At its core, Children of Morta is really a game about family. While set in an outlandish and fantastical landscape, Dead Mage Inc’s focus on themes and story really sets Children of Morta apart from the rest. But wait, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, I mean I’m still introducing this review and I’ve already praised this game highly – so, with that in mind, let me get into this fully.
Children of Morta tells the tale of the Bergsons – a family whose bloodline is ancient and whose role is to protect the realm from the ever-approaching Corruption. To fight off the Corruption, you must explore through a variety of procedurally generated dungeons. But this face value description doesn’t do the game justice.
The Bergsons aren’t just a normal family. Each member of the family has their own flaws, virtues and skills. They are fully fleshed out characters with a deep and impactful backstory. Each time you rear your head up from the deadly dungeons you’re met with a cutscene or event, and how these events impact the family will make a difference to the rest of your playthrough.
I’m not exaggerating either when I say “deep and impactful backstory” – One thing that kept me exploring the dungeons, fighting enemies and returning, was learning what had happened to the rest of the family in my absence. It’s a way to progress the game, but also progress the options available to the player. There is a genuine sense of care and camaraderie between the family members, and so they’re always open to help. Some may join your adventure, giving you new characters and classes to choose from, and some may open stalls or rooms where you can upgrade your gear or learn new skills.
As previously mentioned, the gameplay mainly consists of dungeon crawling, in a sort of Splelunky/Caveblazers style of progression. You are going to die, and you will fail, but each attempt will teach you new things and improve you in some way. Whether it be discovering shrines or ruins within the dungeons, or simply learning how a particular enemy acts, each run is worthwhile and rewarding.
Children of Morta breaks up the monotony of dungeon exploring by offering you a wide variety of characters to pick from. At the beginning you only have access to John, a melee focused attacker, or Linda, a ranged rogue character – but this quickly expands as you venture through the dungeon and unlock more of the Bergsons story. I personally felt that Children of Morta rewards a ranged approach – many enemies are hyper aggressive and can do big damage when up close – but each character does have their own benefits. Not to mention that Children of Morta features a “corruption scale”. The more characters are exposed to the Corruption, the more they’ll need to rest. Meaning you’ll have to switch characters and playstyles.
Outside of gameplay and narrative, Children of Morta features an incredibly unique and impressive artstyle. On the official Children of Morta gamepage, they boast “[It features] a combination of hand painted pixel art and frame by frame animations, partnered with modern lighting techniques” and honestly, it does create a breath-taking visual experience. The overworld is colourful, yet eerie. Dungeons feel dangerous and abandoned and yet, the world still manages to create an almost whimsical impression as you venture through the fantasy world. This art-style, coupled with the brilliant narration, creates an almost storybook-like feel as you play through the game.
Children of Morta isn’t for everyone. Some may find it repetitive and grindy. But I think that the focus on family and togetherness really does create a unique experience. One that is definitely worth experiencing first hand.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*