Bless the rains down in Metroidvania
There seems to be a growing trend with dark Metroidvanias employing hauntingly beautiful, delicate animations — last year saw the release of Vigil: The Longest Night, which was in turn inspired by Salt and Sanctuary. This year, developers Live Wire and Adglobe and publisher Binary Haze Interactive will be dropping ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights on Steam, available as an Early Access title starting on January 21, 2021 (with plans to release on consoles later this year). If you consider yourself a Metroidvania fan and have already eaten up the two aforementioned titles, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is a striking addition to the genre and a no-brainer of a purchase.
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is described on its Steam page as “a dark fantasy 2D Action RPG about unraveling the mysteries of a destroyed kingdom.” The game boasts some big names having their hand in the title, including anime legend Mili (Ghost in the Shell, Goblin Slayer) composing the OST and former SEGA producer Keiichi Sugiyama (Rez, Skies of Arcadia) creating the sound effects. Priced at an affordable $19.99, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is a polished and refined feast for the senses while still providing that distinctly indie feel.
In ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights, players will take on the role of the priestess Lily, who finds herself suddenly awake in a dank, damp dungeon. A spirit of a knight appears to her and asks if she can remember anything; unfortunately, her memory has vanished, but no matter — the knight pledges to guard Lily as she makes her way out of the cavernous dungeon. Of course, escape isn’t easy, as grotesque, undead enemies block her path, cursed by a mysterious rain. Using her knight’s power, she is able to attack all that stand in her way by calling on him to slay the enemies for her. The two acting as one, they’re able to journey from one godforsaken world to the next. As Lily progresses, she purifies the souls of the bosses that would smite her so that she may recruit them to act as an entourage guarding her every step; additionally, she receives visions that help her piece the past together. Can she solve the mystery of the devastating unholy rain and save her kingdom from its grasp?
I’ll admit, the default control scheme didn’t sit with me, as the arrows were used to move Lily and WASD keys were used for other actions. Luckily, it only takes a second to quickly remap the controls as the player desires, so, for me, WASD became movement, space jumped, shift dodged, and arrow keys were the various attacks. It wasn’t the most intuitive, but it got the job done; luckily (again), full controller support is offered for those who want to take advantage of that, and I’d daresay ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is honestly best experienced this way.
When it comes to aesthetics, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights absolutely shines. Bringing in big names like Mili and Sugiyama was an excellent choice, as the music and sound are arguably the first thing I noticed, which is saying something considering the extraordinary allure of the art and animations. From the get go, it’s clear that this game is the sum of a million tiny details, from the slight shift in water droplet sounds going from foreground to background depending on where Lily is to the utter silence in certain areas conveying a sense of cold loneliness. The sounds were met with equally delicate visuals — the art style is obviously beautiful while viewing the holy, glowing priestess Lily, but even the most foul undead beast has incredibly detailed armor, spikes, or other dangerous attributes. Paired with hypnotizing animations that glide breathlessly across the screen, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is truly a gorgeous game in every sense of the phrase.
In terms of difficulty, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights’ pacing is fair but firm — the exploration feels simple enough, especially at first, but gradually ups the difficulty as players progress. One interesting decision was to have enemies respawn after utilizing checkpoints, meaning you could backtrack to try to regain HP only to face the enemies that drained it in the first place. The CEO of Binary Haze Interactive stated that they “balanced our fast-paced combat system to provide a challenge for players of all skill levels while nurturing the progress of those with less experience,” which is a perfectly honest assessment. In terms of exploration, I’d say this is a great first Metroidvania for those unfamiliar with the genre; in terms of combat, veterans will find a teasing challenge that lures them in with its initial ease only to pack a powerful punch later on. There’s definitely something for everyone in ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights, so don’t sleep on this promising gem.
Be sure to check out ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights on Steam and add it to your Wishlist today!