astlevania: Order of Ecclesia is the third Castlevania game to grace the DS. In it you play as Shanoa, bane of Dracula and a member of the Order of Ecclesia; and who just so happens to have a unique ability.
Active sometime in the 19th century, Ecclesia is one of many organizations formed in the attempt to find another means of defeating the undead lord every time he returns. There is a need to find an alternative source as the Belmonts — a long family line of the vampire's nemeses — are nowhere to be found.
There is a wide variety
of areas to explore.One by one these organizations fail at their task until Ecclesia is one of the few remaining. Fortunately, members of the Order makes a breakthrough, finding a means of defeating Dracula with the Dominus glyph.
Shanoa can create physical manifestations of magical glyphs by absorbing them into herself via a large master glyph tattooed on her back. The game starts with Shanoa preparing to absorb the Dominus glyph only to have her seemingly jealous childhood friend, Albus, interrupt the ceremony and take the Dominus glyph himself. Having lost her memory as a result of Albus' attack, Shanoa starts her search for Albus in order to retrieve Dominus. The story's progression is fairly steady as you move through the game, with some twists along the way, as well as the discovery of the origin of Dominus' power. Entertaining but not particularly spectacular.
The graphics are really eye-popping for a DS game — from the fog that appears in some areas to the your magical attacks, everything looks great. There is a wide variety of areas to explore. They all have a unique look so there's no sense of you having been in the same area twice. Enemy sprites are also well-detailed and, breaking with tradition from past Castlevania titles, never recycled. While there is nothing about the soundtrack that is instantly memorable, the game's music is still very enjoyable, continuing the series' trend of excellent soundtracks.
As far as the gameplay needs to be concerned you only need to know one thing: this game is hard. At times it can be unforgivably hard. The new bosses are exceptionally difficult, which should be encouraging to hear for veteran fans of the series but will definitely end up turning away newcomers and casual gamers alike.
Everything looks great.Absorbing and attacking using glyphs feels very similar to soul-capturing, found in Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow. This is particularly bad, as there are fewer attacks to use as compared to those games. To offset this, you are able to combine glyphs together for more powerful attacks, although this only results in more powerful versions of the spell itself or elemental weapon attacks. There is very little variety in these combined attacks and that really discourages experimenting with glyph combinations. This was really a questionable gameplay choice and it really doesn't pay off that well.
Village missions help compensate. Early on in the game you'll come across a village where Albus has taken and imprisoned the villagers, and the elder of the village will implore upon you to go and rescue them. Rescuing villagers leads to performing various tasks for them, but there are some substantial rewards for completing them. It is really worth the effort to go through with these missions, even though the majority of them tend to be of the fetch-quest variety.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is something that you should definitely check out if you're a fan of the Castlevania series or are looking for a serious challenge. Anyone else should try looking for something else.