Ender Lilies Review – Ghostly Souls-Like in a Ruined World
Developed by Live Wire, Adglobe
Published by Binary Haze Interactive
Available on PC, Nintendo Switch
The 2D souls-like has kind of become a subgenre on it’s own. Salt and Sanctuary, Blasphemous, Hollow Knight. They’re everywhere. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Quite the opposite, really. I think that 2D souls-likes are necessary. In the realm of 3D souls-likes, the original Souls series are king. You’d be hard pressed to find a 3D souls-like that hits the heights of Dark Souls. Some come close, for sure, but none are there yet. When you get into 2D though, it’s a whole different ball game. There is no point of reference. It’s a synthesis of the good ideas of Dark Souls, with just one dimension removed. It allows for a lot of freedom in how the game is handled.
Ender Lilies is up there with “good 2D souls-like games”. It presents a decaying world, with a dark fantasy setting. You play as Lily. Lily is a young girl who has remained in a stasis-like sleep below a church. You awaken to an absolutely bonkers world. The rain has come. The rain was an event that changed almost every living thing into a horrifying mockery of what it was before. Broken creatures wander the land, with only a desire to kill moving them forward. You are just a young girl. You have a bit of an ace in your pocket though.
Lily is a white priestess. She can purify blighted and ruined creatures. She can make them allies in some cases. You’re woken by an umbral knight, a spirit that implores you to get up and get to work. As Lily, you cannot attack enemies. That’s the knight’s job. You control Lily as she moved around the world, and by hitting the attack button the umbral knight will lash out at enemies. It’s pretty cool. At first I thought it would be annoying. I figured the umbral knight was hard to keep track of in relation to Lily’s hit box. I was wrong. It works fine.
The gameplay is a fairly standard souls-like affair. You’ll attack, dodge, parry, and backstep to get a leg up on monsters. There is platforming. You’ll be able to explore and solve mysteries and unlock new items to help you along. Soon, you’ll come across your first boss and get an idea of what Ender Lilies is going to do. The boss is Siegrid, a warrior nun who used to protect Lily. She’s gone absolutely mad after years of bloodshed. Unfortunately you have to put her down. After she’s defeated, her soul will join you on your mission. There are no weapons in Ender Lilies. You’ll be using the souls of defeated enemies for attacks. Siegrid provides an AoE attack that works pretty well for some of the early game enemies.
The souls you have collected can be tied to 3 different face buttons. You can attack with the umbral knight, and then tap another button and get Siegrid’s attack in there. Eventually you’ll have so many souls that you’ll need to set up a separate loadout for them. Thankfully, Ender Lilies lets you do this. I don’t want to spoil the later souls you get. I will say that Siegrid remains super useful for quite awhile. Checkpoints are handled by benches scattered through the world. They’ll be the bonfires of Ender Lilies. You can sit and reflect. All of the souls you collected will materialize and stand around the bench looking all cool. It’s a fun visual shorthand to show you just how many you’ve collected.
The bosses are hard. I mean really hard. The upside is the bosses usually result in a new soul, which means a new attack. It’s kind of like Mega Man. Every boss defeated is a new power at your disposal to take on a new area. You can sit at the bonfire bench and use materials collected in the world to upgrade these souls. It’s nice that souls you collect earlier in the game won’t get outclassed by new, shinier souls. I was upgrading Siegrid way past the point where I could have switched her out for a different, newer soul. I didn’t want to, and the game doesn’t make me.
All in all, Ender Lilies is a worthy entry to the pantheon of souls-likes. If you crave a fun, difficult 2D platformer, then Ender Lilies definitely has something on hand for you.