There’s something to be said for knowing your limitations and just doing what you do well. While it has taken a few forays into the polygonal realm, it seems that the Castlevania series has found its home on handhelds, having had success in recent years on both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. Series producer Koji Igarashi took the stage at Konami’s San Francisco press event last night to give us a first look at Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, which looks to make some interesting deviations from the formula, but without sacrificing the stuff that makes Castlevania what it is.
For starters, no Belmonts. The famous vampire hunting family has apparently gone missing, leaving Dracula to cause a loud ruckus without anyone to whip him to death. A number of organizations spring up to combat Dracula, though the only one that’s found any success is the titular order of Ecclesia, which harnesses the power of glyphs to fight Dracula’s undead scourge. In particular, there’s a raven-haired woman named Shanoa who belongs to the Order, who is able to absorb the glyphs into her body, and it’s as Shanoa that you’ll fight the forces of Dragula. That’s right, a lady!
The glyph system will represent a fundamental change for Castlevania, as it seems to replace any traditional weapons or magic attacks you might have. So instead of arming Shanoa with an actual, physical rapier, you’ll arm her with a rapier glyph, which she can use to summon a rapier for the duration of her attack. The upside is that you can arm multiple glyphs at once, with different combinations revealing different, sometimes devastating abilities. Igarashi showed that if you arm that rapier glyph to both her right and left arms, she can attack much more quickly, or if you arm her with both a light and a dark glyph, it can create a huge explosion.
He also showed off a special glyph that created a magnetic ring around Shanoa, allowing her to gravitate towards special metal pegs, and then slingshot her way from one peg to another, which he made sound like a significant gameplay element. Most of the glyphs we saw were given to Shanoa by the Order, but certain enemies carry glyphs with them, which you can absorb directly. The catch is that using glyphs will drain your magic meter, and once it’s tapped, you have to wait for it to regenerate, which could be mighty inconvenient in the middle of a fight with a giant crab or Frankenstein’s monster.
Beyond the glyph stuff, Order of Ecclesia promises online support in the form of head-to-head competition, as well as the ability to buy and sell gear collected in the game. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia wasn’t playable at the event, but with the game’s Fall 2008 release date, I don’t expect we’ll have to wait too much longer.