Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) Review


When I picked up my first Castlevania game, I didn’t know what to expect outside of the basic premise of the story. Little did I know, the series is actually very similar to one of my favourite Nintendo franchises, Metroid – providing the player with an open world and allowing them to travel as far as their equipment takes them. Needless to say, I was hooked.

When I heard that Castlevania was coming to DS in the form of Dawn of Sorrow, I was excited and, needless to say, the game impressed. Portrait of Ruin then followed and introduced some interesting gameplay mechanics, but was ultimately disappointing. Then the first screenshots of Order of Ecclesia leaked on the internet, depicting a much more mature art style and an all new female protagonist. I was interested, and now I have in my hands Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. How does it play? It’s probably one of the best Castlevania games ever. Order of Ecclesia takes place after fan favourite, Symphony of the Night. Those who are up with their Castlevania mythos will know that the Belmont Clan we all know and love have since vanished, leaving several organisations to take the role of exploring similar (but not exact) alternatives to garlic to keep the dark lord Dracula at bay. One of those organisations, as you may have guessed, was the Order of Ecclesia.

What was so promising about Ecclesia’s research was that they created glyphs (named Dominus) designed to be strong enough to vanquish Dracula. Anyway, fast forward and Barlowe, the leader of Ecclesia, chooses Shanoa to receive the Dominus. However, the ritual is interrupted by a jealous Ecclesia member, Albus, and Shanoa is stripped of her powers and loses her memory (oh, how original). Either way, Shanoa is then sent on a quest to retrieve the Dominus for Ecclesia, but naturally gets entangled in yet another attempt to revive Dracula.

The first thing you’ll notice about Order of Ecclesia is that the graphics haven’t really progressed a great deal since Portrait of Ruin. Shanoa’s sprite is awfully detailed, however, and her movements are very well animated, adding a great deal of character to an otherwise silent, moving collection of pixels. The environments, however, are quite impressive. One amazing level that still sticks in my mind is an outdoor level set in a dock, where a violent thunderstorm is rocking a large ship in the background, while in the foreground are several mermen (a trademark for the series) swimming underneath Shanoa’s platforms and pouncing at her. There’s just so much going on at the same time, and it really is a sight to behold. The art style has also been changed from the previous anime style to something a little more adult (and thank god for that).

If you’ve ever heard and understood the term Metroidvania, you’ll probably know how Order of Ecclesia plays. The easiest way to describe it, perhaps, is as a combination of RPG elements with a heavy emphasis on adventure and platforming. While in previous games, the gameplay area was one massive map with little to no “gaps”, Order of Ecclesia allows players to travel from area to area. While this does “break up” the whole map, it essentially allows for more variety in the environments and quite honestly the game does get better because of it. Players do not need to fret; however, as there is still the old school Metroidvania-style gameplay that Castlevania fans know and love.

The combat system in Order of Ecclesia, however, is a little bit different. It works in a similar way to the soul system seen in Dawn of Sorrow. Upon defeating an enemy, Shanoa can absorb their glyphs into the glyph on her back, absorbing their power. Different enemies yield different powers, with the first couple being different kinds of swords. Shanoa can equip two glyphs to her arms and one to her back. Most of the arm glyphs are swords and other kinds of weaponry and can be used in tandem for quicker combos. Back glyphs usually are the exploration glyphs that unlock new areas in old environments – one of which is a kind of magnetic field that can be used to grapple certain points and propel Shanoa in all kinds of directions. All the powers are pretty well executed and make for some brilliant boss battles and combat. All of Shanoa’s powers, however, come at a cost. For standard attacks, a gauge is drained depending on how powerful the attack is and then recharges shortly thereafter. For Glyph Union attacks which cause more damage, however, the attacks draw on Shanoa’s “hearts”. The combat system really isn’t any different to previous Castlevania games, but the combo system and the Glyph Union attacks breathe some fresh life into the mechanics.

Castlevania has always been quite a high quality production in regards to its soundtrack and Order of Ecclesia is no different. The sound design for this game is fantastic, fitting the Transylvanian music that we know and love from the series. The voice acting, although featured only briefly, is no better than previous games (IE. It’s terribly cheesy) but it is a nice touch, none the less. Needless to say, the soundtrack will make you feel like you’re in your very own Dracula style movie and it really adds to the immersion of the title, something a lot of handheld titles have trouble in pulling off.

In terms of longevity, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia does not disappoint. There are a total of 20 areas to slay your way through as Shanoa, and even then, after completing Order of Ecclesia, the fun does not stop. There is an additional mode with a brand new playable character, which has his own set of combat mechanics. In addition, the title supports Nintendo WiFi Connection to allow for versus play as well as to trade items too. Finally, when Castlevania Judgment is released on the Nintendo Wii, players will be able to use their copy of Ecclesia to unlock a playable Shanoa in Judgment (I’ll keep my opinion reserved with her physical appearance in Judgment, though). All in all, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, assuming you’re interested in the gameplay, of course.


Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is one of those titles that comes along and literally leaves you speechless. The game is a brilliant example of how platforming titles on the DS should be done, and to be quite honest, it fuels my need for a Metroid title on the DS. Order of Ecclesia has an intriguing story, well designed characters and a brilliantly crafted combat engine that makes it one of those games that almost everyone should give a try regardless of whether they like the series or not. The story is fairly self-contained too, so people should have no trouble jumping in if this is their first Castlevania title. I eagerly await where the Castlevania team take their series next.

Graphics 9.0

Gameplay 9.0

Sound 8.0

Tilt 9.0

Value 9.9

Our Verdict
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Our Rating
User Rating
You have rated this
What's your reaction?
Oh wow!
About The Author
James Mitchell
Avid gamer since I was as young as three years old when I received my first NES. Currently studying full time and consider myself a balanced gamer. Enjoy games on all systems, from all genres, on all platforms. Sometimes feels like he's too optimistic for this industry.

You must log in to post a comment