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July 2019

Children of Morta

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Developer: Dead Mage
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2019

About Andreas Salmen

I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding.


Switch Preview - 'Children of Morta'

by Andreas Salmen on Aug. 22, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Children of Morta is a story-driven hack-and-slash roguelike game that involves players in the adventures of the Bergson family.

Right in time for Gamescom, Nintendo released its Nindies showcase, which features some of the most promising new indie releases on its platform. One of the games shown is Children of Morta, a roguelike scheduled to release in early 2019 for the Switch alongside all other major platforms. We sat down for a demo of the first playable beta build on the Switch to see what the game is all about.

Children of Morta isn't just a simple roguelike. Instead of just one character, we play as a whole family that consists of five characters, each resembling a different class. There's the daughter (archer), the son (rogue), and the father (mage and warrior), and two more family members have yet to be revealed. All characters are readily accessible from their hub: their home on the mountain of Morta. As the mountain has become corrupted, the family sets out to fight against it. In the demo, we took a crack at the first level as the warrior.

Children of Morta looks a lot like a beautifully pixelated Diablo. It's a hack-and-slash at its core, and the levels are completely procedurally generated. It features a random loot and rune system so we can get special perks and change the odds in our favor. The animations appear smooth, and the game controls well as we venture into the mountain for the first time to face a multitude of beasts. The game bears enough similarity with Diablo that I had to ask Karol Zajaczkowski, Marketing Manager at 11 Bit Studios, what they thought of the recent Diablo 3 reveal for the Switch.

"We didn't expect it. It was a surprise, and we thought about how it would affect the game. I think fans of Diablo will already own the game elsewhere and may even buy it again, but they'll also appreciate a new experience that has similar mechanics on the Switch, such as Children of Morta," said Zajaczkowski.

It would be unfair to categorize the game as a clone of Diablo, as it has some distinct features, even for a classic roguelike. Character progress carries over between runs and can be used to upgrade character stats, which then apply to the entire family. Certain skills and runes will even activate tag-team maneuvers, where another family member joins your party to help you out for a brief period.

The interplay between the family members and their abilities, as well as the fact that they all progress at the same time, gives you room to experiment and swap them out for consecutive runs. Loot and runes found in your game are specific to your characters, making them even more interesting with each run. Death is not only a chance to switch characters but also an opportunity to view some of the animated cut scenes, giving us some lore and story insights into the title's very neat-looking pixel art style.

While we are in the middle of comparing the game to Diablo, it also bears a certain resemblance to Enter the Gungeon — without the guns — in terms of the combat fluidity as we dodge around the area and dish out a sweeping attack with our sword or fire an arrow across the room. It even includes local co-op with a friend (or family member), which sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we were unable to test out that feature.

It's still an early beta, but it ran quite well. On-screen text on the handheld is still rendered a tad too small, and the dark environments in conjunction with the predominantly dark enemies made it tough to follow the action on the glossy Switch screen. Those minor issues can be addressed in the next six months leading up to the game's release. As roguelikes go, Children of Morta looks like a very fun and polished entry for the genre, and hopefully, that will hold up as the game approaches launch.

There is still quite some time until Children of Morta's release early next year, but based on what we saw, the game foundation looks fun and exciting. It's an action-packed and beautiful game that hopefully delivers on everything it promises to be. Switch owners may also be delighted to hear that, while a physical release has not been confirmed, it is most certainly being "thought about" internally.

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