Platforms: PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Dead Mage
Publisher: 11 bit studios
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“Children of Morta” is a light roguelike, action/adventure RPG set in a far off land where a legendary family is tasked with protecting the world from a darkness that seeks to consume and corrupt all that lives.
Roguelike is a description given to games that focus on dungeon crawls through procedurally generated levels with a focus on exploration and repetition to level up and advance onward. “Children of Morta” takes its roguelike influences and gives the player a beautiful retro 16-bit style adventure into a land of swords and sorcery and Dungeons and Dragons-like campaign setting.
You play as a legendary family called the Bergsons, who are tasked with protecting the mystical Mount Morta. You start off as John Bergson, the father of the family and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, but you’ll unlock various members of the family as you progress, each with new and unique skills. As other members of the family level up, certain abilities are unlocked that can be shared amongst family members to make them even more formidable.
Questing through the dungeons and abandoned cities can sometimes be frustrating while other times extremely satisfying. Not only are the levels randomly generated, so are the myriad of magical items, talismans and obelisks that you find on your adventure. Sometimes I’ll only last a few minutes in a dungeon as swarms of enemies will outnumber you in waves while other times I’ll tear through a level with slow methodical ease. This all depends on what relics you find along the way. One playthrough will almost completely lack health potions or special relics while the next will be loaded with a nearly limitless amount of objects to help you on your way.
Usually I’m not a fan of repeating levels of missions over and over again multiple times, but what makes “Children of Morta” so much fun and somewhat unique from other games in the genre is that it is very story-driven and, even when you die, the story progresses on allowing you to unlock characters, quests, upgrades or features anyway. This set up makes you feel like your last venture into the dungeons and caverns below was not entirely in vein.
There aren’t many flaws in “Children of Morta” in my opinion but there were some gaming elements that could have been tweaked mainly in regards to health and healing. During the prologue level, there we health potions around every corner and were dropped by what seemed like every other enemy, but when you jump into the regular story levels, they are at an all-time premium. Also, in just about every other RPG game that I’ve ever played, when you level up you regain all of your health back but you’re not given that perk in this game. Instead, you get an enemy screen wipe for your efforts.
The game also provides the opportunity to play with a friend via couch co-op, but there is no online play feature. This is disappointing because I feel like “Children of Morta” would be an excellent experience with a few friends online that would be reminiscent of the old days of playing “Gauntlet”.
What hooked me with “Children of Morta” was the beautifully rendered retro-pixelated look, the relic looting, the classic Dungeons and Dragons style setting and story campaign and the overall fun of exploring the next level…whether I died or not. There are so many objects and relics for you to discover “Diablo”-style with a multitude of unique properties that enhance your character to near god-like levels…if you can survive long enough to find them all! Once you sink your teeth (or fangs) into “Children of Morta”, you will be most definitely be addicted and chomping at the bit for more.