By Jeriaska . July 15, 2008 . 10:30pm
The introduction to Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia unfolds through scrolling text and voice-over narration. The storyline is centered upon the Belmont clan’s decline in the 19th century, and the emergence of competing groups that train and research ways to fight Dracula. Among them is the Order of Ecclesia, which gains a foothold in vampire hunting through the secret art of forging glyphs. Barlowe, the head of the order, manages a breakthrough that allows his leading pupil Shanoa to be chosen as the secret weapon against Dracula.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the order is pleased with the plan. Barlowe’s pupil Albus is jealous of the heroine's rise to prominence, and has fled with the Order’s supreme glyph, called Dominus. In the opening dialog Barlowe alludes to Shanoa's once having had strong feelings for the deserter, but she has since had her memory stolen—another act of revenge on the part of Albus.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia will feature Wi-Fi support when it debuts in October, a month before Castlevania Judgment. This will include item trading and a two-player time attack mode that is reminiscent of Portrait of Ruin. The character designer this time out is Konami artist Masaki. His style is described as more labor intensive than previous Nintendo DS installments, signaling a transition from the anime-style artwork of recent portable entries back to the elegant, gothic feel of Symphony of the Night. While fans have long asked for a female protagonist, another reason for the decision, according to a Konami representative at E3, is that Masaki preferred drawing females.
Ecclesia's combat system is based on the glyphs Shanoa encounters. When the protagonist picks up a new glyph, she absorbs its power into markings visible on her shoulders. This story element is more noticeable in concept art than in the game itself. Activating one of the more innovative glyphs makes her magnetically attracted to certain objects overhead, allowing her to ascend through the air and thereby access new areas.
The first glyph to be encountered allows the player to equip a rapier to any of the X, Y, or A buttons. Shanoa can stand beneath the glyph and, by holding down the up button, she will be surrounded by light and absorb the item. Every time a glyph is used it takes up MP, or “mana points,” up to and including the rapier glyph. The green bar at the top of the screen empties a bit with each swipe of the blade and gradually refills.
Shanoa starts off behaving rather subserviently, answering “As you say, sir” to Barlowe’s requests. The character's lack of personality at the game’s start may be attributable to her loss of memory, and producer Koji Igarashi says that Shanoa's sadness plays an important thematic role in the title. After the backstory to Ecclesia has been explained, Barlowe begins you on a brief course of "basic training," summoning a group of skeletons from the ground. Defeating the enemies, you can make your way out of Ecclesia and onto the world map. The next destination is a monastery where you can gather clues about where to find Albus and the missing glyph.
Images courtesy of Konami