"Since time immemorial (read: 1997), Konami has promised a worthy sequel to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Every couple of years, the developers rise from their graves, and not even a long history of half-assed failures can stop them. First, there was Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance. Then there was Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin. In the middle was Curse of Darkness and Lament of Innocence, both 3D bastard children in a 2D series. The only post-SOTN Castlevania that can even..."
Since time immemorial (read: 1997), Konami has promised a worthy sequel to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Every couple of years, the developers rise from their graves, and not even a long history of half-assed failures can stop them. First, there was Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance. Then there was Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin. In the middle was Curse of Darkness and Lament of Innocence, both 3D bastard children in a 2D series. The only post-SOTN Castlevania that can even be considered decent was Aria of Sorrow, and even then it was only decent. With the franchise’s newest installment, Order of Ecclesia, Konami again promised something good and never delivers.
Order of Ecclesia was supposed to be something different, a game that would remind people that Castlevania wasn’t always a shitty RPG platformer. Instead, it delivers only another shitty RPG platformer hiding in the shadow of Symphony of the Night. The first and most major noticeable differences from the rest of the series are Ecclesia’s two main gimmicks. For one, you play as a girl. For a second, they replaced collecting cards/weapons/souls with the glyph system. Glyphs work like the weapons in every other Castlevania game. Glyphs are little floating symbols that must be absorbed by sitting perfectly still and holding Up for a few seconds. There’s a multitude of ways to get them – they drop from certain enemies, can be absorbed from other enemies that try to attack you with them, you can find them in certain statues and other places in the environment. Glyphs can be equipped to X and Y or R. Attacking drains your MP bar, and attacking with X and Y at the same time drains it even faster. There’s also glyph unions, which are super attacks using certain combinations of glyphs that drain hearts instead of MP. My biggest problem with the glyph system is that fully 75% of them are worthless or clones (for instance, the hammer and the scythe are the same thing but do different types of damage). Most enemies have insane resistance to everything but one or two types of damage, which are usually either piercing (swords, rapiers, etc) or bludgeoning (hammer). The other major issue is that the MP bar is overly restrictive. Later-game enemies have multiple hundreds of HP, and your strongest weapons do maybe 40 damage and can be used ten times or so before your MP is gone.
RPG-wise, Ecclesia is the same as any other Metroidvania. Levelling gives you health and increases stats, which primarily effect how much damage you do and how fast your MP regenerates. The one major fallacy here is the Luck stat. If you’ll recall, Luck was the be all and end all stat in Symphony of the Night and all of its clones, because it effected drop rates. In Ecclesia, the only thing Luck effects are item drop rates, meaning that glyphs are just as hard to find regardless of your stats.
The level and boss design is where Ecclesia turns to shit. Instead of making the entire game one big level subdivided into smaller zones, Ecclesia has short levels styled after the older Castlevania games. To make up for the ability to escape and save your game easily, Konami decided to put in enemies that are either bullshit hard or just plain stupid. Take enemies like the Ectoplasm, of which there are literally ten on screen at once in certain areas. Ectoplasms curse you if they come anywhere near you, reducing your character to a magic-less wreck that can only run away and take damage. Another Konami favorite is poison, which not only takes away roughly half your health bar unless you cure it immediately, but also reduces your damage by about 75%. There’s also a ton of regular enemies that have a “stunlock” attack that is usually instant kill unless you’re of a way higher level.
Bosses are equally insipid borefests. Most of them have either tons of HP or a screenspam instant-kill attack, or both. There’s no strategy here, just run in with whatever glyphs they’re weak to, spam glyph unions until you’re out of hearts, then hit them with regular attacks until they die. There’s such great bosses as Goliath, a screen-filling undead giant who can and will oneshot you with any one of his attacks, or just take off half your HP for touching him. Also of note is the boss that was used to sell the game – a giant demon crab that you fight in an extremely confined tower. The crab actually has infinite HP and can only be killed by riding an elevator downward and crushing him. The fight takes probably ten minutes during which you’re doing absolutely nothing but sitting in one corner where he can’t hit you and spamming axes occasionally. Every boss is like this – spam and pray they don’t hit you with their instant-kill screenspam attack.
Final nail in this abortion’s coffin – it’s extremely, extremely short. Even fully exploring most of the maps and finding most of the glyphs and powerups, I was able to complete the game in under 8 hours. Add in the time I spent at the game over screen and you’d still probably only have nine.
Bottom Line: Order of Ecclesia is another unworthy sequel to Symphony of the Night, and yet another reason why the Castlevania franchise should have been killed off years ago. Unless you’re an absolutely hardcore fan of the series, I wouldn’t reccomend playing this. Final Score: 3/10.
Community review by timrod (October 25, 2008)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!