Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist - PC(Steam) Preview

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist by developer Adglobe and Live Wire and publisher Binary Haze InteractivePC(Steam) preview written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Once more do we delve into a kingdom of inflicted madness. Once more do we fight to save the souls of those who have succumbed to the Fumes. Set decades after the events of Ender Lilies, we finally get to take a look at the next title in the series: Ender Magnolia.

Ender Magnolia is a game I was super excited to hear the announcement for. In fact, a few days before I heard about it, I was actually talking to someone how I wanted a sequel to Ender Lilies. Well, here we are now, taking a preview look at the Early Access version of exactly that: Ender Magnolia. Needless to say, I almost immediately got into things. Fair warning if you're looking at getting the Early Access version, Ender Magnolia has limited content for the Early Access, so you may have to wait a bit before the full release to play the whole game. 

For the most part, Ender Magnolia is very similar to Ender Lilies to help give a good idea about how things will work. Good news for you guys, I actually went back and played 100% through Ender Lilies again when I ran out of Ender Magnolia content, the whole 100% map and achievement too, so I can compare them pretty well for you.

Ender Magnolia features a storyline somewhat similar to Ender Lilies. You are a young girl who awakens in a dilapidated lab, sporting a rather spotty memory issue, who shortly afterwards encounters a "spirit knight" who also has amnesia to help you fight your way out of the lab and complete your goals. Now, where Ender Lilies had spirits, Ender Magnolia has Homunculi. More of a flavour text swap than anything, but the difference here is how enemy bosses are dealt with. In Ender Lilies you purify the spirits and can use their abilities. In Ender Magnolia you tune the Homunculi to get rid of their madness, and they then offer you their services. Pretty similar, but it is nice to see your "spirits" are more "alive" now.

Speaking of more alive, there are actually living people in Ender Magnolia! You can talk to them, solve some of their problems, and even purchase accessories and items! It makes the world you explore feel a little more "alive" too, and also lends some weight to your actions trying to resolve the issues around the Fumes and the madness overtaking the homunculi.

So let's talk about the gameplay. Those coming from Ender Lilies, be glad to know the gameplay is pretty much the same, with a few tweaks. For those new, Ender Magnolia is a 2D Metroidvania title with soulsborne-like aspects. You have your different attacks that can be assigned based on what homunculi you've tuned, and they can be assigned to different buttons. Unlike Ender Lilies, at least in the Early Access content, the homunculi you can use do not have a "usage limit" between resting, which wasn't a big deal for me in Ender Lilies, but I imagine some people would find annoying.

Additionally, the homunculi have different forms that their attacks can take, requiring specific materials to unlock and upgrade. For example, your first homunculi companion has a default sword mode, but can unlock a scythe or an axe mode, the latter of which is somewhat reminiscent of the hammer from Ender Lilies, just with more upward swing. In a cool little addition, you also get a preview video of the ability so you can see how it works before upgrading to it.

You will be fighting enemies, opening gates and doors to unlock new areas, and fighting enemies. Along the way you will be leveling up and collecting items, equipment, and a sort of currency. Combat is action oriented, where you can dodge around, jump, and attack to break an enemy's guard or to outright kill them. Guard breaking works on both normal enemies and bosses, and will give you an opening to punish them while they are stunned. You have a set number of healing item uses as well, which will replenish when you rest in a safe area, as well as restoring all the enemies you've beaten, excluding the bosses.

Now, for those of you who are completionists like me, I'm happy to note that not only has the map system come back, where areas you have 100% in change colour, but it's been improved. All areas you pass through now actually show the area reflected on the map screen, with additional notes made when you come across something, such as a note, locked door, or obstacle you haven't cleared, and are clearly indicated on the map. Additionally, when you've done everything in an area, the map turns from a dull grey to a blue colour, indicating you've done everything there.

I mentioned this earlier, but upgrading your Homunculi in Ender Magnolia is a bit different. By completing sidequests, beating bosses, or opening chests, you may discover certain parts that can be used in the Homunculi. Different parts are associated to different types of Homunculi, and you can upgrade multiple times, requiring multiple parts. A few things to note. First off, in addition to your standard attack mode, you have three slots for other Homunculi abilities. Additionally, unlike in Ender Lilies, you only have one command set, at least in Early Access, not sure if that'll change for the full release. Finally, while upgrading a weapon to a different move type doesn't prevent you from using the other move types as long as they are unlocked, you cannot assign the same Homunculi to two different slots, even with different attack types.

So, let's talk equipment. You now have four equipment slots in addition to relics. Relics fill in relic slots, and will provide some form of passive ability, such as reducing ability cooldown or increasing experience earned. The equipment comes as: Carapace, two bracelet slots, and an assist slot. While only bracelets are available so far, or at least that's all I've managed to get, equipment seems to focus more on increasing stats, as opposed to providing a passive effect.

Next up is another new aspect: currency! That's right, you can "buy" things. Well, craft them really. Instead of souls, you pick up scraps that can be turned into items and equipment. We can also now fast travel from anywhere to any rest location while interacting with your map, which is a nice quality of life improvement. For the last new implementation, you can now run if you hold the dodge button after performing a dodge. Yay faster movement!

Once again, we have a package nicely wrapped in a beautiful aesthetic. With gorgeous art style, as well as an emotional and engaging soundtrack, I was super excited to get into the Early Access of Ender Magnolia. My only complaint? I wanted more! You only have access to the first few areas, but I want to keep playing more, exploring more. So hopefully you're like me, and are super excited for when the full release finally comes out! I can assure you, I'll be on it in an instant.

Score: N/A



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