land drenched in “Blight”, and it is up to you to find out what happened to the world, purify those consumed by darkness, and who you are. The Little Priestess is defenseless on her own, focusing specifically on exploration and healing which come in limited numbers. Combat is handled by your spiritual companions, the first one being an Ancient Warrior that quickly slashes foes away. During world progression, you will find other spirits cursed with Blight that will join your team of Spirits once you have bested them in battle and purified them. This helps the combat not get old as you can switch up how you fight at every rest point you find. You can build two teams of Spirits that you can switch on a whim during exploration and that really comes in handy when surrounded by small fry. Beating up said small fry also nets you levels, which increase base stats and make surviving a little easier.
Controls and Design
The gameplay may look difficult at first, but ENDER LILIES is rather forgiving. Every few rooms will eventually lead to a rest point, where you can save your game, enhance your Spirits with material found in the overworld, and change out Relics that enhance the Priestess’ abilities. Death will always take you to the nearest rest point, and levels earned are never lost. Enemies, though sometimes annoying, have clear windows of attack and are easy to dodge or tear apart before they get the chance to attack. Even healing resources are commonly scattered about that I did not have to worry about having to use the healing ability conservatively. I did die plenty of times during my playthrough of the game, but it was usually my fault and I never felt like I wasted time when dying.
Even in death, I held an appreciation for the game’s art and world design. The world is very grim (almost Brother Grimm) and how the story tropes in ENDER LILIES can it make it hard to differentiate it from other works. But how the game conveys the story through bits and pieces of dialogue, documents, and visual representation of situations really pulled me into the world and sometimes caught me off-guard. I love the art style because it paints this parasitic land with monotone, muted colours yet expands the range of light based on the theme of the scenario. The music by Mili, best known by anyone who have played the Cytus or Deemo rhythm games as well as some anime, does a good job of staying in the background. Their recognizable style of alternative, music box cadence is present in their musical visualization of the Blighted lands that permeate each level.
In my time with ENDER LILIES, I did not run into any bugs and I found the game to be very competent. Levels do a great job of leading the player where to go next, and the map is not a detailed nuisance but only shows exits available in each room. It is with these thoughts that have me recommend this game to first-time Metroidvania players or anyone looking for a platformer fix. With a solid combat system, pretty visuals, and good level design makes ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights a game I can suggest to just about anyone.