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Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia; ruin of artificial difficulty

I've started picking up games from my PSP/DS backlog recently. As an avid fan of metroidvania games I was excited to play one of the few Castlevania titles I haven't finished or even touched yet.

The good:
– glyph system; introducing many weapons in a single game was a great idea. From ranged, magic, buffs, melee plus the whole idea of combo'ing glyphs was pure fun
– rock-paper-scissors glyph system; not only are there many glyphs, but they also have different effect on different enemies. A flying satanist goat appears? Try light glyphs rather than dark ones. Ghostly ghost stalks you? Using a scythe may not be as effective, don't you think?
– audio & pixel art; it's one of the top 2D castlevania games on my list art-wise It stands just a bit short audio-wise from Symphony of the Night
– central hub; something that wasn't common during that generation. A central "hub" in the world, a safe place to come back to. NPCs willing to enhance your gameplay through quests and dialogue
– enemy design; how do you know which glyph to use against what? The game tells you through its enemy design. It's clear, enemies are unique, there are many of them
– close to no-backtracking; if you are not interested in extra content you can pretty much walk forward without going back to areas you already partially explored
– Dracula design is classic, feels badass to beat him

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The bad:
– rock-paper-scissors glyph system; it's great when it works. But shortly after the first part of the game (before the castle) it mostly becomes irrelevant. "Meta" glyphs take place of this system – what I mean by that is that there are some glyphs so strong not even well-suited glyph for the enemy does as much damage, thus all except for a few becoming irrelevant
– central hub; NPC's quests are pure grindfest. It's just going around already explored maps and farming resources to unlock items
– … and then you have to buy the items after finishing the quest. Yea, as if grinding resources was not enough you also have to grind $ $ $
– … and then the backtracking hits like a truck
the biggest baddest bad: artificial difficulty.
– Hidden walls, hiding game progress; I am not a fan of them in Souls series, and I'm not a fan of them here. But you know what Souls don't do and this game does? Blocking required progress/items/discovery to finish the game behind hidden walls. That's just bad.
– "Bad ending" sending you to game over screen. Not a nice thing to see after 5 hours of gameplay. It's a huge "wtf" since you don't know what went wrong.
– Getting "Bad ending" means not seeing roughly half of this game contents
– This game is decently paced difficulty wise for half of the game. There are some spikes with bosses that go down immediately to spike again randomly (e.g. Giant Skeleton being more difficult than next 3 bosses)
– Want to get hit by a boss twice in 1.5 second? Welcome to Order of Ecclesia
– Imagine a double hit from a boss who does 60~% of your HP in one hit
– It's all bearable up until a point. When you enter the Castle of Dracula this game becomes unreasonably difficult. Requiring you to grind more cash for more potions and items. In the castle the best strategy is just to let the monster be and jump above them since they have so much HP
– Having difficulty decreases (first castle boss) just to hit you with a boss that can pretty much 2 hit you (2nd castle boss). At the stage of the 2nd boss you realize this is intentional. He has too much HP, does too much damage, has way shorter "windows" in comparison to anything you encountered so far in the game. One/two mistakes and you are dead.
– third Castle boss is a pinnacle of those design flaws. It was made purely as a damage sponge. It's the slowest, most boring and unfair fight in the game. Not even Dracula (who can be easily beaten using his own medicine) is as awful as this one

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TLDR: amazing pixel art, fun to play mechanics, unique enemy design. Bad game design choices that ruin the game and frustrate the player


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