Whilst scouting out new developers on Twitter, I came across another indie Metroidvania game in development that caught my eye and decided to get into contact with the team involved about further coverage. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a Metroidvania game influenced by a plethora of different titles from what I could deduce at first glance, including Dark Souls, Castlevania, and Shadow of the Colossus. I was captivated by this game after watching the trailer, and even more so after playing merely the first ten minutes. Developed by Binary Haze Interactive based in Tokyo, and released on Steam Early Access later last month to an overwhelmingly positive response from players, it shows a great deal of promise in almost every aspect and I’m very much looking forward to playing the full title. Here is a full account of my first impressions of the game.
The game is set in a lost kingdom which the player must explore and uncover the mystery of as the game progresses. The kingdom is a desolate abandoned place with a strong sense of melancholy, but at the same time, perpetuating a strong sense of eloquence and beauty. The orchestral, primarily piano-based soundtrack does well to add to that feeling. Even during boss fights, the music sounds very sorrowful in stark contrast to what are some particularly intense combat sequences. Gothic architecture and Japanese landscape are at the center of the design of the in-game world, which gives it a prominent feel of games such as Okami and Blasphemous.
The game is a 2D open-world Metroidvania title heavy on combat, puzzle-solving, and item collecting. There is a massive amount of collectibles to attain throughout the game and even new abilities to learn as well as the facility to find and upgrade weapons. Already I can tell this title has a lot more to offer than many of the other story-driven indie games I’ve played, including Journey, The Swapper, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. When a game is heavy on story, like Ender Lilies is set to be, there’s always a risk of the story taking precedence over the gameplay; but even after having played around twenty minutes of this title, I can already deduce that this won’t be the case.
By proxy, I’ve also found no issues with the controls, even in this stage of development. Combat is incredibly fluent, as what is required in a game like this that has a number of particularly challenging boss fights. It plays out very much like Blasphemous in the respect that enemies and bosses deal an incredible amount of damage and that players have to take to strategizing throughout to stay alive. There is a great deal of skill required from players to progress through this game and the control scheme allows for players to do so without any unnecessary compilations from what I can surmise at this point in development.
With so many collectibles, weapons, and secret areas to discover across the game’s open world, the likelihood is that this game can potentially make for an experience that will last 20 hours minimum; maybe even longer. It would depend on what more may be added later on in development to determine exactly how long it can be made to last, but it certainly has the potential to beat out a lot of the competition across the indie scene if it can be made to last a substantial amount of time. There have been many indie Metroidvania games that have come and gone that have amazed me in terms of gameplay but lacked in lifespan such as Dust: An Elysian Tail and Ori & the Blind Forest. But with the promise of so many things to do within Ender Lilies, the prospect of this game lasting a long time are indeed there.
The story follows a young girl named Lily, who wakes up to find an unknown guardian specter tasked with protecting her, and who sets out on a journey to recover her own memory, as well as uncovering the past history of this lost kingdom. The reason why this game reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus is because of the direction in which the story seems to be steering towards, involving a series of tragic realizations with a potentially bittersweet outcome. Even at the same points, the spirits of the defeated bosses join Lily at her side as and when the player defeats them; similar to how the spirits of the colossi gather to stand over Wander’s body as he returns to the shrine of worship after he defeats each of them. The game’s story has the potential to make as much of an impact on the player as the gameplay has the potential to satisfy them; to a great extent.
With a clear oversaturation of Metroidvania titles continuing to seep into the community of indie games development, it had inevitably become harder and harder to make one in the particular title stand out among so many others. But with Ender Lilies’ approach to gameplay, conceptual design, and story arc, it does have the potential to stand out among most others. There is a strong similarity between this game and Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but whether or not Ender Lilies ends up bearing too close a resemblance to the former will depend on how development progresses before its full release.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with what Ender Lilies has to offer gamers at this stage in development. It has great potential to offer gamers more than simply being another combat-orientated Metroidvania game and it will be very interesting to see how the final product plays out compared to where Binary Haze is with it at this point in time.