Children of Morta puts the fate of the world on your shoulders. Mount Morta is under threat! This game has you hacking and slashing through countless corrupted beasts in an effort to save the mountain. Will you rise to the challenge?
The Children Of Morta Are The Bergsons
Children of Morta is focused around the Bergson Family. For generations, they have acted as the guardians of Mount Morta, a now they have to “stand up against the ancient evil” that is sweeping across the land: Corruption. This Corruption flows from atop the mountain; half the task is activating the portal-like doorway to get there.
Even before playing, Children of Morta piqued my interest through the way it has been described. A lot of games sound fairly generic. Even if they look beautiful and play well, it’s easy for a game like this to get lost in the crowd when the competition is so fierce and so dense. Thankfully, it seems Children of Morta doesn’t suffer from that. In the same way Iron Harvest stuck with me from the first moment I saw it on Kickstarter, this game has been on my mind for a while.
Children of Morta is a story-driven hack & slash game with roguelite elements. It combines hand-painted pixel art with changing level design and unique characters to foster an experience you won’t want to miss.
Although this all sounds good, the main feature which has me preliminarily hooked is the basis of the plot described on the Children of Morta website.
“Children of Morta sets its story in a distant land but copes with themes closer to our daily lives… It is a story of simple emotions… love and hope, longing and uncertainty, and ultimately loss and the sacrifice we are willing to make to save the ones we care the most for.”
From this, you can tell that this isn’t going to be your typical hack & slash dungeon crawler. Even with what appears to be procedurally-generated levels, the unique graphical design, and unique gameplay abilities for characters… Children of Morta sounds like it is going to be an emotional experience that adds much-needed depth and emotional connections to the genre.
And I wasn’t wrong.
Children Of Morta Isn’t Your Typical Hack-And-Slash Game
Throughout my time playing Children of Morta, there was a lot that surprised me. However, there were also aspects of it that were expected and didn’t bring much to the table.
Firstly, I want to note that I am so happy that it has 360-degree combat. With pixelated sprites, I have found a lot of games adopt a 4-way directional combat system. This makes it somewhat harder but more frustrating to navigate combat. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Children of Morta utilizes 360-degrees to their fullest potential. The evade ability each character has also adds a much-needed degree of mobility to the characters. This, however, also varies between characters.
Alongside their differing weaponry, this adds further strategy to your gameplay. It also helps to further allow you to tailor the game to your playstyle. Alongside this, I also found myself a fan of the skill-tree character development. Each member of the Bergsons has their own skill tree full of unique abilities. For example, John starts out with the ability to block. However, this drains stamina. Linda, on the other hand, can’t block, but she had two evade charges.
However, the rest of the title was largely expected. Item drops offer buffs, but I found these to be largely ineffective in the early game. There are loot drops in the form of piles of gold coins and health potions sometimes drop on enemy corpses. Chests are scattered around the levels and also offer you more gold pieces most of the time. None of it is bad, but none of it stands out, either.
Children of Morta is a surprisingly complex game when you explore it, and I found that the drive to improve these characters’ abilities was a big part of my enjoyment. However, I found it difficult to weigh this up against the rest of the gameplay and ultimately found gameplay to be a little stale. Hack-and-slash games are often a slugfest against onslaughting opponents… At times, this felt like that.
Hand-Painted Pixel Art Gives An Aesthetic Fitting Of Such An Adventure
Whenever I play these kinds of games, I am always blown away by the level of detail developers are able to achieve. This isn’t just in their character design but in the environments, too. You would think that the raised camera perspective common in dungeon crawlers does not offer much room for the development of the environment… However, time and time again, I am caught off-guard and in awe of what has been accomplished. Children of Morta is no different.
Each member of the Bergson household has a unique character design, both narratively and in appearance. The Children of Morta don’t just wear different clothing. Now, do they just have different hairstyles to tell them apart… It appears that Dead Mage Inc. has adopted the rule popular in a lot of multi-character video games. Every Children Of Morta Bergson has a different silhouette. This may not seem as important when you’re actually playing, as a multitude of other factors make each character unique, but it’s important when you look at the core of each character, Despite everything else, if a character’s silhouette is different, then each character is undeniably that character.
Obviously, the character’s hair and weapon do make a difference to their silhouette… But it is nice to see that this level of thought has gone into an area which could be overlooked by developers.
The Levels Look Beautiful But Don’t Bring Anything New To The Genre
Okay, that may be a little harsh, but it’s true. Children Of Morta has an aesthetic throughout that you will not get tired of. It’s simply a beautiful game to look at. The simple yet unique design of the characters is juxtaposed perfectly with the complex detail of the levels. Not only this, but the bright colouring of both the Bergsons and their supporting cast stands out well against it. The only time I felt like my character might get lost was during a particularly explosive spell of combat.
Lighting is used well, too. If you’ve read any of my reviews before, I seem to always find myself focusing on the lighting used in a game and how it affects the tone and contributes to the desired experience. Obviously, it isn’t as vital in a pixelated title, but that doesn’t mean Dead Mage Inc. and 11 Bit Studios have let their work slack. The lighting in Children of Morta is wonderful. The subtlety of the shadows accompanied by the glowing of the various light sources helps to bring the world to life. All the detail in the backdrops would feel misplaced and incomplete without it, but thankfully this isn’t the case.
The Sound Design Is Wonderful Throughout
One thing I often find myself praising in video games is the sound design. From the backing music to the sounds of using abilities, Children of Morta’s sound design fits perfectly within the title and the genre aesthetic. The narrative voice, whoever it belongs to, is deep and mysterious. It tells the story with compelling enthusiasm while remaining grounded and serious. The music contributed perfectly to the constructed tone of each moment. The small grunts and shouts from each character help to breathe further life into them.
I also enjoyed the decision to have the sound muffled when you’re low on health. It’s a small detail, largely irrelevant in any case, but it really helps to contribute to the stress you feel when you’re one hit away from death.
All in, I found Children of Morta to be an enjoyable experience. I wouldn’t say it was the best title I’ve ever played, but it is nowhere near the worst, and I am quite looking forward to going back to continue the journey.
Children Of Morta is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. If you want to purchase the game on a console, while also supporting the Gamezo Team, please purchase from one of the links.
Children Of Morta Will Have You Inspired And Eager To Continue The Fight Of The Bergsons Against Corruption