Children of Morta (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 21.02.2018

Review for Children of Morta on PC

Rogue-like hack 'n' slashers are aplenty nowadays, and the problem is that only a handful of them actually try anything new. In many ways, Children of Morta by Dead Mage is not something substantially different as, once more, it all boils down to this: enter a "dungeon" (in this case, a mountain full of baddies), sword-and-sorcery your way through the many foes on offer, and, eventually, die, upgrade the tools of the trade, and repeat things all over again. What's unique about this, though, apart from its surprisingly pretty exterior, is the fact that it's all narrative-driven - but will this manage to turn the tide to the game's favour?

This unique flare of pixel art looks awesome in screenshot form, but these don't do it justice, as it's how everything is animated and "lit" that makes all the difference. This mysterious fantasy land is insanely detailed, with not a single pixel wasted, and could definitely teach triple-AAA production stuios a thing or two. This, then, is not your run of the mill, retro-looking title. Now that this has been taken care of, however, it's time to talk about the game itself - art style is important and all, but when it is that stunning, it makes one think whether all the effort was placed on that alone.

Thankfully, that isn't the case here, although the concept of Children of Morta is surprisingly simple, and basically what you would expect from an action-RPG-ish rogue-like: you try to go as "deep" into the caverns beneath the mountain as possible, and, upon failing, use the collected resources to strengthen the heroes by a bit, via upgrades that range from passive skills like extra health, a higher chance for critical hits, and so on, activation of certain pillars that provide temporary boosts when found in a level, and, of course, additional abilities for each character class.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

The classes are basically the members of the protagonistic family of this tale (more on that later), with this Early Access version offering two of them; the sword-wielding warrior father who is strong, durable, and can use a shield to decrease incoming damage, and the very young, fireball-spitting daughter, whose attacks are ranged, with the trade-off being the fact that she is more fragile. Currently, the latter tends to be far more enjoyable to play, as going melee currently is the wrong strategy, as foes tend to reduce that HP bar quite quickly from up close - hopefully, some rebalancing will ensue later on.

Never mind all the explaining done so far, though - is this fun to play? The answer is: very, very much so. The controls work like a dream, the challenge is high, and trying to go a little bit deeper with each try can be quite addictive. However, what would just be merely a decent Diablo clone (the music is very Diablo, by the way), becomes much better than that due to the aspect of randomisation that comes with rogue-likes. Simply put, the inside of Morta mountain changes each time it is entered.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

Even without the randomisation, Children of Morta is a challenging piece of software. The factor of luck, however, adds excitement into the mix, as you won't be able to tell what lies ahead, forcing a more tactical way of using the available resources, as it is not possible to just buy a hundred health potions and keep on moving. Furthermore, while the abilities aren't something special on their own, it's possible to find runes that alter them, and since these are also luck-based drops, you have to think when and how to use each one.

Now, a good game is fun to play - a great game immerses you in. The unique thing about Children of Morta is that it throws lots of weight on its narrative. Sure, while inside the caves there's not much "story" to experience, besides a couple of mini-quests, and pieces of text that attempt to do some decent world-building. Upon returning to the "base," however, which is the home of this gang of warriors, you get to watch a cut-scene every now and then.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

While, in all honesty, nothing spectacular will ever happen in those, it helps the player sympathise with the members of the family, not only because they have actual character, and aren't just a bunch of classes, but mainly because they are unexpectedly protective of each other, making you care for them, feel their need to overcome the darkness that has appeared inside the mountain of Morta, and become eager to help them out…

In the end, while there are many flaws here and there in everything, from the story, to the actual gameplay, Children of Morta already feels like it will offer a pretty enjoyable ride. In fact, the only big problem that this currently has is how easy it is to suddenly end up on the desktop, as crashes are quite frequent, even for an incomplete product such as this.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

Final Thoughts

Featuring a pleasing mix of dungeon-crawling, hack 'n' slash action, rogue-like randomisation and challenge, fantastic pixel art, and a strong narrative on top of it all, Children of Morta is surely bound to become one of the best indie gems of the year - as long as the developer deals with its frequent crashing problem.


Dead Mage


11 Bit Studios





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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