ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights (Early Access) Review
Reviewed on PCAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Microsoft Xbox Series X, PC and Nintendo Switch
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is described as a ‘Dark Fantasy Metroidvania’ game by publishers Binary Haze Interactive. It was released on Steam early access on January 21st, with the full release of the game set for Q2 2021. This early access portion of the game gives the player access to three of the areas of the full game, with the complete version set to have around eight various areas. Despite only having three areas to explore in this game(and unable to do so fully yet), I have been fully immersed into clocking up six and a half hours in this dark but gorgeous game.
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights focuses around protagonist Lily in a dark landscape, one that gave me very ‘Soulsborne’ vibes at first, that is rife with undead and corruption that seems to be caused by the constant rain. Clearly, this is a post-apocalyptic setting, with Lily as the sole survivor of this corruption, a ‘White Priestess’ who is the only person capable of ‘saving’ the souls in the Ruined Kingdom by purging them of the blight.
Speaking of souls, purging some of these souls is how you upgrade and receive abilities in the game. The knight in the above image is the first soul you encounter, with them waking you from your sleep in the White Chapel, and serves as your default and only combat option until you reach the other end of the area. After the knight, each ability comes from defeating certain souls, some of these are optional bosses, while the Bosses of the levels are unavoidable, and each come woven in with a cut-scene following their defeat that is always tear-jerking.
The best and earliest example of how this game used its fights, environments, and audio to its advantage is when you reach the game's first boss fight. As Lily runs through the chapel, fighting the odd blighted soul, I was very aware of how quiet the game was. I was confused by it at first, the opening cinematic and options to adjust ‘BG Music’ and ‘Ambient’ sounds made me hyper-aware that there was some gorgeous music to come, but the fact that only Lily’s footsteps and the swings of the sword were audible did the job of putting me on edge. Then in the final chamber, the music finally kicked in. I fully paused at the doorway, and audibly said, “oh I’m afraid”.
The music in the game is haunting and incredible. The musical group Mili are responsible for the music in the game and have a history with franchises such as Goblin Slayer and Ghost in the Shell. While Keiichi Sugiyama, a veteran of SEGA known for contributions to Sonic the Hedgehog, is in charge of the equally incredible sound effects. Without the combination of these two, I believe the game would have lost something because, even with the stunning gothic visuals, the music is what fully invested me in the story. The sounds of the rain and the booming sound of the next phase of the boss fights had me fully immersed in this world and its tiny protagonist.
Lily is tiny in relation to many of the monsters she faces. And it is amusing and charming, if a little sad, to watch her running through the gorgeous landscape of the game alone, leaping from platform to platform. A couple of the jumps were rather fiddly in terms of controls, but that is more than likely to be the fact I’m just awful at platformers. I’m not usually the most persevering person in games, but I was so invested in the story of the game and charmed by the music and aesthetics, that I finally found my patience for constantly missing a ledge and falling into a body of water, just to watch this tiny girl defeat creatures with her ghost friends.
The controls are smooth, and the more bosses you fight, the more abilities you unlock. As mentioned at the beginning, I am currently unable to fully access the three levels, but I believe this is by design. I explored new areas with abilities I got later on, and I expect this theme continues later into the game. The map is huge and intricate, but I never got overwhelmed by the routes, or particularly lost. And always coming back to a peaceful bench or table before I met my untimely demise was definitely a nice and needed respite at times(I’m looking at you Dark Witch Eleine).
Overall, the experience was greater than I had expected, and I’ve ended up rambling about how much I love the game to many people. The story is a bit vague currently, but the lore seems to be gradually building, and I am intrigued to see where it goes. Even on the times I failed, I always felt like I had accomplished something, and that kept me playing. I’m excited to see the rest of the game when it is finally released to the world.
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is set to be released in Q2 2021, with developers Live Wire, Adglobe Tokyo and Adglobe Montreal Studio launching the game on PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility with the native PlayStation 4 app, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch alongside the Steam 1.0 launch. An Xbox One version is also tentatively planned.