Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist | Early access review

by on April 1, 2024

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights was arguably one of the best Metroidvania games released in 2021. It told the story of Lily, a young priestess making her way through a dark, apocalyptic fantasy world decimated by a mysterious phenomenon called the “Rain of Death”. As an Attuner, Lily was able to assimilate the souls of vanquished warriors into herself, calling upon them to fight for and protect her. In Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist, the role of Attuner passes to Lilac, a girl born miles away and years after the events of the first game.

Having just entered early access, there are only around 4 hours of the early game available to play right now, which makes the £14.99 pricetag seem pretty fair. And if joint developers Adglobe and Live Wire can keep adding content of the same quality, Ender Magnolia is a genuinely solid investment.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist

Set in the Land of Fumes, the story follows Lilac as she crosses a perilous land where science and magic have created the Homunculi, lifelike organic automata built for various means. Most have been driven mad by bizarre toxins in the air which have set them against one another and humanity, so Homunculi are now creatures to be feared and persecuted. As an Attuner, Lilac can cleanse their spirits, absorbing them into herself.

Although there are only around half a dozen such bosses in the early access portion, Adglobe and Live Wire promise as many more. At any given time Lilac can “equip” up to four Homunculi, receiving their powers as a result. The first two you meet, Nola and Lito, are a swordswoman and fighter, respectively. The former allows Lilac a basic attack combo, while the latter has a powerful punch attack that can devastate enemies.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist

Before long you’ll meet others whose powers you can also equip and upgrade as you progress, allowing for a large amount of diversity and even build potential. Not only that, but Lilac will steadily unlock new traversal moves like any good Metroidvania, allowing her to double jump, air dash, clear blockades, and more besides. Early on you’ll unlock a fast travel option that lets you move quickly between rest spots.

There are elements of the Soulslike genre in here, too. Enemies respawn when you rest or die, and you can only level up and swap Homunculi at rest points, forcing you to think about what kind of enemies and obstacles you might face.

The world of Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist is gorgeous. The aesthetics have had a shot in the arm since Ender Lilies, with smoother animation, more detailed character models, and even more macabre, atmospheric environments. But the real improvements are in the combat and movement. Lilac has a dodge move, while all attacks come courtesy of her Homunculi companions, but it’s incredibly smooth and responsive. Many Metroidvanias are made or broken by the feel of their mechanics, and Ender Magnolia is a joy to play.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist

On occasion the sound can fall behind a little, and sound effects can chime in a few seconds after they should, which is annoying but not a major issue – and will certainly be fixed during the early access period. Beyond that, though, Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist feels complete – until you hit an early access cut-off point, of course. There are a few alternate routes and side bosses to tackle at present, but you’ll likely be done inside 4 hours for now.

Being a short experience during early access is hardly a major problem, but it is reason enough to advise waiting on a few updates before diving in, hitting a wall, and having to wait. What’s here is extremely polished for the most part, though, so if you find you can’t wait, you won’t be disappointed by the quality on offer.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist is now in Steam early access, and available for £14.99.