Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights – Death, It Comes For Us All
PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
I’ve been thinking a lot about the destruction of the human race lately.
It’s not like it’s an easy topic to avoid. The planet is on the brink of climate collapse. Every day we continue to live, our existence is threatened by weapons that could incinerate billions within a few short hours. Each year that passes sees the ability to live decently become further unattainable for more and more of us.
The thing linking all of these existential crises is that they are all the result of mankind’s hubris. We collectively as a species pursue a dream of progress forever out of our grasp, without real consideration for the repercussions of such actions. We tell ourselves it has to be this way, justifying our march toward destruction with some ideal of becoming better, stronger, richer. An ideal ultimately inconsequential in the face of death.
Ender Lilies is an all-consuming sorrowful experience. Every corner of its dank caverns and unnatural forests ooze with intent twisted, nature and artifice congealing into a reflection of what humanity has become in the face of an unknowable enemy. The rain of death soaks dilapidated furniture through collapsed roofs. Eerie melodies hang in the air with intense melancholy.
A Metroidvania in all that encompasses that moniker, protagonist Lily awakens within the tomb of a church, an ancient pact-bound husk of a knight awaiting her rise. Exploring out into a town and castle, undead knights, ravens and witches challenge your carefully timed dodges and slashes. Death touches everything in this land. Especially you.
Lily is a child of light, able to purify spirits of the rot that plagues them. Yet, she is still a child. If you pay close enough attention to the meticulous animation work, dodges are marked by an awkward dive, while attacks – performed not by her, but by the growing collection of reanimated spirits bound to her like any regular weapon of steel – are met with eyes shut tight and palms outstretched in hopeless defence.
Wandering a carefully laid out world, meeting obstacles that require a double jump or piercing lance, you slowly become the master of this space. As you accumulate power and ability, areas that once took your life, again and again, become spaces to breeze through. A lost world, conquered.
Snippets of the past are shared through fragments of memory, each one of a time of conflict. Humanity came to these shores anticipating the “necessity” to overthrow and colonize. A king doing everything in his power to make a home for his people. Everything.
At the gates of civilisation, the blight came, nothing living able to escape its grasp. Tragedy fills the halls of haven. A woman long awaits the return of a lover, a man deprived of continued existence eternally resting just outside her domicile. A knight consumed by single-minded hatred slays his perceived foe, seeing naught but a monster sitting before him.
Everyone, from the peasant sister to the saviour of all, doom all of us in the end. The undead claim this land. That is, until the one surviving human ventures forth from her crypt.
The unfolding of Ender Lilies hits several stopping points, A, B, C. Each one brings further satisfaction in their mastery and storytelling.
Yet no matter how many undead are slain, how insistent the pursuit of a world cleansed, it’s impossible to shake. Death lies around every corner; destruction inevitable in its entirety. There is intense sorrow in the air – existential dread seeps deep into the bone. At least while there is one still left living to feel it.