They say there are some things that you should keep in the family – it turns out that dungeon-crawling is one of them.
Children of Morta is a rogue-like dungeon-crawler that sees you leading the heroic Bergson family on a grand adventure to defeat an evil threat known only as ‘The Corruption’. This means heading across a range of randomly generated dungeons, vanquishing the threats inside of them, and working as a team to make sure the land of Morta stays safe.
That premise alone is simple enough and not particularly unique, but the family-driven mechanics of Children of Morta are what make it feel a bit special. Between dungeon-crawling, you’ll spend time at the family home and uncovering more about what makes each relative tick and how they like to interact with one another – you can also come across them when dungeon-crawling too (or play with them in local co-op). These interactions were some of the highlights of the whole game, with the writing proving to be of a high standard throughout. I’ll admit that I’ve never been one to find the cast of rogue-likes particularly endearing, but Children of Morta is an exception.
The core gameplay experience of Children of Morta sees you working through an assortment of randomly generated dungeons, each of which is made up of enemies, traps, secrets to uncover and, of course, boss battles. It’s the sort of stuff players would have seen in rogue-likes before – you battle on through until you either succeed or die. Thankfully, if you do fall you get to keep your skill points (which are essential for improving your characters), making each subsequent attempt a bit easier.
That being said, there can be some inconsistencies with the game’s difficulty. Dungeons are randomly-generated and there were plenty of occasions where I found it a LOT more difficult the second time around. They were guilty of feeling a little samey at times too – whilst the different dungeons you work through vary in aesthetic, they never really had unique gameplay mechanics and you could expect to see a lot of the same types of enemies and traps all over again.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though because the dungeons are still a lot of fun to work through, whilst the levelling up and loot gives you an abundance of new abilities. Each member of the Bergson family offer something unique in combat too; you don’t have them all unlocked from the get-go, but eventually you’ll have John with his sword skills, Linda the archer, the quick and agile Kevin, the accurate and auto-targeting Mark, the magic-user Lucy, and the strongest family member Joey. They’re all easy enough to control and there’s a good variety of skills to use between them all, whilst balancing out your stamina use adds a tactical edge to it all. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses and it’s a lot of fun using each one and working across the dungeons as you try to figure them out. There’s nothing particularly unique here, but it’s consistently of a high quality.
Oh, and if the screenshots weren’t evidence enough, Children of Morta also happens to be a bloody beautiful game full of some wonderful pixel art sights. Whether it’s in the smooth character animations or just the impressive environments that surround you, it’s hard not to be impressed by what you see in-game.
Children of Morta’s family-driven setup will encourage players to go that bit further in their adventure, with it not only making for some fun interactions in-game but also a more rewarding experience as a rogue-like. Outside of that, it’s not really that unique from a gameplay perspective – it doesn’t stop the dungeon-crawling escapades being of a high quality though, ensuring that the Bergson family’s adventure is one that’s certainly worth being a part of.
Developer: Dead Mage
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC