It’s been a bit of a wait for PlayStation owners looking to get their hands on Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights, but that wait is finally over. Published by Binary Haze Interactive and developed by Live Wire and Adglobe, the game is now available on all major consoles, having launched on Xbox and the Switch a month earlier.
Although described as a metroidvania or soulslike game in the leadup to its release, my thoughts when playing Ender Lilies went to a completely different kind of game: Ubisoft’s Child of Light. This had little to do with gameplay, but more with the fact that this is an action platform with a beautiful and atmosphere-rich audiovisual presentation. At the end of the day, that element is probably more what stuck with me more than the gameplay did – though I have very few complaints there as well.
Set in a fictional kingdom by the name of Land’s End, Ender Lilies casts you as a young princess named Lily after her home was sent into chaos by an evil entity called the “Blight” (no relation to Blightbound, as far as we know). Boss fights are prevalent and the biggest “soulslike” element of the game, as you free corrupted NPCs who have fallen to the blight and turned into horrible boss characters. Upon freeing them, they then turn into guardian spirits that will help you.
What’s interesting about the game’s combat is that a lot of it isn’t done by Lily, as you deal damage using your guardian spirits, all of which have their own combat abilities. You’ll unlock more of these (spirits and abilities) as the game goes on, and both Lily and her guardians can be upgraded through a variety of (hidden) pickups. Later guardians will have attacks that can’t be spammed because of a cooldown period as well, so there’s a nice range to what you can use in combat, letting you carve out your own battle tactics to a degree.
The guardian-based combat is undoubtedly the most standout feature of the gameplay, which is otherwise a fairly standard action platformer. There are plenty of bosses though, with nine major ones as well as a ton of smaller ones – with battles getting more challenging as you progress through the campaign. What’s consistent is that these boss fights reward being careful about how you go into combat, defending and evading first and learning when and how to strike afterwards. Although the guardians make combat play out differently, that element is definitely something that Ender Lilies borrows from Dark Souls.
But where the combat and gameplay are solid, it’s the visual style that’s absolutely stunning. A beautifully detailed 2D world paints a picture of a world now crumbling under the evil presence of the Blight. From lighting effects to changing weather conditions, this one’s a looker – and Lily’s presence represents a kind of hope for a brighter future, which is why it reminded me of Child of Light. Adding to the experience is a lovely and fitting soundtrack, though it would have been nice if Ender Lilies had also made use of voice acting to get its story and mood across.
Between the solid combat (which isn’t as punishing as the games it was inspired by) and the beautiful audiovisual storytelling, Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is one of this year’s best indie titles yet. The PlayStation port might have been a little later, but it was worth the wait.