23 December 2016

Random Reviews. Chapter-3.1: Re-review Ecclesia (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia)


Quite a while back, I did a review on Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. I was still new to reviewing at the time and the review seemed more like the ramblings of a fan boy than an actual review. So, I'm going to re-review this game. Why? Because this game is too awesome to have a poorly written review. So here we are again!

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is another popular metroid-vania game. It's one of the best Castlevania games (in my opinion) to come out. In a birds' eye view, this game doesn't have any major problems that stand out. But let's face facts, no game is perfect.

I stated this before, it's one of the more story heavy castlevania games (not that there's much competition) and I still stand by my statement. The Belmont clan vanished off the face of the Earth (because Konami doesn't want every Castlevania game to revolve around whipping your enemies to death) and man has to find a way to banish Dracula without the Vampire Killer. A organization called Ecclesia created Glyphs (Basically magic drawings) to try and beat Dracula. When all there glyphs failed, they used Dracula's own power to create a glyph and then they split it into 3 parts. Shanoa, the protagonist of this story, is chosen to wield the glyph, Domius but her brother disrupts the ceremony. Shanoa loses her memory and her emotions. This is a great excuse for a character to not have any emotions.

One thing that bothers me though, is the fact that Shanoa lost all her emotions and STILL shows more emotion than Barbie in animated Barbie movies. If I had Ecclesia's researchers, I'd probably get them to create a glyph to banish Barbie. And... I'm getting off-topic.

Back to the plot, Shanoa tracks down her brother and after killing him and taking back Domius, she recieves her brother's memories and meets her brother's ghost. She then learns that her brother tried to save her because Domius costs the user his/her life. She also learns that it was Domius that stole her memories. She heads back to Ecclesia to get some answers and learns that Ecclesia's true purpose is to revive Dracula. She tries her best, but cannot stop Dracula's resurrection. And thus, she goes off to fight Dracula.

This game uses a game-play mechanic that, I guess in some ways, are similar to Circle of the Moon's DSS. Every single attack that you launch costs some MP. Lose all your MP, you're a sitting duck. Normally, a style like this would be a huge mistake and would render the game unplayable. But OoE fixes this problem by adding another feature which would normally break the game. It introduces a ridiculously high MP regeneration rate. 90% of the time, Your MP will regenerate faster than you can use it up. The two game breaking forces co-operate with each other to produce a beautiful, balanced and smooth game play mechanic. Combined with a combo system, it makes for a fast paced and fun game play mechanic that gives you near perfect control of you character.

Like all Metroid-vania games, you collect various artifacts that help you reach new areas and give you new abilities. Almost all of them are useful in some shape or form, EXCEPT one. I'm not a very skilled gamer. But I personally found the Glyph Sleeve completely useless. I've seen many people use it but I actually never even felt the need to use it. This however does not render the game even slightly irritating.

This game, like Portrait of Ruin, has 2 endings. Here is my first complaint about this game. To get the true, good ending, you need to find all the villagers. Normally this wouldn't be a problem if some of the villagers weren't hidden in SECRET AREAS! They however make it slightly less unbearable by giving you hints to the locations of the villagers when you get the bad ending. But a game should not force me to find secret areas in order to properly complete it. The Endings are enjoyable and this game succeeds where PoR fails. The Bad ending has you helplessly watch Shanoa be betrayed and die while Dracula gets revived. This gives you the drive to get the good ending.

The game is really long and can be split into 2 parts. The Dracula's castle part (2nd), and the everywhere-else-in-the-world part (1st). The bosses in the 1st part prepare you for the 2nd part. The boss battles mainly have 3 ways for you to win:

1. Grind until your too OP for the boss to handle.

2. Analyze the bosses' strengths and weaknesses and come up with a strategy.

3.Memorize the bosses' attack pattern.

Some bosses are easier to beat in one way while other bosses are easier to beat in another way. The bosses are all difficult but the difficulty in terms of bosses aren't all over the place. The difficulty curve is just a bit steep I guess. Most of the bosses are balanced and not over the top difficult like some bosses in PoR. For example, Albus has a very unpredictable attack pattern and his attacks do heavy damage if they hit. To balance this out, his attacks really easy to dodge. This doesn't make him an easy boss, as your likely to die from goof-ups and misreading attacks. Barlowe, on the other hand, has attacks that are really hard to dodge. But every attack he fires takes a second to start and he performs animations that give away what attack he's going to use. His attacks also do less damage compared to Albus. If you're really bad at dodging, this boss fight will be hell for you. Blackmore is probably the most annoying boss in the game. Fractions of Albus' damage and unpredictability and Barlowe's hard to dodge property combined with a fast flow of attacks was used to create Blackmore.

In 80% of the Castlevania games, Dracula changes into a second form. Here, Dracula stays in one form. He just changes his attacks and the boss fight goes from easy to Final boss level in a second. The sudden boost in difficulty along with attacks that deal 100+ damage and going from predictable to unpredictable in a blink of an eye makes for a truly tough boss fight. His soul steal attack can be very annoying as he heals his own HP by 240 and likewise, reduces your HP by 240. This difficulty in my opinion is just right for a final boss. When you lose this fight, you don't feel like the game threw an over powered final boss. You feel like it's your own fault for not being able to dodge properly. This actually works to the game's benefit and enhances the experience. Upon winning this fight, you are treated to the beautiful ending of the game. But I feel that Dracula's banishment was a little underwhelming. This is the final boss here we're talking about. At least make his death a little flashy.

Speaking of flashy, the graphics of this game is really nice. It's not over the top but it's pleasing to the eye. The full OST isn't as good as PoR. PoR had more memorable and great themes. However 2 themes of OoE really stand out. "An Empty Tome" and "Chapel Hidden in Smoke" are, in my opinion, some of the best themes in video games. "Chapel Hidden in Smoke" has a beautiful and sad melody while "An Empty Tome" serves to prepare you for the 2nd part of the game where there's more emphasis on your actions instead of dialogue. It gives a beginning-of-the-end kinda vibe. The levels designs were great through out the whole game. But the levels at the later end of the 1st part are recycled. Some of the levels even share similar layouts and music along with backgrounds.

Overall this is a great Castlevania game that you should definitely try out.

I rate this game: 80/100

Thanks for reading!

The old review: http://zulkrs.blogspot.com/2016/12/random-reviews-chapter-3-ecclesia.html

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