|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Glyph system forces a change in player mentality and strategy. In past Castlevania games, if you couldn't get through an area, you leveled up your character or saved enough gold for the most powerful weapon. While you can still purchase items, they're mostly defensive, and leveling up your character won't guarantee victory. Instead, you have to learn the Glyph weaknesses of particular enemies. That's why you acquire the Glyph Sleeve early on - it allows you to have three Glyph load outs saved, which you can switch between on-the-fly.
Some may yearn for more traditional item dropping and leveling, but its from the Glyph system and plain old trial-and-error that Order of Ecclesia derives its difficulty - and difficult it truly is. Prepare to meet the "Game Over" screen often and we're not talking about after bosses; regular enemies will kill you. If you don't know their particular attack pattern and Glyph weakness, you better run scared - there's no Symphony of the Night poisonous gas cloud that's going to protect you. Normally a warning of difficulty would scare gamers, but like a proper old-school game, Order of Ecclesia's challenges, while initially frustrating, are trials of labor, not luck. A compromise with death is struck early as you realize the only way to beat bosses is to continually retry, as you use plain old memorization to learn all their attack animations.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia doesn't reinvent the Metroidvania wheel. Instead, it tweaks it - subtracting and adding where it chooses - for its own ends. The result is a game that pays homage to the classic hard-as-nails difficulty of entries of the more distant past while keeping and ever-so-slightly tweaking the mechanics of more recent titles. It's not a revolution in design, but refinement in the best sense, rewarding gamers with potentially the best DS Castlevania title yet.
CCC Freelance Writer