Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2008)

Did you know that the Scholar loves Castlevania?

You probably knew that.

Right. Good.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia came out a whopping six years ago–right about the time I started my PhD program, as it happens. I’ll let you decide for yourself which aspect of that is the most depressing.

I didn’t play OoE at the time because I’d sold my DS months earlier, and had been somewhat disillusioned by the previous entry in the series. But I recently picked up a 2DS, because it appeals to the contrarian in me (three dimensions?! Fah! What pointless frippery!). And while my actual work has taken a considerable hit as a result, I’ve been happy to get back to some serious time wasting. The 3DS/2DS play old DS games, so I got OoE because, you know… Castlevania. (I also got the Lords of Shadow portable entry, which I’ll probably review soon).

Order of Ecclesia is a surprise (to me, anyway). I’d become inured to the endless spinoffs of SotN that never managed to recapture the magic of that pinnacle of 2D platforming, that prince among, uh, vampire… games…

Writing hurts. Like, my whole face.

So. You play as Shanoa, who simultaneously scores a minor victory for women in action games and proves once again that J-pop heroes have to have weird names and improbable battle attire (she wears essentially a leather breastplate over an open-back navy blue evening gown over combat boots… so maybe that victory is less of a victory and more beating the spread. But we’ll take what we can get.).

Shanoa works for the eponymous Order of Ecclesia, a group of people (apparently her and exactly two other guys) who serve as sort of interim protectors of the land against Dracula when the Belmont family is otherwise indisposed. They’ve developed a magical set of glyphs, powerful written thingies that Shanoa, for some reason, can absorb into her body and manifest at will. So if she destroys a monster carrying a sword, for instance, it may leave behind a sword glyph, which Shanoa can then absorb, and with which she can summon a sword out of thin air. The idea is that Shanoa can use the most powerful glyph of all, called Dominus, to challenge the toothy count himself, no Belmonts needed. (It’s admittedly a poorly explained magic system, but it makes for some cool gameplay.)

As sullen amnesiacs go, she’s fairly okay, and has a cool move set to complement her slightly-less-ridiculous-than-it-sounds character design. She can jump super-high, do cool midair flips, summon massive weapons from the aether, and generally make a ruckus with the best of the (so far almost exclusively male) Belmont clan. She plays, in fact, much like Alucard from the illustrious SotN, except more acrobatic and with a greater range of projectile attacks.

This trailer (via YouTuber gamingbits) gives you a good look at the gameplay, and a good listen to the cheesy voice acting.

I haven’t finished it as of this writing, but so far Order of Ecclesia is actually really good. It’s got a fair bit of cheese, sure, but the visuals are great, and the gameplay is fun and just difficult enough to be a challenge without seeming unfair. There’s some great use of sound, too, with a killer soundtrack and creepy ghost/monster voices throughout. Most importantly, it feels like Castlevania again, something I haven’t been able to say about any game since, well…. 1997.

4scoops

I have been a bad blogger lately, for which I can only apologize. Real life has intruded most uncomfortably on my nerdy horror scarytime. Rather than trying to catch up on everything I missed, I’m opting to forge blindly ahead. I hope to have more of a presence in the weeks ahead, but if I’m slow to respond or comment on posts, bear with me.

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