Children of Morta Review: Generations
Kalvin Martinez / Dec 27th, 2019 No Comments
Family is the strongest bond we have. It is our first connection we have, and the traditions of our family become foundational.
Children of Morta uses family bonds and traditions to craft a spectacular roguelite dungeon crawler. It has many smart touches capitalizing on the familial nature of systems in the game. More importantly its story is moving and makes you come to love the Bergsons.
When Margaret tries to speak with the goddess, Rea-Dana, she is silent. In the silence, Margaret hears some dark and sinister stirring. She sends her son, John and granddaughter, Linda to investigate Rea’s greatest shrine, an ancient tree. When John and Linda arrive they find horror as the tree is cut down and horrific monsters are feasting on the misery.
It was as Margaret feared, the Corruption has began to spread. The darkness flowed down from Mount Morta threatening to swallow all of Rea. Margaret takes her family below their house to the Sanctuary left to them by Rea-Dana. The Sanctuary connects them to the mysterious lands around Rea, where they must save the trapped spirits to open the portal to source of the Corruption.
Children of Morta utilizes an authoritative and stoic narrator a device to deliver its narrative. Often narration is used as a cheap way to deliver exposition, but here it works to the game’s advantage. This fatherly narrator draws you into the drama and the conflict easily. The narration creates a distance making the game like a myth or fable, and it also helps weave together the various arcs of the Bergsons.
Where the narrator makes the most sense is when it delivers important details on the larger conflict involving the corruption, the spirits of Morta, and the mountain god. It gives a weight and authority to the province of gods. However, it also works to make the human element hit hard.
Another major benefit of the narrator is it allows the story to move effortlessly between events in the Bergson home. While narration can make the characters involved in the story feel like props, but the distance adds impact.
It is like we’re getting a glimpse at stolen moments, whether it be the family’s triumphs or failures. Seeing the tender embrace of a husband and wife in the midst of much strife or the tearful reunion of a father and son has even more emotional resonance thanks to the powerful narration.
The Family that Kills Together, Stays Together
With the corruption rapidly spreading threatening all of Morta. It falls to the Bergsons as defenders of Morta to find a way to stop it. This task has been trusted to the family for generations. As such, their basement houses a portal connected to the dominions of Morta’s guardian spirits.
The corruption has imprisoned Anai-Dya cutting them off from Morta. At the outset, only John and his daughter, Linda take it upon themselves to find a way to free the spirit. However, they underestimated the pervasiveness of the blight.
All of the Caeldippo Caves are overrun by malice creatures intent on taking out anyone who would try to stop them. At their core fearsome and terrifying monsters await spreading their evil influence. Whether it is a simple spider or a powerful boss monster, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Every moment is fraught with threats and the potential of death.
The Bergsons as defenders of Morta are fortunate that they can teleport back home when they are near death. After their first failures, it becomes obvious John and Linda alone can save Morta. It’ll take the entire family helping and getting stronger.
As you progress through the game more Bergsons join the fray. The beauty of each character, besides their unique playstyle, is how these additional characters joining add to the depth of the story.
When Kevin, the youngest son, joins it is not simply to help Morta, but out of a sense of abandonment, jealousy and desire to prove something. It is a little thing that helps give a synergy between the narrative and gameplay structure.
At the core of gameplay, Children of Morta is a dungeon crawler with fun hack-and-slash combat with procedural maps and enemy placement. It has roguelite elements to give you that “one-more-run” aspect. This makes the gameplay feel more immediate and unpredictable. Even if you can learn how enemies behave, you can never be certain of how they’ll appear.
The only certainty is the boss as they don’t change. Yet their patterns are subtly different each time meaning you can only prepare in a general sense.
Further adding to the dynamic nature of run is the random nature of obelisks, charms, divine graces and divine relics. These items appear randomly as you explore. While you can’t predict what you’ll find, you can choose to take a charm, Grace or relic. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with a load out that works best for the task at hand and for your character.
What makes Children of Morta more than a simple runfest is how each run aids the Bergsons’ progress and adeptness. Each run gives you an opportunity to earn experience for your Bergson of choice and to gather gold to upgrade your passive abilities with Uncle Ben or Grandma Margaret.
In terms of progress, Children of Morta has some great systems to ensure the Bergsons grow more capable. Much like new characters joining, the process systems has nice touches that give them ties to the larger narrative. Your passive upgrades are tied to Uncle Ben’s smithing skills and Grandma Margaret’s mystical knowledge and connection to Morta.
While each family member has their own individual upgrade paths, which give them additional skills and strong passive abilities, they also grant shared passive bonuses as they get strong. With each skill level threshold a family member hits, they unlocked bonuses shared among all family members. This adds to the bonds of the family, but more importantly gives players a reason to play with each Bergsons. The stronger each member is, the stronger the family as a whole is.
Children of Morta doesn’t reinvent the 2D action dungeon crawler with roguelite elements. However, it elevates it with some extremely smart touches and addictive gameplay.
Children of Morta is sublime. The combat balances depth and accessibility making it easy to pick up, but takes time and patience to master. Its story is complex and full of poignant moments.
Getting to know the Bergsons is a joy, please go seek out Children of Morta.
Children of Morta was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
tags: 11 Bit , Children of Morta , Children of Morta Review , Nintendo Switch , review