The lights are on
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has been on my must-play list for a long time now. Released in 2008, it remains the final Symphony of the Night-style Castlevania game. Part of me purposely put off playing it for just this reason. I always knew there would be one new Metroid-esque Castlevania waiting for me. Sure, I loved Lords of Shadow and what it brought to the franchise, but it’s just not the same as having Super Metroid maps, expert sprite animation, and a ridiculous amount of powers and gear. I haven’t yet tried this year’s Mirror of Fate on 3DS, but from what I understand from my colleague, Tim, it’s much more Lords of Shadow than Symphony of the Night. Reading our list of the top 25 DS games in the July 2013 issue stirred up the nostalgia within and I finally broke down and played Order of Ecclesia.
While it has more bite-sized levels than traditional 2D Castlevanias and no whip, I was still immediately hooked. I played through most of the game normally and then right near the end I purposely halted all core progress. In every Castlevania game in this vein I can’t help but go through and make sure I have every monster entered into my bestiary. Outside of a few hard-to-find enemies, this isn’t so bad. What’s really tough is scoring all of the rare drops from said enemies. I make sure to load up on all kinds of luck-boosting gear and even a glyph (Ecclesia’s primary method of attack and special abilities). Despite how extremely boring it is on paper, leaving and entering a room repeatedly to kill the same enemy until it drops its treasure is strangely satisfying. You find the most efficient way to dispatch the foe and every time they go into some elaborate death animation there’s that chance you’ll see that sweet, sweet drop. Most of the time it’ll just be some useless food item, but sometimes you’ll get an awesome new glyph or piece of armor.
Another element that eats up tons of time is the rare chests scattered throughout levels. Several items can only be found in these chests on specific stages. You essentially have to zip through the whole area to check if a rare chest has taken the place of a normal wooden one. It’s not as bad when you have a speed glyph equipped, but it’s more involved and complicated than mindlessly killing the same enemy over and over again.
The nastiest part of going for 100 percent in Order of Ecclesia is the two secret areas. The Training Hall is a horrifying obstacle course of death in which I had to rely on my terrible Magnes skills (a magnetic slingshot platforming tool) to get through. If you want certain rare items you’ll have to make it through more than once! The other area, Large Cavern, sounds innocuous enough, but it’s full of tons of arenas loaded with the most difficult monsters in the game. You have to beat it all in one go so if you make it all the way to the boss at the end die you lose all of that progress.
Depending on how good and/or patient you are, it takes forever to complete all of these tasks. Then you beat the game and a ton of new options open up. Will you perfect your Boss Rush time to get exclusive items? Will you start a new game with a new playable character who has a completely different skill set? Maybe you’re crazy and will trying the new hard difficulty and set the level cap to one. Most of this stuff I can’t bring myself to do, even though it means putting down what could be the last Symphony of the Night-style Castlevania ever. Faced with the wall of frustration ahead, I decided to preserve my happy memories of Order of Ecclesia. But many fans out there had the strength to invest the dozens of hours it would take to do it all. And for that I salute them.
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