I’ve been spending a lot of time with Children of Morta lately, in light of its extensive content roadmap and major new updates.
I played it a lot when it first came out, but since picking the game up on Switch again, I’ve found it’s just one of those titles better suited to handheld play. I’ve always been a fan of the game, but I guess I’ve got a newfound appreciation for what Dead Mage have achieved.
So, basically, if you love Diablo, you’ll adore this. It’s essentially a dungeon-crawler where you hack and slash through spiders, goblins, and trolls, while picking up tons of loot.
But Children of Morta is so much deeper than that. For one thing, there’s a really intricate, heartfelt story driving this forward, where characters are thrust into the spotlight in unexpected – sometimes tragic – ways.
You follow the story of the Bergsons – a legendary band of relatives who, many generations ago, worked together to fight back the Corruption which plagued Mount Morta, the landmark they are custodians for.
Now, unfortunately, grandmother Margaret has observed that the Corruption is back, and so a new generation of Bergsons find themselves emulating their ancestors to try and do what they once did. To save the world. Pretty hefty responsibility.
Most of the story takes place at the Bergson’s home and their Sanctuary. This Sanctuary allows the Bergsons to travel between various lands in order to claim Rea’s three spirits. The spirits will then reignite the crystal at the centre of Sanctuary and open a door to the Corruption.
Each Bergson responds to this very differently, and the game begins with you playing as John, head of the house. At first it might seem you’ll just be hacking, blocking, dodging and slicing enemies with a big old sword from end to beginning, but then John stumbles into his daughter, Linda, an expert markswoman.
His daughter just wants to help and do her part, and so, suddenly, the player is presented with a choice. These choices continue to crop up as you play, progressing through the dungeons, fighting back the Corruption, moving from place to place, as each Bergson steps in to help.
And there’s this ever-growing sense of continuity and family, building bonds and dealing with day to day personal problems. You’ll get to see how the Bergsons unwind, and how they think and feel by hovering over each room. These aren’t just some pixelated characters with skill trees, time has really been taken to flesh them out and give them substance and soul.
Sometimes you’ll even get to bring the story into the dungeons with you as there’ll be certain quests to fulfil and items to collect. It also works the other way with story elements being brought back into the home. One example is a wolf cub that has been left to fend for itself after its mother has been killed and so the Bergsons help protect the creature, then bring it home with them to tend to its wounds.
Each dungeon is procedurally generated, and so you’ll never play the same one twice, with the order of rooms altered, enemy types changed, and side quests ever-changing. It ensures the game stays fresh and different, and with recent updates there’s been even more elements added to the game, with many more still to come.
Another neat feature that makes it feel like a family-focused game is that, even though skill trees are individual and you earn skill points to grow and develop your character, once you reach a certain threshold you can actually earn family-based skills – like increased movement speed and skill for everyone.
This is such a smart way to make sure everyone can be on a semi-level pegging – even if you do have a preferred character – and so that if you want to mix it up at any point, it’s ok to do so. Especially since you can also reset skill points if you want to.
Children of Morta is such a complete experience. The narrative is surprisingly strong, the gameplay really gets its hooks into you, the characters play so differently and are well balanced, and the world around you is rich and detailed.
I am so excited to watch Children of Morta grow through 2020. This is a game I keep coming back to and one I seem to appreciate more and more each time I play. If you’ve somehow let this one disappear off your radar, make sure to put it back on there – whether you play on Switch or anywhere else.
Long live the Bergsons.
Children of Morta is now available on PC, PS4, XO, and Switch
Reviewed on Switch / Xbox / PC
Code provided by 11 bit Studios.