Monday, 25 January 2010

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2009) - Horror Videogame Review (Nintendo DS)

I love the Metroidvania style of games, the GBA Castlevania trilogy were awesome, fantastic games. The DS ones have never really bottled that same magic, though are still good games. I think it's just the Manga style artwork which puts me off, I much prefer the Gothic artwork style of the older games, it just suits it better. 

Ecclesia starts with you (a female magician called Shanoa) about to participate in a rite that will seal Dracula away forever. However a jealous rival (Albus) interrupts the ceremony stealing the magical runes necessary for the banishment, and causing you to loose your memory in the process. It is your job to hunt down your rival and take back the runes he has stolen so that the rite can be completed.

Like Portrait of Ruin before it Order of Ecclesia is split into levels rather than just the one big castle. It's not till over halfway through the game that you actually get access to Castlevania itself. Portrait of Ruin levels were cool, featuring pyramids, circuses and towns. Unfortunately Ecclesia shows far less originality, locations being more mundane and realistic. You get mountains, forests, mansions, and caves. Some of which are cool (enjoyed the Skull Crypt) but others like the billion forest and mountain levels get boring and bland.

Rather than physical attacks you use magical runes which can be found in the levels, as well as taken from defeated enemies. These magical attacks can manifest themselves as weapons, as well as more traditional magic such as fireballs. Also some helpful runes give you powers such as flight, the ability to breath underwater and speed that help you to reach at first inaccessible places.

The enemies are nearly all the same as ones from previous games. This is not a bad thing though, as the continuity works really well in the Castlevania series. The bosses are mostly all new featuring such memorable terrors as a Giant Enemy Crab (TM) you fight in a lighthouse, a gigantic screen filling armoured fire breathing Bull type monstrosity, and a funny man who you defeat by stealing his rune that allows him to pass through walls whilst he is passing through a wall, funny.

The music is good, not great, later on some classic tunes make a comeback when you get to Castlevania. I would argue that the only really good levels are those in Castlevania, all that come before just a bit plain.

Rather than the traditional merchant (soldier, priest etc) who sells you items you now have a whole village full of shops where you can get everything you desire, as well as complete a number of side quests. The side quests are not as numerous or as interesting as Winds side quests in Portrait of Ruin though.

Another good Castlevania game, may be a bit hard for Castlevania virgins (I had to do some mass grinding to be able to 100% the game) but recommended if your looking for a fun DS game.


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