30 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 17.6 hrs on record (13.8 hrs at review time)
Posted: Sep 8, 2019 @ 9:35pm
Updated: Sep 8, 2019 @ 9:36pm
Product received for free

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Dead Mage squeezed pixel-art perfection, light rogue-lite ARPG, wonderful soundtrack, fantastic storytelling, and co-op gameplay into a neat little package to give us possibly one of the best Indie games of 2019.

Children of Morta is amazing, I don't even know where to start to tell you how I feel about the game. One thing is for sure though, this game is absolutely awesome.

One aspect of the game that really stands out is the storytelling. Take all of the cut scenes together, and you got yourself an excellently narrated pixel-animation story book. I hesitate to call it a movie despite the fantastic animations, because the story is narrated, and the characters do not vocalize anything themselves.

Whether you make good progress in your dungeon explorations, the story will proceed to a point. Of course there are trigger points based on your progress as well, so just by playing more and more, the story will unfold before you.

There seems to be no way to rewatch cutscenes at the moment, I do hope this is added as an option in the future. I would love to sit back after I am done with the game with a beer in hand, to watch all of them in proper sequence.

The gameplay mechanics are rather straight forward. You head into a dungeon with one of six playable characters, and you try your best to make your way to and through the boss in the usual ARPG fashion, and that's it.

The roguelite element is rather simple, there's a light permadeath system, in which your Runes/Divine Relics/Divine Graces/Charms are lost upon completing a dungeon or through death. The levels, experience, skill-tree upgrades are all kept. In addition, there's a overmap/menu area where you have permanent unlocks that affect all of your playable characters. These are unlocked with the gold that you pick up in the dungeons. (So if you find the dungeon a little too difficult in the beginning, a bit of grinding will go a long way.) The dungeons are procedurally generated to a degree, though there's always the same predictable boss at the end of the dungeon.

The six playable characters are really very unique from each other. You would be better off to play and try all of them, with the plan to focus on maybe 2-3 of them. But the skill-tree upgrades will then come back as family traits and further upgrade everyone else in the family. So sticking to only one character is definitely ill-advised. It's very interesting the way this is put together in order to encourage players to play as everyone in the family.

A second player can play with you in local co-op right now, and the developers are working on implementing online co-op, which would be amazing.

There are a lot of Runes, Relics, Charms, Graces for each dungeon dive, coupled with a change of character often, and with quite a few different options for dungeons (you can go back to previous dungeons to replay them after you have beaten them, if you wish), that your runs will really feel rather unique. For me, the different pick-ups in the dungeon often determined whether or not I was going to get by, and managing the different active skills aside from the standard attack for the character, along with proper dodging, building up rage and unleashing the character's potentials were keeping my mind and hands busy.

The game is not too long, and there's no end-game content. You progress through the story and make your way to and past the final boss to see the ending of the story, and that's it. (Or so I have been told, I am only two-thirds of the way through the game as of writing.)

Possibly the best use of pixel art and the limited pixels for facial expressions I have seen. And the game world with the attention to details is just amazing to look at.

Fantastic soundtrack, absolutely worth listening to while playing.

First-Look Gameplay Video
Here's the beginning of the game for those of you interested:

Controller works fine, and I recorded my gameplay video using the controller. Then I switched to Keyboard + Mouse, which I prefer a lot better.

Definitely worth the base price of $21.99.

Why This Game Is Not Perfect (From What I Have Seen)
1. Chests, Exit Rooms, Special Rooms, and Obelisks are marked in the map, but not the runes, potions, or other things dropped by enemies. Potions will show up on the mini-map in the top right, but the other items definitely could use location defining markers on both the mini-map and also the full dungeon-level map when you look at it.
2. No way to replay the animations cutscenes after you get past them. (I really want to go back and watch them in proper sequential order.)
3. You cannot walk around the home base in between runs. It would be fantastic to allow the player to pick a playable character and walk around the house, go talk to the other characters, etc.
4. Sometimes you just have to grind a bit to get the right set of gear for the dungeon with the proper character for you to get past it. (It's always okay to return as another character with whom you have previously failed and try again, especially after a couple more permanent upgrades, either through family traits from other characters or home base unlocks with gold.) Just the absolute necessity sometimes needed in the grind to get to where you need to be can be tedious to some people.

What I Really Enjoy About This Game
1. The different playable characters in terms of how unique each one is from the others. You definitely get a whole different playing experience running through the same dungeon with different characters.
2. The way the different characters complement each other, especially through the skill-tree unlocks that benefit other members of the family.
3. To encourage players to play several, if not all of the playable characters, there is also basically a fatigue system built in, in that if you use the same character over and over, he/she gets tired and is affected by the "corruption" and will have a negative max HP for the following run. Depending on the degree of fatigue/illness, a certain period of time (# of dungeon dives) will be needed away to recover.
4. The forgiving nature in that the game can be beaten if you spend time to grind. Note I put this up in the list above and here too. I think some people will find it bothersome, for me, it's a great inclusion strategy, so that people like me with mediocre skills can experience the end game just by putting in a little bit more time.
5. Of course, the other stuff I mentioned above, like the artwork, music, gameplay, storytelling, and the voiced narration.

Children of Morta is well thought out and excellently made. It may not be perfect, but it's pretty darn near being perfect for me. I usually cannot sit in front of a computer for more than a couple of hours at a time due to eye-strain, body-posture mechanics, etc. But I managed to play almost 14 hours in a two-day span, which is more than a lot more than usual for me.

Personal scale overall score due to how much fun I am having: 10/10.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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YQMaoski Sep 9, 2019 @ 5:59am 
@onLooSe, thank you! The score is definitely subjective, though well deserved. :D

@yoshirules, thank you!
yoshirules Sep 9, 2019 @ 12:00am 
nice review :lunar2019piginablanket:
onLooSe Sep 8, 2019 @ 11:43pm 
Wow! A perfect score from you means a lot! :) Great review!