Having originally released for the PC last year, Children of Morta is a Roguelike RPG that sees the Bergson family fight against the corruption that is encroaching on their home, the mountain known as Morta. Father, Mother, sons and daughters alongside the uncle and the wise grandmother band together and through each of their skills they give the family a bit more of a fighting chance.
When thinking about a Roguelike, several one word descriptions come to mind. Hard. Challenging. Difficult. Brutal. In a lot of cases these words are fairly accurate because let’s be honest, that it’s the name of the game. These titles are designed to be hard, they are designed to be challenging and they are NOT for everyone. So with that in mind, Children of Morta hits a bit of a sweet spot when it comes to this more hardcore of experiences. While being designed to make you fail is nothing new, the developers laid out a series of features that are mostly unlocked at the beginning through failure. These are in no way token gestures as you do have to work for them, however, they feel natural in how they are unlocked and blend very well into the story being told as there is a fair bit of storytelling going on.
While you’ll be spending a good deal of time inside of the dungeons and fighting off loads of enemy monsters and machines, often when you head back to town you’ll be treated to an interaction of at least one of the family members. Sometimes it’s just how one of them is feeling that day, other times it’s for example one of the sons and the uncle as the uncle gifts them a weapon to allow them to help them out in their own way. These scenes big or small all help make this family more than simply characters to be used in a dungeon crawl, it makes them feel like actual people which in turn makes you want to try even harder to help them protect their home.
To protect their home you’ll be picking one family member that you have unlocked in order to head out into a multi-partitioned area that acts as a dungeon. Each of these areas is randomly generated every time you go in so you’re never quite sure what you’re actually going to find so you always have to exercise at least some caution. The goal of diving through these dungeons is to defeat a boss to help you move onto the next one as you work towards freeing a powerful spirit that you require help from. Not overly long, there are about nine bosses on your journey towards the final boss and freeing the spirits that you need to get there.
The lead up to these bosses can be something else. Each area is a maze with an entrance and an exit to another floor as you work your way towards the boss. Enemies come in a variety of shapes, sizes and attack patterns both melee and ranged. Fast, slow, powerful, weak, it doesn’t matter as while one is nothing to worry about but a crowd, now a crowd is something to worry about and often you’ll want to run back a room or two in order to thin the herd before jumping straight in and mowing down the rest for both experience and money that you need to get more powerful.
As for the bosses, they are worthy of the name. Each of these beings is powerful, most can summon in other minions, and finally as their health goes down, they get new moves and patterns making it a constant learning experience as what works with one character may not work with another. Now because this is a Roguelike, you may not be quite making it to the boss the first, second or even third time. You may not even beat the boss the first, second or third time that you make it to them. And that’s fine because it’s actually expected.
Knowing that this will be a dangerous adventure, each family member is given a crystal that will transport them back before a final blow can end their lives and through this, better prepare for their next outing. This gets around any of the family members dying and being able to fight another day. One other feature that tags along with this, win or lose, is that because whoever you chose to go out is fighting within the corruption, they may need to rest as the constant exposure will reduce their fighting capacity such as reducing maximum hit points by incremental percentages. There are items that can be used to instantly cure it, however, often you’ll want to take someone else out as unlike a lot of cases, you’ll want to be levelling everyone up.
Also, in addition to the above, being defeated for the first time will unlock the uncle’s workshop allowing you to start upgrading the family’s attack power and maximum hit points. After a bit more time you’ll unlock the grandmother’s runic abilities which allow you to gather mother faster, raise your dodge chance, your critical hit chance and finally the amount of experience you earn. So instead of simply leveling up your family members which make them a bit tougher and give them skill points to learn new abilities, you have a secondary set of upgrades to hell you out.
Even this though isn’t enough in the beginning so thankfully as time moves on that’s where you’ll be unlocking the other family members. Each member has their own fighting style, how much they can dodge, how much damage they can take and a series of unique skills so that no two family members feel the same while dungeon crawling. Adding to the uniqueness is that as you level up each character, there are abilities that unlock for the entire family as you spend points to upgrade your particular family member. These unlocks can be upgraded through the uncle’s workshop so keeping family members leveling up can only help you as you move forward.
All of this is what makes Children of Morta a fun and unique Roguelike. It’s by no means an easy adventure, however, it’s not brutally hard as it’s been designed with a smooth enough curve and the features to support this. On a final note, I would have loved to have compared the original launch version with the newest update titled The Setting Sun Inn. This update has added in the following features and while I can’t compare most of these:
- New Game Plus mode where players keep previously unlocked characters, skill tree progress, resources, Ben’s workshop and Book of Rea upgrades, all while playing through even more challenging content
- 20 new cutscenes
- 8 new Home Interactive Events to liven up the Bergson family home
- 26 new Home Idle Activities to keep the Bergsons occupied
- 14 new Family Events and Quests in the Dungeons
- 3 new Side Quest Traits
- Balance changes and bug fixes
I have gone into the NG+ which is a lot tougher and vastly enjoyed the storytelling which felt natural from start to finish whether it was from the family inside the home or the family as they helped others out while dungeon crawling.