With a name like Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights, it's hard to know what to expect. It's certainly a mouthful, so it wasn't necessarily the title that caught my attention to this title; rather, it was the visuals. It looked dark, somber even. Yet, a light within the darkness radiated from the screenshots of Ender Lilies, and I found that you play as a little girl. Touting itself a 2D action RPG, you don't see many games within this genre starring a child. So, title aside, my interest was piqued.
After previewing a portion of the Early Access for Ender Lilies, I'm much more invested in it now than when I saw the title. The visuals and music are certainly the most prominent and captivating part of Ender Lilies, but even the 2D, Soulslike Metroidvania-esque gameplay plays pretty solid—even if said genre is a little oversaturated.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights' Visuals Light the Way
Some games that try to go for an oppressive, dark atmosphere fail to grasp the fact that not everything has to be a few shades of black, gray, and white. Ender Lilies developers Live Wire and adglobe, thankfully, make a bleak game with plenty of color and oomph to the visuals. The backgrounds your character traverses (this character being a little girl) are quite beautiful indeed. The use of parallax, adding objects in the background and sometimes in the foreground, create diverse and pleasing environments to look at.
You'll navigate decrepit ruins and destroyed villages, which look very nice, of course. Within the first few minutes of my time with Ender Lilies, I was met with a jaw-dropping display. This ruined cathedral had this grim altar with candles and colorful stained glass within a dark environment. The first boss was in this area, and the ominous effect of the environment made quite the spectacle.
The music for Ender Lilies shouldn't be overlooked, either. Again, the soundtrack is rather bleak and often relies on melodies played by the piano combined. In the ruined village area, a humming singer would chime in with the melody. The result of which created a rather depressing atmosphere, but one fitting for Ender Lilies. According to Ender Lilies' Steam page, the soundtrack is composed by a group called Mili. If you're a fan of anime, you might recognize that they did the opening and other songs for "Goblin Slayer." Recalling the opening, I feel like Mili was a perfect fit. The epic feel of the stringed instruments and the fantastic vocals of Mili's singer complements the dire atmosphere Ender Lilies evokes.
A Fusion of Genres With Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
In truth, while I called Ender Lilies something of a Soulslike and Metroidvania, it feels more like the latter. There are Soulslike elements for sure, like three available heals which are recharged at checkpoints scattered through the game world. The bosses vaguely resemble that of Soulslike foes too, as they have sizable health pools and have attack patterns you need to get used to and dodge out of the way. That's really where it ends, and the rest feels like a 2D Metroidvania platformer.
You're a little girl, but you use what seem to be the souls of dead people to fight for you. You start with a knight that can do basic slashing attacks, and as you defeat bosses you'll gain abilities themed after them. I could summon a flail-swinging woman and conjure up a cloud of poison from a floating mage, for instance. There's a decent amount of variety, so as time goes on, I assume that you can really find a build to your liking that accommodates your playstyle.
Using these abilities in combat is very simple and it's easy to string together your abilities to cause a lot of damage. The combat turns out to be fun if a bit bland. It doesn't do anything new, really, it just feels like you have a lot of abilities at your disposal. Enemies, even bosses, are also generic. Normal enemies have one or two attacks, while bosses are very predictable and pose little challenge; their attacks are easy to avoid.
As a Metroidvania-style game, Ender Lilies should have a fair bit of exploration and branching paths. Thankfully, it does provide such a thing, although too often do I feel like I was always venturing right in the game world. Metroidvanias should have many different paths and take advantage of new abilities you gain in order to explore new sections. There are some branching paths, sure, but the abilities you gain from bosses to access new areas feel underutilized or underwhelming. For example, I gained the ability to swim and dive, which just wasn't exciting. Another ability allowed me to slam on certain parts of the ground to open a new area or get a treasure underneath; again, it didn't feel like the gameplay changed that much and these areas were few and far between.
Truthfully, Ender Lilies seems like a very promising game. The environments and music are both beautiful and I find the combat, while not all that new or exciting, to be fun to use. The exploration elements could use some work, but seeing as I can't take my eyes off the game's visuals, it is likely to take a hold of you, too. With Ender Lilies' out on Steam Early Access, player feedback could make this a good one.
TechRaptor previewed Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. Early access will be available on Steam on January 21, 2021.