Rogue-likes has been one of the more popular genres as of late, with a lot of indie developers choosing this route for the artificial depth it always comes with. With the market so crowded with rogue-likes of every conceivable genre in the sun, it is really hard to stand out from the crowd. Yet, Children of Morta was able to do it.
The first thing that it did right is the story. Usually, rogue-likes would focus on map design, combat, enemy types, character abilities without much concern on actually creating a good story. However, Children of Morta is different. The dev has done pretty well in creating a simple but fluid story, with character developments and interactions that would keep you on the edge of your seat to see what happen next on the Bergson Family’s quest to end evil.
About the gameplay, Children of Morta has ticked all the checkboxes in the usual Rogue-like RPG checklist. An array of characters is available for you to choose, each has unique skills and abilities. With that character, you would journey through randomly generated levels, getting randomly distributed gears and updates, and facing a boss at the end of a level. Overall, Children of Morta followed the formula pretty closely, but with its own unique twists.
The premise of the game is about a family of warriors who are entrusted with the responsibility to protect Mount Morta. However, due to various circumstances, they have neglected it – giving rise to evil and corruption. As a family, the Bergson is pretty much dysfunctional – they physically live together but are actually very far apart – the game started with them fractured and without unity.
This theme is incorporated into the game, with the family gradually getting back together during the event of the game, and finally become whole. It is also incorporated into gameplay, with the family bonus system. As you getting through the dungeons and venture deeper, your characters get more levels and skill – and after a certain number of points has been spent, the next passive skill becomes available to all family member. As a family member grows stronger, the others would also get inspired by their tenacity.
Another great aspect in Children of Morta is the character designs. The developers have put so much effort into creating each of the playable Bergson family members. Their gameplay mechanics are based on their own personality – so much that even without the context of the story, you can more or less guess what they would behave like. John, the patriarch, move slowly but are a stoic defender; while Kevin, the black sheep of the family, always charging in headfirst. The changes amongst the Bergson's might at first seem like nothing much, however, after a few hours into the game, you would be able to recognize their distinctly different playstyles. The aforementioned skill-sharing mechanic is also a great boon – and with it, even underleveled characters can shine in late-game maps.
That is pretty much the selling point of Children of Morta. Furthermore, the devs also provide you with some of the adorable shorts about the Bergson’s family after each run. With that, the players would get a sense of familiarity – with Mary and John’s dance near the fireplace, or Kevin’s nightly practice in his room.
The developments for both the family members individually and the family as a unit getting weaved into the story and gameplay is probably the part I like most in Children of Morta. It is indeed strange to have a rogue-like with a rich story – and getting more of that in the future is everyone’s hope.