Castlevania: Order of Eccelsia may look like the last two Castlevanias to hit the DS, but this one is definitely the most fresh. I liked Portrait of Ruin a lot, but the game didn’t really do much to further the gameplay from Dawn of Sorrow. Order of Ecclesia does a lot, and you notice it early on in the game. While I’m a Castlevania fan, I came away much more impressed than I expected to be.
We’ve already seen countless hands-on and previews, so I’ll go into detail about why I feel this game steps up the series. First off, the idea of collecting Glyphs for weapons actually feels new and fun. Wandering about the various locations, you’ll come across Glyphs just waiting to be sucked up. By pressing up on the control pad, you’ll suck these Glyphs into your body. From there on, you’ll obtain a new ability or weapon. The first Glyph I obtained outside of the game’s beginning was the one you’ve seen in multiple trailers. This particular Glyph allows you to attack yourself to suspended pegs, and then you can propel yourself off these pegs by using momentum. These help you reach all sorts of new places while you are exploring. I can only hope that the Glyphs that you come across later on are as inventive as this.
Combat feels completely new, thanks to two elements. First off, you have the dual-wield ability that allows you to create combos with button trade-offs. Attach a Glyph to your left and right arms, then press X and Y in succession to attack one right after the other. It keeps combat quick, and entertaining. On top of that, hold down both buttons and press up to use a special attack. These will all change depending on the Glyphs you have equipped. I’m sure there will be a ton of combinations to find, which is part of the fun. Mixing/matching Glyphs is definitely going to become an obsession.
Going hand-in-hand with your attacks is the MP gauge. Since these Glyphs are magical representations of real weapons, you spend MP everytime you use them. While this may seem like a hassle, it’s actually a great mechanic. Your MP gauge will refill quickly with just a short pause, and you can extend your MP gauge by collecting power-ups that you come across. For the first boss battle, I laid into the enemy with combos as much as I could, which would eventually deplete all of my MP. You then have to take a few seconds and play the defensive while you wait for the meter refill. Like I said, once the refill kicks in, it takes less than a second to fully recharge. This new mechanic is such a great way to add another layer of strategy to the game.
I was going to buy Order of Ecclesia no matter what. I love the series, and I really enjoy the DS versions. After my playtime with the title, I have even more reason to be excited. We finally get an entry in the franchise that really feels like its spicing things up a bit. It took a long time to get some sizeable evolution, but it looks like the wait was worth it.