Children of Morta (PC) Review

By Athanasios 03.09.2019

Review for Children of Morta on PC

Almost everyone who got the chance to try out Dead Mage's rogue-like, Children of Morta, loved it - including Cubed3, as shown in a previous, hands-on preview. It offered fast, challenging, and all around fun combat, a randomly built world that forced you to play strategically, a compelling narrative revolving around the family at the centre of it all, and as the cherry on top, a beautiful and strikingly unique pixel art style. Now that the full package was experienced, it's safe to say that, despite a few important oversights, this is a must-have for all ARPG aficionados out there.

An easy way to understand a game's worth, is to lose, and see how you'll feel afterwards. Will you be eager to immediately jump back to the fray, or will you get one step closer to shutting down the PC, going outside, and trying out that "real life" thingy everyone is talking about? You will die in Children of Morta, there's no doubt about it. This isn't meant to be completed in one run, and defeat will ensue for the best of players - but it doesn't matter, because, like all great rogue-likes (all five of them), each death makes you even more hungry for some action.

Death sends the player back to the hub, which, by the way, is the cast's mountain ranch, where one can spend the hard-earned cash that was accumulated on passive stat upgrades of all kinds, as well as upgrades for the random boosts that can be found while fighting. Moreover, although defeated, the hero or heroine that last attempted to brave one of the many treacherous caverns will now be stronger, with an increased health pool, and new tricks up his or her sleeve. There is a constant sense of progress here, which makes this quite the addicting experience.

Speaking of the people who'll do all the fighting, the Bergsons (subtle name-giving) are one hell of a family, since each one is actually a different class altogether, with warriors, tanks, rogues, rangers, and monks, and even cute, fire-throwing, child-mages being available. These people are the second reason why this is so addicting, as they aren't only somewhat different like in most ARPGs (looking at you, Diablo III!), but completely change the way one plays, despite them starting out as pretty typical representatives of their classes.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

Yes, the warrior typically swings a sword, holds a shield, and is slow yet durable, while the fire mage is a fast and powerful damage dealer, but goes down easily. However, all characters have a small, seemingly insignificant trait that further differentiates them from the rest. Take the two ranged fighters, for instance: both the mage and the ranger throw projectiles at enemies, yet only the ranger can move while shooting, whereas the mage stands still, but also starts spitting additional fireballs while at it - and these are only two examples amongst the many.

Sadly, things haven't really changed from the Early Access version in regards to class balance. Those who kill enemies from a distance remain the better choice, as the rest of the team (four out of six) are slower, and feel less fitting for a battlefield where most enemies are extremely fast and attack in groups, making it hard to avoid damage, since the range of melee attackers is disappointingly small, they can't dash-evade very often, and health drops are somewhat of a rarity, especially during the highly challenging, endurance race-y boss fights on offer.

Despite all that, hacking 'n' slashing in Children of Morrta is very enjoyable, and most will find themselves occasionally swapping between the different classes, especially since levelling them up adds perks for the whole family. Moreover, the enemies, while not as varied as one would hope them to be, offer a refreshingly challenging combat chess, forcing you to keep many balls in the air; keeping an eye who is preparing an AOE spell, who is on the verge of shooting at you, who is getting close, who tends to summon monsters, and so on and forth.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

A part that still needs some refining is the controls. The dual stick-esque scheme, with shortcuts tied to active abilities, generally works like a dream. Occasionally, however, controls "stuck" when trying to pull off a move during, or after another ends - usually after dash-evasions. There are a couple of minor flaws as well that might be fixed in a future patch. Going into the "rage" mode, for instance, which temporary makes you a pixel-y mass of death, begins and ends without making you invincible for those few moments of the transition, effectively leaving you open for some heavy beating.

Now, this being an ARPG, no matter how fun combat is, things are bound to get repetitive, right? Well, yes, but this is when the factor of randomisation comes into play. The rogue-like mechanics at hand aren't something revolutionary, with everything, from level structure and enemy placement, to the boosts that can be found, being handled by an RNG. Again, it's standard stuff. Having said that, all are implemented in a great way, increasing the fun factor by tenfold, and making each round feel fresh because of the element of unpredictability these create.

While doing your thing in the caverns and dungeons of Children of Morta, you will find all sorts of items that will help you on your quest - some for a price, some free. These range from permanent to temporary buffs of all kinds, to items that alter your basic skills in one way or another. Let's say you run around with the mage, who can leave behind a decoy that distracts enemies. These items can make the decoy last longer, hurt enemies, stun them, or even unleash a blast upon "dying." All these add a nice tactical layer to it all, as you'll have to survive with whatever falls into your hands.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

The following opinion will probably enrage some people: Children of Morta takes Diablo III (which yours truly hates with a seething passion), kicks it in the groin, slits its throat, throws it on a pit, and spits at its carcass. Yes, it's that good, and, in many ways, it's more 'Diablo' that it. There's one problem, though. Those looking for a 100+ title with tons of endgame material won't find it here. This quest will take the average player about 15 to 25 hours, and it can be played along with a friend in local - and awesome - co-op, but that's about it.

...But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because, although this plays like a typical hack 'n' slasher, it's actually a narrative-heavy RPG in disguise. Sure, while a step or two above the usual generic fantasy tale of good-versus-evil, the story is still relatively simple. However, this focuses less on the evil that you'll have to face, which is an all-devouring 'Corruption' that mutates everything it touches, but on the family of the Bergsons, whose members aren't just classes, but actual characters that make you care about them and sympathise with their constantly growing problem.

In fear of spoiling it, this won't go any further into the plot, but it's definitely very good, as long as you can stomach a narrator, who can occasionally get a bit too wordy for its own sake, with the writing generally being closer to how descriptions are usually done in a novel, if that makes any sense. Oh, and don't forget the ultra-detailed, non-smoothed pixel art style used here, which is simply stunning, especially when it comes to the way everything is animated, as the screenshots shown here don't do it justice. Dead Mage should be given an award for the graphics alone.

Screenshot for Children of Morta on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Children of Morta is an exceptionally well made ARPG, where the same amount of attention has been given to all its aspects, from the way it plays, to the way it's story is told, to the way it looks. Those in search for something with hundreds of hours of additional content should better look elsewhere, but the pleasure of combat (solo or co-op), and the addictive nature of rogue-likes, combined with the strong narrative, and the fantastic ultra-detailed pixel art style, gives a pretty good reason to put this on your wishlist - NOW!

Developer

Dead Mage

Publisher

11 Bit Studios

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

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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