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    Children of Morta Review – Master Class in Pixel Art Storytelling

    On the short list for best games in 2019.

    A review of Children of Morta for the PC, developed by Dead Mage. Absolutely on my short list for best games of 2019.

    YouTube Video Review of Children of Morta, which is now available for the PC, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

    So, I’m sitting down to record this and I’m thinking I may have just played one of my top 10, maybe even top 5, games of the year, which is known as Children of Morta. 

    And if you’re unfamiliar with Children of Morta, I wouldn’t blame ya, because I hadn’t heard much about it myself.  From the looks of it, it was originally a Kickstarter game from 2015 made by Dead Mage, which is an independent studio based out of Austin, Texas.  It looks like some of the other games they worked on were Shadow Blade, there was a mobile game called Epic of Kings.  And I gotta give a shoutout to this Tales of Ronin game that hasn’t released yet.  I’m gonna leave the link to the trailer down below in the description, but you owe yourself a moment to check it out, especially if you’re a fan of RPGs, because it looks really promising. 

    But let’s get right back into Children of Morta, though.  I think the first thing anybody is gonna notice as they play this game is the gorgeous pixel art style.  It reminds me a lot of Gods Will Be Watching, King’s Quest from back in the day.  If you’ve never played that, please go out and play it.  It just has this great nostalgia feel of that 8-bit, 16-bit era, and it helps so much in terms of telling the story.  I mean there was such care taken to these characters and their little subtle nuances as they walk around on the screen.  Because a lot of times people think of pixel art maybe as like a minimalist thing, almost like a negative thing.  I am on the opposite side of it.  I think they masterfully used these pixel art characters to better tell the story.

    Story

    And in this story you play as the Bergson’s, which is this family of, I guess we’ll call them monster hunters, maybe somewhat akin to the Belmont clan, only it seems like there’s a lot more of them and their very tightknit family. 

    And coupled with this, you have this spectacular narrator.  I’m telling you, for me, he’s one of the stars of the game.  And it just pushes the story along with these little – I guess we’ll call them cutscenes of sorts, but they don’t feel like they’re too long in the tooth, they don’t waste a lot of your time.  Yet, they push the story forward. 

    And you’ll get more of these stories as you progress and find certain things in a dungeon, perhaps, or unlock a character or find something on the wall, for example, that is pertinent to the story.  So, it just gives you bits and pieces and you don’t feel like you’re just stuck in a five-minute loop of watching things, which is really nice and it’s always a big bonus when you unlock some more of the story.

    Controls and Elements

    As far as controls and elements, you’re essentially playing a dungeon crawler.  If you played Torchlight or Diablo, it’s similar to that in terms of combat style.  Basically, you have your central hub, which is the house, that tells your stories, it allows you to purchase upgrades, and then you actually go out into the world to beat each stage.  So, for example, there’s chapter 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and each one ends with a boss.

    And as you’re traversing each stage, you’re going to run into a copious amount of enemies.  There’s all different types of variations.  They normally swarm you.  But thankfully you have different skills at your disposal that you can use to disperse of them. 

    So, you’ll unlock different characters in the family fairly quickly, but you open the game playing it as John, who is the big daddy patriarch of the family.  And he has this skill called Heaven’s Strike, which basically every time you cast it, lightning bolts come from the sky and it helps disperse enemies.  He also has a skill where he can pull out his shield to defend himself. 

    And depending on which character you choose, they all have different skillsets.  So, for example, there’s a mage, there’s a brute, there’s an archer, and then a monk as well as a rogue.  So, there’s plenty of different ways to play the game; it just depends on what your playstyle is.  But even if you have a preference towards a certain character, you’re still going to have to play as some of the other ones because there’s this idea of corruption that builds up in each character as you use them.  The only way to get that to dissipate is to not use them for a period of time.  So, regardless, you’re still gonna have to play as the monk for a while and then the mage, et cetera.  Thankfully, they’re all pretty entertaining to use, though.

    Now, the combat you’ve seen before.  You got your primary attack and different skills you can use, as well as secondary attacks, but there’s also various items you can find that affect each individual run.  In other words, as soon as the stage is over, you do not own these items anymore. 

    So, for example, you have something called the Divine Grace, which is a permanent buff to your character for that run.  So, it may be something like being able to revive once after you die, maybe increase critical strike, something like that.  Then you have Divine Relics, which are a little bit different in that they’re cooldown abilities that can be activated and they usually reset in 20 seconds, 30 seconds.  For example, there’s these totems that you can drop and they will attack enemies or push them back.  Then there’s charms, which are usable items that you can restore your health with or maybe increase your speed temporarily.  It’s something that you use once and once you use it, it’s gone.  There’s also obelisks, which are these giant statues that once you trigger them, it will gain – it will give you some type of addition, maybe increased experienced gain or restoring health, but it only works at that statue itself.  So, it’s not as effective, I would say, as the other items you find.  And lastly, we have runes, which basically affect your primary attacks or some of the skills you use.  So, for example, maybe there’s a critical strike and every time a critical strike happens, then some additional spell will fire off in the background that helps boost your character, fight harder, maybe defend better, et cetera.

    Graphics and Sound

    As far as graphics and sound, I know I’ve already spoken about the pixel art before, but it’s just second to none.  They really put a lot of passion into it.  You can feel it with the pacing, which I’m gonna get into shortly, but it just has such a good feel to it.  And then when you listen to the ambient music in the background, as well as the narrator’s voice, you’re just in for a real treat.  I mean it just feels extremely well done, passionately done, and it’s a masterclass to me in what graphical fidelity as well as audio fidelity should be for a video game. 

    Pacing

    And as I said, pacing is where this game really shines because you have a narrator who is pushing the story along.  And you couple that with you’re going through each individual stage, maybe you find a little statue, you don’t know if it has any meaning, but then it will trigger something back in the house when you’re busy upgrading your character.  So, you’re gonna get more background of all these subtle nuances between the different family members and how they interact.  And it’s just – it’s so well-done.  And I think I might have mentioned it earlier, but I just said it just feels like it doesn’t waste your time.  It’s gonna give you these bits and pieces, but it just feels like the pacing is immaculate.

    Conclusion 

    So, really the most important question, is it fun?  And I can say, unequivocally, Children of Morta is a must-play game, especially for you RPG fans who love dungeon crawlers.  There’s just so much to be offered here for the price and I just think you really shouldn’t miss out on it.  I think everybody should at least give it a shot.  I absolutely love the narration, the graphical style.  The gameplay is fun, the story just moves along and gets you enveloped into the world.  It’s just – it’s really honestly a can’t miss in my view. 

    I didn’t bother to mess around with the local co-op.  That’s the one thing I’m regretting a bit.  But if you got somebody to play this with, honestly, I’m envious of you because I think it would be a great couch co-op experience. 

    So, that’s it, that’s my review.  I hope you’re all doing well.  Make sure you enjoy your gaming, enjoy your life.  Thanks for watching.  Have a good one.

    Nathan Wertzhttps://www.ThisAndThatTech.com
    Self-proclaimed Internet Sensation and owner of ThisAndThatTech.com. You may have also seen him spearheading the "Vets in Tech" interview series over at Military.com.

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