Indietail – Children of Morta

After a small break from the daily posting, we’re back again with another review! Today we’re taking a look at Children of Morta, a game about family-bonds and monster-slaying! Please enjoy this review!

Developer: Dead Mage
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Genres: Rogue-lite, Action, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC (Windows, Linux, Mac OS), Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Copy received from the 11 Bit Studios

But what is Children of Morta about?

Children of Morta is about the Bergson-family consisting of Grandma Margaret, Uncle Ben, Father John, Mother Mary, and their Linda, Kevin, Mark and Joey. They live at the foot of Mount Morta and have to fight against the spreading Corruption which is endangering their homelands, Rhea. To do that, they venture into different dungeons to find clues about the Corruption and the source of it.

In its core, Children of Morta is a story-driven rogue-lite-dungeon-crawler where you’re playing as six of the Bergsons that can be categorized into different classes, ranging from the brawlers John (Bruiser) and Joey (Juggernaut), the swift Mark (Monk) and Kevin (Rogue), and the ranged Lucy (Mage) and Linda (Archer). While John and Joey are rather tanky and have high durability at the cost of less movement speed, Mark and Kevin focus on high mobility, quick strikes and crits, while Lucy and Linda are great at distance but are not that good in close quarters.

By diving into the dungeon, you’re able to receive not only clues about the world’s lore and the source of the Corruption but also gain cosmetic items for your house – and gold which also can get invested into bonus-stats for your characters. These range from simple stat-buffs like attack damage and movement speed to increased “luck” (more gold), increased experience, and others!

When entering the dungeons, you’re able to not only level up your characters permanently but also gain items that improve your chances of beating the boss of the dungeon.
For instance, there’re usable relics with a cooldown that provide you with a shield, blocking all damage for a short while and then exploding for massive damage around you, or, if you don’t like that, why not place a totem that buffs you, slows enemies or even distracts them from you so that you can snipe them as Linda?

Some one-use-items can give you gems, healthpoints, small buffs, etc. while other charms can grant you passive boni like a poison-DoT-effect on enemies that are hurt by you and your abilities or a small little companion that stuns enemies for you. There’re tons of combinations for items on every run, which is hella rad!

But how does one acquire items?

Well, on every level there’s at least one item-room with a divine relic, which helps you a lot. It can be an active item or a passive charm but usually you don’t want to miss out on those anyways! There’s also crates all around levels that have to be opened with gems that get dropped by enemies or are found at corpses and pots and the like. These crates can contain gold or more gems, runes and items. When you have spare gems, you can also invest them at the shop before the end of the current floor to heal up or receive more items!

There are also special rooms where you’re able to help refugees that fled from the Corruption into the Dungeon or where you do other tasks like defeating hordes, playing a game of “God’s Pong”, escort NPCs to other rooms, and lots more. At the end of all of them you’re rewarded with items, again. However, while some are rather easy to complete, others can cost you some life points or are rather tricky to master. Hence, you should always wager if it’s worth it to risk your precious life points for an item now or if you should rather push for the boss, especially since some items might not synergize with your character, like a damage-aura around your character when you’re playing a ranged one.

And while there are items that may not be that good on your character, there are no bad items.

Items do not synergies in a bad way like in The Binding of Isaac where you can get boomerang tears and ipecac, which is quite bad unless you also have explosion immunity.

So, it’s always great to pick up items in Children of Morta! I once even had an item that sets enemies on fire while I had a rune that poisoned enemies that I hurt, which lead to two DoT-effects proccing on all enemies!

With items you can make up for your character’s flaws or empower your strengths – an aspect that I really enjoyed!

On top of items and the stat-upgrades, you’re also able to level your characters by defeating enemies. When levelling up, you gain skill points which then can be invested into powerful new skills or upgrades for recent ones. By investing points into your skills, you reach new skill-levels, unlocking bonuses for ALL other family members. For instance, John unlocks a passive skill for all characters at level 20 that recovers some HP every few seconds. Usually, you could only get healed by potions and items, so HP-regeneration is a pretty big deal. Other family members also unlock stuff like “more movement speed”, “more crit/dodge chance” or even a free gem on every new run. Runes get unlocked with levels, too, not only for your own character – though – but also other members. Hence, when you level Linda, her runes become available for other members – i.e. Mark uses his magic whipping-ability and also casts Linda’s explosive crescendo when equipped with the that rune! Runes, however, are used up over time making them not as overpowered as one might reckon!

While combat and all the strategies and stuff are quite cool in Children of Morta, the game truly shines in the cutscenes in between runs.

When you end a run, you’re presented with different cutscenes about the daily lives of the different characters, giving you insight over the character relationships, their dreams, wishes, values, worries, flaws and other weaknesses. I love slice-of-life-shows and I definitely am getting those vibes in this game, too. On top of that, when you unlock characters you get some more cutscenes where they interact with their family members.

Relatively early into the game, you can see Kevin training in secret and even receiving his own daggers from his uncle, the family’s smith Ben! He’s excited and wants to help his family in every way but his mother is worried about him. There’s a few cutscenes for this one that are shown after every other run, I think, which changes the pace by quite alot. After all, you’re able to see these lovely scenes after getting back from dangerous runs!

I really enjoyed these little scenes and the interactions between characters. Even when you’re not doing anything and just relaxing in between runs, the characters are talking to each other or training or doing something else – which is quite neat to spectate.

There’s also a few log entries that you can check out once in a while to find out more about the characters’ pasts. I highly recommend reading those entries once you find them! They’re very interesting! My favourite character, by the way, is Ben!

He’s a lovely old fella and his background story is also really cool. I love seeing him interact with everyone and dwell in the past and all that.

Overall this is a lovely game, as one can see in its presentation!

The music is great and very atmospheric, the narrator is awesome, has a warm voice and makes every scene better, and then there’s the art style: It’s pixel art and while you surely feel like you’ve seen pixel art in basically every indie game ever made, you’ll shortly notice that it’s very detailed and quite beautiful. Especially the lighting in some places makes the world feel so lively and the dungeons so enigmatic! It’s truly a beautiful game.

But now onto some flaws. While the soundeffects and the soundtrack are great, there’s moments where a track stopped or where the game isn’t sure about what to do next. It’s just silent. Another thing I noticed was the fact that aiming feels a little bit sluggish here and there, especially when playing a ranged character like Lucy or Linda. But other than that I didn’t really have any issues with the game. The game surely is hard at the beginning but due to the levelling, the upgrades, the unlocked runes, abilities, and items, you get the hang out of it quite fast. When you get stomped once, you often can go to older dungeons, level up and return to the higher dungeons in order to master them. Every run feels refreshing and, as you probably can tell, I am, frankly, in love with this game which is why I highly recommend this game!

I hope you enjoyed today’s review! I tried to use topic sentences and highlight important bits of pieces while not making the review too long. If you’ve played Children of Morta, too, feel free to comment on your experiences with it. I’d love to receive some feedback on this post so feel free to also comment on suggestions or point out mistakes of mine!

Anyways, I wish you a lovely rest-weekend and hope you don’t mind tomorrow’s mondayness too much.
Cya! 🙂

Note: I haven’t touched the Multiplayer at all since right now it only features local multiplayer. There’s Online-Multiplayer planned for the near future, according to the devs’ twitter and steam page, so stay tuned for that when I’m getting to it in another post.

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