Much like the dark and despair filled world state that is beautifully rendered visually, the early access release of Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights mixes the good with the bad by allowing players to dive into its promising experience but for only a portion of it. While it’s not often that we review early access games here, this is one that deserves a moment in the spotlight.
The player takes control of Lily, a priestess who is seemingly reborn as she opens her eyes in a forsaken church. It is there that she is met by the umbral knight who acts as her sword hand and guide in a world that has been plagued by a dying rain. This is the End’s Kingdom and all of its living things have been transformed into undead husks of their former selves by this never ending rain. It is up to Lily to venture out and discover what has happened and what can be done of this seemingly irredeemable world.
Much of the story is doled out through journal entries and letters scattered throughout the map or periodic dialogue that you will have with your companion knight. There are also cut scenes when defeating major bosses that hint at Lily being a connection between what once was and the shamble that now is. Even mini bosses will provide a small bit of exposition upon defeat that will allude to a former, better time. While the story is not necessarily the strongest, the ways that it is nicely woven into a variety of experiences and the promise of more being revealed upon full release deems it as perfectly serviceable.
Ender Lilies is very much a 2D metroidvania, meaning that there will be many instances of backtracking with new skills and abilities in order to uncover additional paths and hidden collectibles. Lily begins with a basic attack that is performed by the umbral knight, a standard jump and a dodge. The dodge specifically is unique in that when it’s performed Lily dives to the ground in an arch, so make sure to account for that when aiming your landing point.
Every boss that you defeat becomes a spirit that joins you and provides their own unique attack to your arsenal. Lily can only equip a total of 6 into her load out and that must be done at a rest point, so there is some customization and planning involved. Note that certain attacks are listed as aquatic and if you haven’t brought any with you, will quickly be defeated when faced with enemies underwater.
That being said, swimming like other additional traversal skill such as the genre staple double jump or a ground slam are unlocked after defeating a major boss at the end of a chapter. These fights are perhaps the only thing in the game that really provide much of a challenge, in some cases having to repeat them multiple times in order to get the pattern recognition down and not make too many mistakes to get through. None of this is the blame of the controls though because they are as good as can be expected.
Back to the rest points, more and more will unlock as you discover them. In addition to letting you set your load out they will provide you the ability to use items to enhance your spirit companions, save your game, utilize fast travel, equip relics with passive bonuses, reset your heal charges and will also respawn all defeated enemies. So just make sure you absolutely need to use one before you do.
The main upgrades for Lily however, are found out in the game world. Attack power is increase directly by gaining levels through combat so there is always motivation to keep engaging in battle. Hit points and the potency of your heal however, require finding fragments and fallen priestesses respectively in order to improve so you also need to make sure you are being thorough.
Presentation is a big plus in Ender Lilies. The graphic style is absolutely gorgeous while also leaning heavily on the use of color for emphasis. The world is a dark fantasy inspired landscape where it and all of its denizens are painted with dark tones which are contrasted by the attack animations, spell effects and Lily herself who shine with brighter, more vibrant color. It really is something that needs to be seen firsthand.
The music in this game is both beautiful and captivating and I love the little touches like how when you submerge Lily in water, the sound gets muffled for effect. The main problem is that there are only about couple of tracks in this release which leaves you wanting a lot more.
For an early access title, it never once felt like one since throughout the whole playthrough there were no bugs to be found. While the combat is a bit generic, there is nothing wrong with it which might just be enough in that department. There needs to be a bigger variety of enemies and zones but that as well as hopefully the addition of more songs will presumably be added at launch.
My biggest disappointment in Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights was when I hit the wall that clearly told me that this is as far as the early access will let me go. Still after completing the 3 zones provided, there is a lot to be excited about for the other 5 or so the developer claims will be in the version 1.0. Metroidvania fans and beyond should absolutely keep an eye on this title in anticipation of its full release on both PC and console.