Children Of Morta is the latest indie release from developer Dead Mage (Ninja Blade) and published by 11 Bit Studios (Moonlighter) for PC and consoles. Best described as a Diablo-style dungeon crawler ARPG with roguelike elements, Children Of Morta is a must play for any fan of the genre looking for something a bit different.
Set in a dark fantasy world, Children Of Morta tells the tale of a beautiful land being overtaken by corruption and evil and one family, the Bergsons, fights to preserve their way of life and be the light in the darkness. The story that unfolds can only be described as epic as the family comes together in the face of unimaginable odds to cleanse the land.
Children Of Morta starts out by introducing us to the matriarch of the Bergsons, Grandma Margaret, a mage of sorts, as she discovers the coming corruption. John, the patriarch of the family and Margaret’s son, is the first one tasked with going forth to fight the evil as players embark. John is the basic melee and shield fighter and the perfect character to jump in with.
As you progress, players will unlock other playable family members. Linda Bergson, the oldest daughter and an archer, Mark, the oldest son and hand to hand expert monk, Kevin the youngest son, who dual wields daggers, and Lucy, the young red headed fire mage. Finally there is cousin Joey, son of Uncle Ben (insert Spider-man joke here) who carries a huge hammer he swings around the screen. Other members like Ben, who maintains the family armory and is in charge of upgrades for the family as a whole, and Mary, John’s pregnant wife, will assist players and are included in cutscenes as the story unfolds.
Gameplay in Children Of Morta is your standard ARPG, from a top down perspective players roam a randomly generated map defeating enemies, breaking things in search of Morv (currency in the game) and health potions, and opening up chests for more rewards. Each respective family member has their own strengths and weaknesses and of course play-style.
Chests and enemies can drop various upgrades to your character in the form of Divine Graces and Relics, Charms, and Runes. Each will give you special abilities, upgrade your attacks, and generally buff your character. Every time your character “dies” they are transported back home via a magic crystal and all of these upgrades will be lost. This is the roguelike element to Children Of Morta.
Players will retain any Morv gained and skill levels will grant upgrades to the family as a whole, increasing your power overall in the next go around. Using your Morv collected, players can use Uncle Ben’s workshop to buy upgrades and increase the whole families base health, speed, attack, and more. Grandma will also sell upgrades via the Book of Rea. Players find and unlock these as they progress and these can increase total experience gained, Morv dropped, and other upgrades for the Bergsons.
This gameplay element creates an even more addictive experience in a genre already known for its repetitive and time sucking ability. Unlike many other roguelike, I never felt like any of my dungeon runs were pointless because no matter how I did, I got some experience for that character and added to my overall strength of the family. I found myself playing for hours on end, going back for just “one more run” and this is what you want to find in a game like Children Of Morta.
Each character has their own skill tree that as they level will unlock some amazing abilities and with some characters, you don’t really know how powerful they can be until you spend some time leveling them. I found many to be rather bland and underpowered at first but still fun to play and eventually they come into their own. Play-style preference will also be a deciding factor for many. As family members spend time in the world they will sometimes suffer from corruption that will decrease their max health. This forces players to try other characters and keeps things refreshing in my opinion.
The graphics in Children Of Morta are amazing. A combination of hand painted and pixel art, the game looks both basic and jaw dropping at the same time. The level of detail in places is outstanding. The music is professional and perfectly fits the settings you encounter. The narrator of the story is particularly exceptional as he progresses the story after each dungeon crawl. But as beautiful as Children Of Morta is, the gameplay is what you keep coming back for.
While gameplay can be a bit grind heavy, having to go back to previous dungeons to level up new characters and of course failing multiple times as you try to become powerful enough to defeat a dungeon’s end boss, Children Of Morta is still fun for someone like me who enjoys this genre and expects repetitiveness. With unique graphics and a story you will fall in love with, if you are an action RPG fan looking for a new game to play, look no further than Children Of Morta.