Of all the action-adventure platformers I have played, Ender Lillies have easily made the top five. This Metroidvania masterpiece is visually stunning. Featuring a beautiful soundtrack, and tells of a melancholy tale starring the last living priestess Lilly. Getting lost in the massive labyrinth, discovering new relics and items to power up. Engaging in thrilling combat has kept me immersed in this Gothic narrative. Ender Lillies is one of my favorite games to come out of this generation and actually got me back onto a platformer kick.
Poor Little Lilly
Lilly’s story is by far one of the saddest situations. She wakes up in her homeland, known as Lands End, only to find what could be called a zombie apocalypse. All the people have been transformed into undead blighted, and she alone as the last of her kind can cleanse them. She travels with the Umbral Knight, who engages in combat for her since she cannot fight herself. He serves as her protector and guides her through the ruins of her once beautiful home. Along the way, she finds more knights to join her crew to help fight the “Rain of Death” and end the blight.
Mix and Match Strategy
What stood out most to me is how unique each Knight’s ability is. As you fight with Lilly in exhilarating hack’n’slash combat, you can equip different knights to fight alongside you after you cleanse them. Each Knight is so different and unique, providing different strategies for different bosses. Only 6 can be equipped at a time (3 per menu that you change between), but mixing and matching makes it that much more fun. For example, the Merchant is a crow that can shoot from afar for ranged combat but shoots autonomously. While Headless Defender gives you a shield to block and counter-attacks. Each one utilizes specific skills that can be enhanced, which will either increase projectile amounts, attack bonuses, attack power, and more.
Atmosphere is Everything
The atmosphere in this game almost tells the story for you. Aside from the beautiful art style that captures the blight perfectly, the music enhances the will to fight. Each biome felt so distinct from one another, between an underwater labyrinth filled with deadly fish folk and minefields, to an insane castle in ruins with traps laid tactfully around every corner, and giant armored knights waiting to obliterate you. My favorite Biome was actually the undead crypt loke area that reminded me heavily of the catacombs in Dark Souls.
Another great feature of each area was all of the hidden relics and secret bosses. Each area required a new skill gained from killing bosses that became your knight spirits, creating incentives to revisit your previous expeditions. Whether it was a priestess’s wish to increase your hp or a new relic to enhance your abilities, each area was treacherous but also insanely fun to explore.
The game would have been perfect if not for the poor balancing between spirit knights. While each ability could cater towards an individual’s play style, some abilities just paled in comparison to others. I found myself mostly using the same few spirits, such as Merchant and Guardian Silva. Some abilities just felt lackluster and maybe could have been balanced better or just not added in. It felt like a quantity vs. quality scenario at times.
Ender Lillies felt like a masterpiece for the platforming genre. I have not experienced this much fun since Hollow Knight and Salt and Sanctuary. The souls-like Gothic setting mixed with fantastic gameplay made the game worth dumping nearly a hundred hours into.
Vibe Score: 9.5/10
Veteran gamer, tech nerd, comic addict, anime lover, and just your average introverted weeb.