The Bergsons are an example of family values for any household fated to protect a magical mountain from an evil source of corruption. Your family could learn a little something too if you decide to play Dead Mage’s “Children of Morta” (Affiliate link).
As a matter of fact, if you decide to play on the recently released Nintendo Switch port (or any other console), the game is most enjoyably played with a second player. While playing with another person, the ups and downs of The Bergsons plight and their emotional struggles as a result of their adversity, will likely rub off on your gaming partnership with player two. In other words, the narrative of “Children of Morta” is written with care and it can be felt in its gameplay. More importantly, the characters and the family as a whole, have been lovingly crafted. The player can tell that the developers created this family dynamic with careful thought. it displays how The Bergsons are a tight-knit group with a lot of love and respect for each other and how these strong bonds may bend during such a turbulent time, but do not break. Their support for each other is what pulls them through to continue to protect Mount Morta.
The game starts off with Grandma Margaret Bergson detecting that a mysterious corruption has been spreading throughout the various areas of the mountain. She decides to call a family meeting and sends John, the warrior father, to scout to what extent this corruption has taken hold. This would be the player’s first chance at gameplay as the game teaches the ways of combat (unique to John) and the various mechanics of gathering different currencies and items used to improve your skills. As a rogue-like, this of course means you will use these to upgrade yourself to get as far as possible before death takes you. Toward the end of this tutorial, Linda, the eldest Bergson child, is waiting to help. From this point on, co-op will be an option. If you can, find someone to play and experience this with. Not only will it deepen the playthrough, but will also allow for a slightly easier time as you fight your way through the procedurally generated dungeons. By the time you have gone through your first few dungeon runs, you will have learned that all of the playable Bergsons have their own play styles, you can purchase permanent upgrades that affect the entire family through Uncle Ben as well as by upgrading the Book of Rea, and that there are even some additional characters to meet within the dungeons.
Aesthetically, the game uses highly detailed pixel art for its backgrounds which, at certain times creates beautiful set pieces and beautifully foreboding scenery, during others. While slashing, dodging and powering your way through, the initial enemy designs seem a bit uninspired, but quickly amp up with creepy spiders, imposing skeletons and more. The Bergson character designs are more simple than the scenery, yet still maintain enough detail to be destinctive and pleasing to the eye. The music and sound design are well done without any noticeable and annoying loops.
In the end, “Children of Morta” is an extremely enjoyable experience, even if it is played through in single player. The gameplay is smooth, although while playing on the Switch, the control configuration felt a little strange. However, this could be attributed to the Switch’s hardware as well as personal preferences. The mechanics are well implemented as is the upgrade system. You can also pick your favorite character with your favorite play style although you are not pigeonholed into choosing only one. Your playthrough of any dungeon is never the same with procedural generation, so the replay value is high while also giving the player a narrative to invest yourself in. No matter the platform, it will be worth your while to help The Bergsons protect Mount Morta.
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch
Genres: Rogue-like, Action, Co-op, Procedural Generation
Release date: 09/03/2019
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Developer: Dead Mage