The Castlevania series took a slight misstep with the last iteration, Portrait of Ruin. It was short, a bit too cartoony, and a little bit easy. Fortunately, the newest iteration in the Castlevania series, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, will fix that.
Gone are the anime inspired art style replaced by a more serious, darker art style with Shanoa, the main character, never breaking a smile, save for once at the end of the game. In addition to that, the game ratchets up the difficulty. You’re almost guaranteed to die at least once against every boss you’ll encounter. When you do, however, it’s never a case of cheap tactics or impossible difficulty and more because you simply lacked the patience to learn their pattern and counteract it.
The Glyph system is the main reason that Order of Ecclesia is fun to play. Glyphs are basically spells, but the way Shanoa wields them, they can be either spells or melee weapons. She can equip different glyphs onto each arm so that she can have access to different glyphs, which usually have different attributes as well. She can also combine them to make more powerful effects than just wielding them individually. Figuring out which glyphs works with your playstyle makes up for the majority of the fun of the game. The rest falls onto the well designed levels. At first, the levels are actually broken up into small disconnected chunks, but halfway through the game, you come across the all too familiar giant Dracula’s castle where the areas slowly opens up to you depending on what glyphs you have acquired. That’s when the game really gets good. Even if this formula is starting to get a little repetitive, this being the 6th Nintendo handheld Castlevania game, it’s still well worth the time and effort to play. If only they would bring change it up a bit.
Pros = Great combat system. Beautiful art style. Challenging.
Cons = Another throwaway story. Another year, another Castlevania game (sigh).
Final Verdict:Praise it.