Ender Magnolia Review (Early Access) | A Blooming Sequel

86
Story
8
Gameplay
9
Visuals
10
Audio
9
Value for Money
7
Price:
$ 20
Clear Time:
3 Hours
Ender Magnolia, in early access, is a promising Metroidvania that has all the signs of releasing as one of the best games in its genre. It has a gripping exposition, a smooth and customizable combat system, stunning visuals, and fantastic music. Considering the developers’ background and the colorful reputation of its predecessor, it’s well worth the time and effort following this game as it inches closer to a full release.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist is an action Metroidvania and Binary Haze Interactive’s follow-up to Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Review Overview

What is Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist?

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist is a Metroidvania set years after the events of the highly-acclaimed Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights. Vicious homunculi, tainted by the effects of the magic-saturated mist, roam the world in a destructive march. But Lilac, an “Attuner” who can restore the sanity of the homunculi around her, sets off to save their race. She is closely followed and assisted by those she saves and gradually creates a powerful group that can perhaps reshape the world.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist features:
⚫︎ An incredible exposition to a gripping story
⚫︎ Extremely customizable gameplay
⚫︎ Beautiful visuals faithful to the plot
⚫︎ Exciting boss fights with engrossing backstories behind each
⚫︎ Breathtaking musical pieces
⚫︎ Lots of hidden content

For more gameplay details, read everything we know about Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist's gameplay and story.

Steam Platform IconSteam Store $19.99

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Pros & Cons

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Pros Cons
Checkmark Captivating Music
Checkmark Thoughtful Environmental Storytelling
Checkmark Tons of Customization
Checkmark Way Too Easy
Checkmark Predictably Lacks Content

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Overall Score - 86/100

Ender Magnolia, in early access, is a promising Metroidvania that has all the signs of releasing as one of the best games in its genre. It has a gripping exposition, a smooth and customizable combat system, stunning visuals, and fantastic music. Considering the developers’ background and the colorful reputation of its predecessor, it’s well worth the time and effort following this game as it inches closer to a full release.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Story - 8/10

There’s not enough content in Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist’s Early Access to properly rate its story. However, how it sets us up for a ride full of big reveals and surprising twists later on is already very promising. The game even has significant environmental storytelling to assist with worldbuilding.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Gameplay - 9/10

Ender Magnolia improves upon its predecessor’s already solid gameplay with many changes designed to improve quality of life, reduce complexity, and add build variety. Playing it is a great experience with intuitive combat, hidden passages, and rewarding boss fights. However, it does lack a challenge, even for the average Metroidvania player.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Visuals - 10/10

Keeping with the story’s dark theme, Ender Magnolia’s visuals depict a similarly bleak future with its ruined streets and ragged civilians. The combat visuals have also been revamped and feature a wide range of pleasing visual effects. The game's stages also provide an incredible amount of environmental storytelling. The developers have even improved the map display to make it much easier to use as a reference.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Audio - 9/10

Though the game deserves a lot of praise for its wonderful sound effects, it pales compared to the hauntingly beautiful tunes that serve as its background music. It’s enough to justify opening it just to let the music play while you do something else. However, its sound effects do lack some punchiness to them. On top of that, the game’s story cutscenes could use voice acting, which would do wonders for the resulting narrative experience.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Value for Money - 7/10

As of writing this review, Ender Magnolia possesses only about two or so hours of content accessible in its Early Access release. That’s far from enough content to justify its $19.99 asking price, regardless of the game’s quality. I imagine, though, that more content will be available soon. And if this game reaches the same scale as its predecessor, its value for money can easily achieve perfect or nearly perfect scores.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Review (Early Access): A Blooming Sequel

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As a big fan of Ender Lilies, I could already tell I would be biased when approaching this review. That’s because the moment I saw the trailer, I already knew it was going to be a great game. Fortunately, I didn’t experience much of that partiality as I played the early access version.

Because even without it, Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist proves itself worthy of Metroidvania fans’ attention — even without the glorious reputation of its predecessor influencing impressions.

The love and care behind the game’s design can be seen right at the very beginning, before controls are handed towards you, the player, where an extremely short, perhaps even unassuming, cutscene eases you into the role of Lilac, the main protagonist. The cutscene is graced by a gentle tune, which, along with the homely design of the characters and the ethereal lighting, invokes a sense of serenity for its viewers.

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But then, you finally enter the game proper, surrounded by dark red scrap and mangled structures—an ingenious reversal. From that short 30-second sequence with barely any dialogue, the game has not only laid out the goal but also wordlessly delivered a major story setting.

Its visuals and music closely align with the developers’ prudence in the game’s design. Not only are they beautiful by themselves, but they also work to serve their narrative purposes.

However, it’s not at all filled with sunshine and rainbows (figuratively speaking). The one major complaint I do have about the game is regarding the gameplay itself. While it is perhaps one of the most customizable Metroidvanias I’ve seen in its early stages, the lack of challenge it presents is a noteworthy issue.

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Many things can be attributed to it. For example, it may be due to the lack of collision damage. It could also be due to having very small maps, or it could also be because of the normal enemies’ very predictable attacks. Regardless, for someone who is only average at best with Metroidvanias to have only died once throughout the game and only due to impatience is pretty telling of the game’s difficulty.

It may also be because the early access version only allows players to run the game on the lowest difficulty level.

Other than that, Ender Magnolia is a delightful game that should be followed by any fan of the genre.

Pros of Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist

Things Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Got Right
Checkmark Captivating Music
Checkmark Thoughtful Environmental Storytelling
Checkmark Tons of Customization

Captivating Music

Games with music so good that you want to hear it even outside of playing the game rarely come along. While soundtracks are released to let players do just that, obtaining those is often simply the result of learning about their availability. Ender Magnolia’s music, on the other hand, can make you look for it on your own initiative.

The musical pieces by Mili truly give the series' theme and story justice. It’s haunting, powerful, and stirs the heart. And unfortunately, I can’t find the full song yet.

Thoughtful Environmental Storytelling

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With how little story-related content there is in Ender Magnolia, it’s much easier to appreciate the finer details that have made their way into the game’s stages. Each stage follows the story closely, subtly changing its bleak depictions of life within the Land of Fumes to deliver the narrative better. In turn, this amplifies the immersion immensely, making you feel much closer to the plot’s development as you keep playing.

Examples of this can be found right at the beginning of the game. As you progress through the ruins of the first stage, you find yourself surrounded by corpses and debris. However, as you come closer to a settlement, you start to encounter structures that are as intact as they are crude. Bodies are also much less frequent, given its proximity to the colony.

Instead, you can find yourself in areas where the residents waste their lives away, indicating the bitter hopelessness of their everyday lives.

The game seeks to put you in the Land of Fumes with Lilac and her companions. Its attention to detail makes that easy and the narrative much more compelling.

Tons of Customization

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Whether or not you enjoy matching equipment, customizing your moveset, collecting passive bonuses, or just engaging in combat and exploration, Ender Magnolia has something for you. In fact, the game foreshadows an extremely customizable gameplay experience, with your homunculi companions having multiple weapons to choose from, dozens of relic slots to use, four equipment slots to populate, and enhanceable abilities to invest in.

There are even outfits you can collect, which may or may not include additional abilities later.

Cons of Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist

Things That Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Can Improve
Checkmark Way Too Easy
Checkmark Predictably Lacks Content

Way Too Easy

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One notable threat that’s absent from this game is collision damage. The lack of collision damage is a glaring factor in the all-important boss fights. There, you can easily get away with scuffed dodges and even bait certain attacks from bosses by sticking to them between moves.

Outside of boss fights, the stretches between Respites, the game’s equivalent of Bonfires from Soulslike games, or just save spots for others, don’t offer much challenge. This can be attributed to a few factors, such as regular enemies’ attacks being extremely predictable or the relatively short distance between resting areas. While these can be fixed going forward, they are something you inevitably notice as you dive into the game early.

Predictably Lacks Content

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As of this review’s writing, Ender Magnolia has around two to three hours’ worth of content. Three major bosses, a handful of minibosses, and one NPC settlement can be accessed, along with a few hidden areas and a dozen or so collectible lore.

That’s not a lot of content, especially considering its price point.

Tumors, which are abominable growths that sprout from the walls and floor, block your access to the deeper parts of certain areas. These can either just be story-appropriate roadblocks that would be removed once the areas beyond them are complete or unlockable paths that would require an ability acquired later on.

Regardless, you’re limited to a very small area of the game, so don’t expect several hours’ gameplay just yet.

Is Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Worth It?

Questionable Now, Definitely Later

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Despite the lack of content, Ender Magnolia is already shaping up to be an amazing Metroidvania. As more areas and difficulty options are unlocked, the entire gameplay experience could only improve. As for whether it’s worth it or not, if you base it on the scale and quality of its predecessor, Ender Lilies, it definitely is. But if you’re the type of person who decides based on what is already there, then you’re free to wait until later.

Platform Price
Steam Platform IconSteam $19.99

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist FAQ

Question 1: Is Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist the sequel to Ender Lilies?

The game’s setting heavily implies that it is a sequel due to the heavy influence of industrialization in its design. The official website’s description also mentions that Ender Magnolia is set decades after the events of Ender Lilies.

Question 2: How Much Content Is In Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Demo?

There are about two to three hours of content present in the game’s demo.

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Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Product Information

Ender Magnolia Bloom in the Mist Cover
Title ENDER MAGNOLIA: BLOOM IN THE MIST
Release Date 2024
Developer Binary Haze Interactive
Publisher Binary Haze Interactive
Supported Platforms PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S
Genre Action, Metroidvania
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating N/A
Official Website Ender Magnolia Official Website

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