After being delayed for almost a year, roguelike game Children of Morta is finally set to release. Was the wait worth it, or should you look to other roguelikes to fill the void? Check out our review and find out.
Children of Morta Review
Children of Morta follows a family called the Bergsons. They have protected the land of Rhea for ages from a darkness known as the Corruption. You start with the father John as he returns to the families ancient home after encountering the Corruption. When he arrives home, the grandmother confirms his fears: the Corruption has come back, and the family has to stop it. Using portals under the house, the family has to save the spirits and cleanse the world once again.
The game is really about this family and seeing how they handle their obligation to the world. After running a dungeon, a little more is revealed about the characters and you begin to understand peoples place in the family. Young Lucy is a flame mage, but would rather draw then train. Mark, the oldest son, has been away for years seeking harmony and practicing martial arts. It is little details and interactions that the family have with each other that help push you forward when you get stomped in a dungeon. I finished the last fight in just under 20 hours, but I still had plenty of side content I could do.
When you begin, you have access to John, a sword and shield fighter, and his oldest daughter, who uses a bow. The pickings at first are slim, but after a few hours, you have access the rest of the family and their skills. Each of them plays differently, and while I had favorites, all of them are powerful in their own right. John can block attacks, Linda can move and shoot, Mark dashes to his opponents to lock them down quickly, and Joey swings a massive maul from side to side for AoE hits. As much as I preferred to play Mark, Linda is the one who killed every boss I came across in the first zone.
The combat itself is fast-paced, impactful, and requires you to watch the entire screen. Even while blocking with John, the enemy mages will put a fire under his feet. While dashing around with Mark, you might get snared by a spider or shot by a goblin archer. It requires you to be paying attention all the time, and when you mess up, it hurts. To counter all this pain, you get rewarded for killstreaks. Starting at 10 and going up to who knows how high, 112 is my highest; you are rewarded with gold for chaining kills. The kill meter expires fast, like five seconds fast. So on top of everything else going on you have that to worry about as well.
Dungeons in Child of Morta are broken up into sections, and each section has a boss. Like most roguelikes, you are looking for power-ups, gold, and extra items. Upon death, you lose your buffs and additional items but keep gold and exp. On top of this, you are exploring the zones for side quests and lore as well. An early mission, for instance, has you protecting a wolf cub from the Corruption demons who killed its mother. If you win, the cub joins the family, and you can see it in your after you are done with a dungeon. Even after clearing a zone completely and having access to the next I still had lore and side stuff to find in the previous areas.
Uncle Ben is one of your family members you cannot use in dungeons. That is because he is the family blacksmith. Using the gold you earn in dungeons, you can upgrade the entire family. There is no weapon changes or armor for the characters. Instead, it’s a raw upgrade to the families armor, damage, crit chance, movement speed, and other things. The same is true for leveling characters. As each character gets stronger, they will unlock upgrades that benefit each character. This is used to incentivize you to play other family members. For example, when John is high enough level, he will leap in to block a single death blow against whoever you are playing as. Just another reason to try every one.
The other upgrade path is more based on magic. Grandma is a wizard and has been for decades. Her upgrades come in the form of more passive buffs. She can improve how much exp you get, gold you earn, or how long a shrine buff lasts. Shrines are like shrines in Diablo. When you interact with the shrine, you will get a buff that lasts for a certain amount of time. The buffs vary from critical chance, more gold, more exp, a full heal, or a constant AoE fire around you. All of these little things add up to an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
Here are some other notes I had. The game is gorgeous and runs smooth as butter, on PC at least. It is co-op, but only locally, I wasn’t able to try it out. You can bring up souvenirs from the dungeons after doing certain pieces of side content. Some of these are easy to spot and others I had no idea if they were in the house or not. One of the mini-games is a game of chance, you lose, you don’t get the buff, and that hurts. The last zone felt small, and the enemies were too far spread out.
Children of Morta is the best roguelike I’ve played in 2019. A strong story, exciting combat, and great characters make it a must-play for any roguelike fan.
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