As an encroaching evil begins to spread across the land, a father must take up arms to protect his family. What he may not realize is his family is just as ready to fight as he is. Children of Morta sticks to a solid foundation in the rogue-like genre, while telling a tale about the day to day life of a family of heroes destined to save the world from darkness.
In Children of Morta you’ll play as a member of the Bergson’s family, a clan who’s destined to protect the planet from a dark force that’s slowly consuming it. While the setup to the game isn’t anything new, the brief reprieve between your ventures into randomly generated dungeons lets you see into their day to day struggles. Seeing little moments from each family member’s perspectives and their attempts at having a normal life really give each of these characters a life of their own. Seeing a father and son in a bonding moment or the youngest daughter trying to learn magic to help the family, really made them feel more than just a character class to pick from.It’s all told from a narrator’s perspective and the writing and voice delivery of the narration is fantastically done and adds a perfect tone and presentation to these scenes. Their journey became one of the main motivators that kept me going. It showed moments of reprieve for the family as well as the toll it took on them on as they fought this threat to have a normal life.
The family focus of the story ties back into the RPG and rogue-like gameplay in a smart way. As you level up and use skills points in the skill tree it unlocks passive abilities that strengthens the entire family, like increasing defense or movement speed depending on the character you upgrade. You’re rewarded and challenged by the game to try and play as more than just one member of the Bergson family. There’s even a fatigue system that makes too many runs with one character more difficult. I found this to be generally fair, but I already enjoyed changing between the different characters because of the varying play styles each character offered. If you like ranged combat the oldest daughter Linda uses a bow and arrow for ranged attacks and has more mobility. While if you prefer a more melee focused character, both sons, Mark and Kevin offer fast close range combat playstyles. Kevin will allow you to play more stealthy with cloaking abilities, and Mark will let you punch and kick foes with devastating force. There’s plenty of unique optional side stories to find that will tie back into the family story that you’ll see mostly play out in the Begrson household that acts as your main hub. For instance, in one dungeon run I found and saved a wolf cub from monsters. This led to a new scene when I returned from the run of the family welcoming this cub into their home. This then added more new areas to find randomly which involved finding tools to build the cub a home. Finding these little nuggets and extra little objectives really strengthened the story of the family for me every time I encountered one.
While the themes of family bonds are infused into the game’s RPG elements in an interesting way, the rest of the game is just a solid rogue-like gameplay loop that doesn’t really chart its own course. You’ll find yourself running through underground caverns filled with skeletons and spiders to beat down for a large portion of the early game, and while the pixel art and animation looks great, you’ll see a lot of the same environments. It took me eight or nine hours to get to the second environment that was a desert area with new enemy types, as most of the environments before that were the same type of caverns just colored differently. All the side stories in the game are great, there outnumbered by some of the other mini game type objectives. Playing a game of pong for extra rewards is novel the first few times but after finally getting to a new environment, eight hours later, I found myself seeing the same pong minigame diminishing what felt like a brand new area to just more of the same.
Children of Morta knows what it is and balances typical rogue-like gameplay with its story about a family very well. This blend has me invested in a progression system more than any other game in its genre has done prior. While I dont think the variety will keep up later into the game, I still had a great time with Children of Morta when it was running on all cylinders. It offers plenty of variety between the combat and upgrades to unlock,but little in terms of actual gameplay and exploration. Its action focus immediately grabbed my interest, but its lack of environmental variety makes me unsure if I’ll see it through to the end.
This game was reviewed on PC with a Steam Key provided by the publisher.