Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a Metroidvania with souls-like aspects. A tale of a young girl in a destroyed kingdom looking for answers and salvation. With the help of the fallen souls at her side, she might fight for her place in the world she finds herself in.
Ender Lilies is about a young mute girl with amnesia who awakens in a dilapidated lab. A death-bound knight, who’s soul is tied in service to the girl, informs her that she must venture out into the kingdom to restore her memories, and to find a way of purifying the Blight that is causing the inhabitants of the kingdom to become deformed monsters. Much of the story for Ender Lilies is told through scraps of paper and notes that you pick up along your journey, as well as memories recovered from the souls of the powerful warriors you defeat.
At its core, Ender Lilies is a sort of souls-like metroidvania hybrid, with the heavy focus on the metroidvania portion and sprinkled with light souls-like concepts. As a 2D exploration action-platformer style, you will be traveling through the kingdom exploring areas, collecting items and upgrades, and then returning to explore areas after acquiring new abilities, such is the metroidvania style. Unlike traditional metroidvanias however, Ender Lilies displays its reference to the souls-like genre by having you earn experience through defeated enemies, and upon death you get returned to the last checkpoint. Thankfully you keep everything you’ve earned before being death, as some of the items you can get are basically “one-way” roads.
So how does Ender Lilies play out? Well, a major focus will be on the combat, which is performed in a Castelvania Aria/Dawn of sorrow style. You have two sets of three abilities you can equip as attacks, some which consume “uses” (such as a firebolt) and some that are infinite use (such as the starting sword attack). These abilities are tied to the bosses and powerful enemies you defeat, and instead of attacking yourself, you summon the souls of the purified bosses to attack for you. These abilities can be set at rest points and uses restored, as well as upgraded with any souls required for the upgrades you may find on your travels. These may be found in breakable boxes and jars, but are found in larger batches by collecting items and purifying the remains of dead monsters.
In addition to the six possible abilities you can equip with your acquired spirits, you also have the standard jump, as well as the dodge from the souls-like style. In fact, head to head combat and boss fights play a lot like the souls-like style, as you must dodge attacks while getting your own in, utilizing your invincibility time while dodging to avoid getting damaged. If you do get hit, it’s usually for a pretty big amount. If you’re having trouble getting through an area or beating a boss, it might be a good idea to explore a bit, find some upgrade materials, and maybe reconsider your equipment. While you do earn exp and can level, increasing max health and damage, most of your damage output will likely be a result of upgrading spirits or equipped relics helping in battle.
Relics are accessories you can equip that may be discovered as you explore, occasionally located in some really horrendous locations. Amongst items you can find while exploring, you can acquire: upgrade materials, health increases, relics, capacity increases, and healing upgrades. Yes, that’s right, souls-like healing as well. In fact, it might be a good idea to think of Ender Lilies as a metroidvania exploration with souls-like combat, especially given that common enemies respawn when resting at a save point. A good fit, I must say. So, capacity upgrades you may be wondering about. This is actually for the relics, as all relics have a cost, and you cannot equip more relics than your capacity allows. While you can build a fairly sizeable capacity, you do have o pay attention to whether you remembered to remove the utility effects in exchange for combat use relics before bosses. Guess who accidentally had half their capacity filled with exp increasing and water movement relics for the final boss fight? Yes, it was me.
At this point in my review, I want to impress a few things upon you readers. First up is that the game will let you know quite blatantly if you’re missing something. Each “room” or “area” on the map shows how many exits there are in the room, as well as if you’ve entered or exited them. Additionally, the map is colour coded for your convenience, with blue rooms indicated items you haven’t picked up or optional bosses you haven’t beaten yet. Major bosses are a “little” more mandatory, although it is possible to do minor sequence breaks.
I’m fairly certain the boss I beat second last was not intended to be fought so late in the game. Second thing to note is that you are never locked out of anything. Multiple endings? Can be acquired any time you want as long as you meet the requirements. Items and collectibles? Always accessible if you have the right movement abilities and relic combinations equipped. Enemies too tough? Well, git gud scrub. Everything is always available to you, and with rooms indicating “completion”, it becomes easy to work out where a possible item of optional boss you’re missing is.
This is also extremely convenient as you unlock a fast travel option early on, allowing you to travel between rest points, and there are a fair number of them. While you are out exploring, you also have the option to open the menu and simply select the option to return to a rest point, keeping everything that you’ve collected. This was really handy when I was going for the 100% map completion, walked into a room fairly out of the way, collected the items I needed, and then could instantly return to the rest point. Very handy. Accompanying you on your journey, you will find both a plethora of environs as well as suitable soundtracks to accompany. Or in less poncey terms, nice art and good music.
One of my key gripes with any Metroidvania style game is the soundtrack. If I’m stuck in an area for five hours trying to solve a puzzle or find a hidden item, the soundtrack better not make me want to murder somebody whenever I hear it after I’m done. Thankfully, Ender Lilies has a really well crafted soundtrack, and some stunning visuals to pair with it. Ender Lilies has some really nice music pieces, some of which have a wonderful piano accompaniment. When played along with the visuals of the world you are exploring, the presentation paints as much of a picture of the world as the scattered notes you find throughout your journey.
As much as I fell in love with Ender Lilies almost instantly, there were a few faults that I noticed through my time with it. The first, and arguably most important, has to do with the movement mechanics. Well, sort of. When you unlock the ability to move freely in water, you can also swim up waterfalls/water columns. Water columns that I thought for the longest time were just background decoration. Similar, there are these chains in the sunken coven that I thought were background but really weren’t. Literally me not noticing this added about two hours to my play time of trying to figure out what to do.
The next issue I discovered had to do with attack timing. Some of the bosses have moves that have a big wind-up, but no real tell as to when it’s releasing the attack, meaning you’ll probably dodge too early or too late until you learn the moves. Some moves, however, hit you before the attack animation actually plays. The boss of the catacombs is particularly egregious for this, as I died a few times, and watched the attack play out AFTER I had already died. While it isn’t too hard to adjust for since the move has a clear tell, it is a little frustrating. Finally, I did have an issue with the camera twice, where I either fast traveled or returned to a safe area, and the camera was off in left field for some reason. Returning to the rest area again or leaving reset it, but it was interesting. Only happened twice though, and never in an area with enemies, so that’s good.
Overall, Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is an absolutely stellar hybrid of 2D Metroidvania exploration and souls-like combat rolled into a wonderfully artistic package. With tough but smooth combat, exploration that feels both fulfilling and challenging, a beautiful art style and soundtrack, as well as an endearing story, Ender Lilies really captures a lot of great aspects. It’s incredibly hard to pick out any real issues with Ender Lilies other than personal preference, but it is really easy to recommend to anyone looking for either a Metroidvania or Souls-like. A great package that has come together magnificently, Ender Lilies will not leave you disappointed.Score: 9 / 10