I’ve been cutting back on my Streets of Rogue obsession because of a little game called Children of Morta (which I call Children de la Muerta in my brain) by Dead Mage. It caught my attention while it was in development, and I watched in interest when it was released two weeks ago. I was still in the throes of my Streets of Rogue fervor, so I didn’t buy it yet. Then, I started watching NL play it because it was what he replaced Streets of Rogue with. I was immediately grabbed by the art style and the story, even though the narrator sounds like he’s trying to be Wayne June (the narrator of Darkest Dungeon). I also really like that the family is called Berson, and the individual names are Grandma Margaret, John (father, playable), Mary (mother), Linda (oldest daughter, playable), Kevin (younger son, playable), Mark (older son, playable), and Uncle Ben, the blacksmith. Oh, there is also Lucy, the younger daughter, who is (as far as I know) not playable. The graphics are pixelated and gorgeous, and it’s an epic story of…well, I’m not sure, yet, but it’s fantasy, and then to be playing as Linda Bergson. She’s my favorite, by the way, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
I was hooked from watching NL, and I quit watching so I could play it mostly unspoiled. I bought it yesterday, installed it, and I have to say it didn’t immediately grip me. Not because of the game itself or the story or the combat, but because of the controls. I was using k/m, and Left Shift/Q/R as common buttons felt awkward to me. I found out from Ian that you could use controller, which was my impulse in the first place, but I hadn’t seen any keyboard remapping so I erroneously assumed it wasn’t possible. Dark Souls has done this to me, and I’m not entirely displeased with it. By ‘this’ I mean being a console grrl and a PC gamer.
The controller felt much better, but with two weird things. One, the dodge/evade button is A. I tried it as B (forever the roll/dodge button in my brain), but it didn’t work because of weird thing number two. As Linda, you can use the right stick to shoot while you’re moving. In that case, hitting B to dodge is inopportune. I eventually settled on A (the original button), but I don’t necessarily like it.
Either way, I started over with controller, and I played two hours straight. I made it to the first boss and beat it in five or six tries. I came really close on my second try, but then I fucked it up. At no time did I feel as if the boss was undoable, and it’s in part because I saw NL fight it (and beat it on the second try). I did give John, the melee character a go, but he’s very vanilla and boring. Linda is ranged with a bow and arrow, and I like raining different arrows down upon my enemies.
The game is marketed as an action RPG with hack-n-slash attributes. I’ve heard people describe it as Diablo and Dark Souls having a baby, and so far, I would say that’s not a bad assessment. I will say that the difference between the enemies and the boss is a bit steep, but that happened sometimes in Diablo III, if I remember correctly. I will say that there is some RNG/procedural generation so you don’t know what the layouts will be from run to run. You also unlock some abilities/level up that will carry over into the next game and/or apply to your family members across the board.
I can’t emphasize how lush this game is. I love the atmosphere of the world, and I like the lore–even if it’s not that deep so far. I know the pixelated look has been overdone at this point, but I still like it when it’s done well. This game and Dead Cells are the two that pop into mind. I will say that the enemies are less impressive as they are pretty generic thus far. In the first area, lots of spiders, melee assholes, and little slimes. All of them look the same, and it did get a bit repetitive.
I’ve only made it through the first boss, and I’m already hooked. The thing about the game, though, is that it takes more out of me than a simple hack-n-slash. I’m still not used to using the right stick to shoot (you can use X, but only if you’re standing still–which I never am (correction: you can use X even as you’re moving, but right stick is to auto-aim and shoot at the same time–which I need)), so I have to concentrate on using both sticks at the same time. Look. I was late to gaming, and I only picked up a controller to play Dark Souls. Now, it’s my preferred way to play especially since I play on my laptop on the couch, and it’s awkward to use my mouse in this setup.
Side Note: I need to buy an external keyboard. Less than a week after starting to use my new laptop, the S key had worn off. I know I’m tough on my computers, but that’s ridiculous. The A is gone as well now.
Children of Morta is scratching many itches, but there is something just off about it. I can’t say what it is because I don’t quite know. I mean, I’m into it, and I’m loving Linda, but I’m just not as engrossed by it as I was/am by the Souls series. I know it’s probably not fair to compare the them, but if you’re fashioning yourself after Dark Souls, then you have to accept the comparison.
Side Note 2: I’m hyped about The Surge 2, but also wary. Why? Because I had very low expectations for the first game, which is why it was a pleasant surprise. I was able to forgive some of the flaws (such as repetitive and drab environments) because hacking limbs was so much fun. Now, though, I have Expectations, and I’m going to be more critical about it. Not on purpose, but because I’m expecting certain things from it. I’m expecting that they will have better environments, that the shortcuts will actually be meaningful, that they will have tweaked the bosses (easily the weakest part of the first game), and more. Ian has an early code, and he says it’s better environment-wise, story-wise, and NPC-wise. All three were lacking in the first game, so that’s good to hear.
I think one of my issues with Children of Morta is that they throw all these mob enemies at you, and it gets tedious after a while–especially playing ranged. Mostly, it’s me backing up and shooting arrows, backing up and shooting arrows, rinse, lather, and repeat. There are traps you can trigger, but I’m not good enough for that. Also, there are plentiful obelisks of different buffs, almost too many. There aren’t enough health drops, either, but when they do drop, they seem to drop several at a time.
I tend to explore the entire floor before going to the next level. It’s good for getting all the buffs/level-ups I need, but it contributes to the grind. I like the side bit optional quests, and I like the ever-growing lore. I need to try Kevin to see how I feel about him, and, of course, I have to play more before I can give a better opinion about the game. As it stands, I like it and I’m happy I bought it. There is so much heart to it, and I think if I give it more time, it’ll click with me. I’ll report back with more game-time under my belt.
ETA: I have played another hour, made it to the second boss, whom should be fairly easy to kill. I really like how the story/lore is interwoven with the combat, which, I must say, is not the selling point of the game (the combat, I mean). I’m really warming up to it, and I’ve gotten more use to how Linda plays. I tried Kevin, who is ok, and I just unlocked Mark–the taiji dude.