Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Preview

While I’m not the biggest fan of Steam early access, it has been the source of some solid releases over the years. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights was one such title, offering challenging bosses and a beautiful world to uncover. Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist aims to capture the same magic, now with a new setting and some welcome quality of life features.

Switching from a fantasy setting to a more industrial world, Ender Magnolia sees the amnesic Lilac exploring a ruined world full of artificial beings known as Homunculi. Lilac has the ability to attune with some Homunculi, letting them make use of their various abilities. Setting off in search of other Attuners, their goal is to help save the Homunculi that have been overcome by a strange plague affecting the world.

Not much of the story is present during this initial early access release, but you do get to meet a few of Ender Magnolia’s main characters. When Lilac attunes with some of the Homunculi, they’re able to view portions of their memories. This adds a little extra personality to the bosses especially, even in this early state.

The world itself is beautifully realised, featuring lots of appropriately ruined and decayed environments. I think what makes what could have been a somewhat generic setting stand out is the use of colour, with bright blue flowers and eerie red lighting really giving the game its own identity visually.

Adding to the presentation is another stellar soundtrack from Mili, the musical group that also handled the OST for Ender Lilies. It’s a suitable blend of mystery and melancholy, making for a suitable backdrop to your exploration of a ruined world. I’m interested to see how they handle later boss tracks, once things really start to get going.

As you’d expect, Ender Magnolia’s world is a rather unsafe place, especially for someone young like Lilac. This is where the aforementioned Homunculi come in, acting as your various attacks and abilities. You’ll only have access to a basic string of sword slashes early on, but this expands to include extra melee and ranged options quickly.

It’s possible to equip four Homonculi abilities at a time, with Lilac also gaining a few extra moves to their repertoire along the way — you get access to both double jumps and air dashes within the first hour. Each Homonculi can eventually learn more abilities via upgrades, which are unlocked using collectable materials.

Combat and exploration mostly follow a similar pattern to Ender Lilies, with you making use of a combination of active and cooldown based abilities (no limited uses on the non-melee skills this time, thankfully). Attacks feel like they have a little more weight this time, though they’re still somewhat floaty compared to other action games where you attack directly.

Still, the stagger system returns to add more weight to combat — after reducing an enemy’s stagger gauge, you can combo them freely. This system still applies to bosses as well, giving you brief chances to deal big damage between their attacks. I often found myself making use of ranged attacks to avoid big swings, before going in with both melee and cooldown skills to build up as much stagger as possible.

Currently, the early access version of Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist only has a few main bosses, with smaller encounters scattered midway through each area. None are particularly challenging which makes sense, though they do give you a chance to test out your current moveset.

On the quality of life side of things, there’s an actual functional map this time. It shows a more detailed layout of the world, along with showing areas in grey that you haven’t fully explored yet. It’s a big improvement over the featureless boxes of Ender Lilies’s map — you can even bring the map up as an overlay at any time. Having access to an extra slot for skills also makes early combat less repetitive, even if you don’t have much to choose from right now.

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist Preview | Wait or Buy Now?

Currently, the early access version of Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist can be fully completed in around 2 hours. There are a number of pathways leading to new areas that just show a message saying they’re not ready yet, and multiple Homunculi skills that require items unavailable in this version.

For now, if you buy the early access version, it’s best to treat it as more of a demo. Most of what’s currently available will likely remain unchanged, with a lot more content to come soon. More of a solid starting point, rather than something that’ll last you for more than a day.

According to the Steam page, Ender Magnolia is only planned to be in early access for “ approximately six months to one year depending on feedback.” Because of this (and the team’s track record with Ender Lilies), you probably won’t have to wait too long for the finished version.

As long as you know you’re fine with only having access to around 10-20% of the full game, then I’d say picking it up now isn’t a bad choice. Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist is shaping up to be another solid title, though we’ll have to wait for future updates to see if it can surpass its predecessor.

We reviewed Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist on PC via a key provided by the publisher. The game is currently only available on PC via Steam during its early access phase.

All screenshots are our own. Some were taken on a PC (hence the ultrawide resolution), while others where via a Legion Go.

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Isaac Todd
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