Steam Early Access has been a massively positive addition to the PC indie genre, as people can try out a game at a usually lesser price, and at the same time help the developers with some extra revenue which they will be able to work more and finish the game. Obviously not all the titles on Early Access end up as finished projects or successful ones, but some of these games are some proper diamonds in the rough. Ender Lilies, from Live Wire and Binary Haze Interactive, is one such gem.
Ender Lilies is a 2D sidescrolling platform title where you control Lily, a woman who awakens in a church with nothing. Upon waking up you start venturing out of the church with the help of the first spirit who will aid you in battle. These spirits are what make up your weapons to fight off the evil Blighted who litter your way along your journey to find the Priestess of the Fount, a legendary figure in Land’s End, the world where Ender Lilies takes place.
These spirits are found as you progress throughout the game, but you have to defeat these first as they come at you as enemies. Once defeated, Lily will then purify these beings and make them allies, each with their own unique ability which will aid in combat and in some cases even in platforming throughout the world. Spirits acquired can then be managed in Rest Areas, where you may equip up to two sets of three spirits each.
Some of these enemies are part of Ender Lilies‘ story, so they must be defeated in order to progress and gain access to their abilities. A couple of these boss fights are optional too, where you need to go off the main route to find these spirits. Defeating them will gain you their powers as well, and while not completely game breaking, the powers earned are definitely very precious assets towards your goal of completing the game.
Players can then swap between these two sets on the fly with the R1 button, giving essentially access to six attack spirits at one go. You can also have two different configurations, one for grounded combat and another for anti-air, as some attacks have a much higher hit range than others, making them ideal for fighting airborne enemies. Spirit uses are also divided into limited and unlimited, and the difference pretty much explains itself in that some attacks have limited uses while others do not.
As mentioned previously, one can equip the different spirits unlocked at rest areas, but there are also other actions one can do in these points. Apart from saving, one can choose to upgrade your unlocked spirits with consumables found throughout the game, a currency which is rather scarce, meaning players should use carefully with the spirits they are most frequently using.
Fast Travel is also permitted from rest areas, and it becomes vital once players have progressed quite a ways into the game as the map is rather large, making navigating from area to area extremely tedious without the ability to teleport to a rest area of choice. Lastly, Relics can be equipped in these areas as well.
Relics function pretty much like normal equipment in RPGs – you have a limited number of slots and as you progress, you will find items that give different bonuses to stats or other areas for Lily, so once again it is suggested that relics are equipped depending on a player’s playstyle and not just on how good the advantage they offer is.
Ender Lilies is a great example of platforming and combat done right, though both of these pale in comparison to how incredible the soundtrack is. A wonderful score made of predominantly piano but other soothing instruments creates a marvellous melody to accompany players throughout Lily’s journey through the haunting environments of Land’s End.
Composed by Japanese band Mili, already known for composing music for the Goblin Slayer anime, the music of Ender Lilies is stunning. Already from the trailer and Early Access versions of the game one could tell this is something special, but the full game delivers even more beautiful tracks, taking the game from a number of separate strengths to a single, superior spectacle. The score could very easily compete with Nier: Replicant for Soundtrack of the Year, and that is saying something.
Luckily, the soundtrack is already available on Spotify through this link, and interested in the game or not, I heavily suggest giving it a listen. The experience will not be as intense as when playing of course, but it will still deliver chills upon listening the first time, and even the second.
If there is one minor aspect which I did not like in Ender Lilies, it would be the fact that although you use spirits to attack, you cannot dodge before the attack animation is complete. Then again, the game is not meant to be played in a hack and slash way, but picking your time with attacks and dodging, but it sometimes feels very frustrating to use a projectile attack and not be able to dodge when your opponent is in your face.
Other than this minor issue, the remainder is a glorious ensemble of graphics, mechanics and music to create a symphony unlike no other. Ender Lilies is a terrific example of a game that wears its heart on its sleeve, and delivers an incredibly rewarding experience throughout its different endings, which give the game even more replayability; a further excuse to enjoy the bliss of its soundtrack again and again.
Visit the game’s Steam page and consider purchasing it. At its price, it’s a steal.
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