Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

JP: Akumajō Dracula: Ubawareta Kokuin
Developed in Japan by Konami
Published by Konami
Released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia redresses a decline in difficulty that has been pestering the series since Symphony of the Night provided the modern blueprint. It’s not as tough as the older Castlevania games, but strikes a fine combination of difficulty (enemies that hit hard) and challenge (a modest combat system and bosses that work with deep playbooks). The real question: Where is the content? Modern Castlevania games have long recycled their art assets, but Ecclesia shatters new boundaries for “Why do I feel like I’ve already been in this room?” The “single gigantic castle” model is replaced with an overworld and smaller levels, a number of which have little reason to ever be visited again. The game then attempts to obfuscate this lack of variety with a town hub and its citizen-questgivers, an homage to 1988’s Castlevania: Simon’s Quest that presents few new or interesting challenges for playing the game. As a result, in spite of some good combat, Ecclessia can feel much like its protagonist: Lifeless and sterile.