Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a two dimensional action-adventure game, featuring adventure and role-playing elements such as the ability to equip armor and cast spells. A new combat system called the "Glyph System" allows the player's character, Shanoa, to collect icons called "Glyph symbols", which she can acquire by defeating enemies or conquering challenges. These symbols can be equipped to her arms and back, allowing her to perform special powers and skills. There are over 100 different Glyphs the player can wield, such as weapon and magic glyphs. Glyphs use Magic Points (MP) to work, and once the MP gauge is depleted, the player must stop attacking to allow it to recharge. The player can also use a special Glyph Union technique, which calls a more powerful attack based on the glyphs equipped. The Union attacks consume the Heart Points gauge, a feature that was absent in Portrait of Ruin. There are also certain Glyphs which can be used to solve some puzzles.
Many different types of locales can be visited in the game, including forests, mountains, and oceans. There are a total of 20 locations, with an overworld map used to traverse between them. Besides fighting enemies and moving on from one location to next, there are also a number of side quests for the player to solve. After completing a quest, the player will receive a prize in return. If the player finishes the game, new features will become available to the player, including sound test, hard mode, boss rush mode and Albus mode, with an alternate playable character. It also features online play, allowing the player to trade items with other players or go head-to-head in a versus mode. The game also makes use of the DS-to-Wii connectivity with Castlevania Judgment, which unlocks content in both games. Order of Ecclesia is the first canonical game in the series in which the Vampire Killer whip does not appear in any form.
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