Children of Morta is a game that has certainly flown under my radar, available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch this action, adventure, role playing game with rogue-like elements is developed by Dead Mage and published by 11 bit studios and it is certainly an interesting take on the genre. Children of Morta is a story driven game about an esteemed family of heroes who head out to attempt to put a stop to an impending corruption that is sure to destroy the world.  You will experience a unique pixelated designed world along with flashes of beautifully crafted artwork, a deep story to keep you wanting more and a mix of RPG and rogue-like mechanics that fans of the genre will surely enjoy.

Children of Morta doesn't have much of a title menu and is eager to get you in the game providing you with a list of 'New Game' slots as soon as you come off the title screen, there is a very basic 'Options' button that provides you with the basic graphics options such as resolution and v-sync along with basic sound adjustments such as music volume, SFX volume and subtitles etc. As soon as you select a new game slot you are transported to a beginning cutscene where a well voiced narrator introduces you to the Bergson's family and the current situation that prompts the father of the family who is named John to go and investigate signs of monsters and corruption out in the wilds. During this beginning cutscene it quickly become evident that this game had a very pixelated look to it along with some stunningly beautiful artwork as a back drop, this was something that I found quite charming and easy on the eye but if you are the type of gamer who must have those high end, realistic smooth graphics then this game might not be for you, but I implore you graphics isn't the be all or end all and Children of Morta proves that there is still a place in gaming for this graphical style of game with its gameplay.

Once the game finishes with it's introductions you are now in control of John as you head out in the wilds to investigate, the game is quick to tell you how to control your character through small basic pop up tutorial boxes which are easy enough to understand. On PC it is your standard 'W,A,S,D' to move directionally and left click on the mouse to attack and 'Left Shift' to bring up your shield....these are the basic controls that you learn for the beginning of the game. You will quickly notice or for me I quickly noticed how similar this game felt to games such as 'Ys' and 'Secret of Mana' in terms of the feel of the combat and the movement along with how the environment is laid out. Combat is your standard hack and slash with the common enemies proving to be nothing more than targets to just hit but be warned it is easy to get surrounded and overwhelmed by these resulting in demise, health occasionally gets dropped by enemies in the form of your typical red vials that has become somewhat a common theme in RPG's. During that first venture out with John the game introduces to you at a good pace the mechanics of the combat along with mini boss enemies who are surrounded in a yellow aura with a skull above their head who hit hard and fast. Occasionally enemies can drop shards which some chests you may find need to be opened which can result in you finding a temporary skill or buff to your character in the form of an artefact or a 'Divine Grace', Children of Morta does well to introduce players in an easy to understand manner to how the combat works.

As it has become common in all genre's of games in this day and age there is a levelling system in the form of a skill tree which you can invest points in that are earned every time your character levels up, these skill trees are not only a method of gaining skills but the more you invest in one characters skill tree the more boosts and buffs other characters in the game can have, a reason to invest time and XP in all characters and not just one. This leads me to the character system which came as a surprise to me and one that works especially well along with the theme of the story about a family of heroes, without spoiling anything you get to a point in the game where you come to a hub of sorts and the game opens up its rogue-like system, basically there are dungeons you need to work your way through to progress the main story arc. At the beginning of these dungeons you get a character select screen where you can play as various characters/ family members from the Bergson's family, but some of these needs unlocking through progression in the game. It is worth noting at this point that there is a two-player couch co-op option where you can play with a friend, it's great to have this option but you can't help to feel that some sort of online co-op would have been good too. These rogue-like dungeons are a method to grind for currency and XP and when you fall in these dungeons you keep all of your progress and get transported to the hub where you can unlock rooms in the family home that opens up methods to upgrading stats and improving your character ready to go back in to try and beat the dungeon, which resets every time you fall in battle and changes it's layout so as they are never the same as the time before. The dungeons are quite tricky at first and it took me a lot of grinding and upgrading to be able to clear each floor, there are ample amounts of standard enemies along with 'Elite' enemies and a boss waiting at the end too, bosses are unique each with their own mechanics to learn to be able to beat them. Each floor to a dungeon is like a maze littered with traps to look out for that hit hard and the dungeons seem well varied and are designed well enough for me to enjoy having to grind them. It is important to explore in these dungeons too because you never know what you will find, for example I wandered into a room with a wolf cub protecting its mother from enemies which I then had to dispose of and after a little cutscene it resulted in me adding the wolf cub to the family home, an awesome feature to keep you wanting to explore. It's also worth noting too that although you may be grinding a dungeon for a while and unable to beat it you still get cool little narrative moments in the game telling stories of the family and what each member has been getting up to and in some cases new characters being unlocked to play, this I feel played a huge part in me not getting frustrated at struggling to beat a dungeon and having to grind it.

We are all used to the standard story of fantasy RPG's by now....the world is in trouble and needs saving by an unlikely hero, the tried and tested formula has worked time and time again over the years in many games but this is where Children of Morta differs. In this game as you can tell by now if you have made it this far in the review is about a whole family, not just one hero. It is their destiny to stop the corruption that is spreading across the land, such as their ancestors before them and the ones before them with all of this told over the course of the game by a superbly voiced narrator and charming cutscenes. Let me say again how unique and beautiful this game can be at times and I commend the developers for their work, never have I been in so much awe at an indie games backdrop before. The music in this game is superb, its atmospheric and it adds to the feel of the game and at times got me pumped up and raring to grind that one more time. I will say unfortunately at times the voiced narrative cut off early resulting in the loss of the end of some sentences which did result in a loss of immersion at times.

From the moment I first loaded up Children of Morta I was pleasantly surprised; I don't play many indie games so to play one as deep as this one with a fantastic story that is superbly narrated was a pleasure. The voice acting of the narrator was top notch and professional, the music score was atmospheric and inspirational, and the game play was as good as any hack and slash game out there. There were a few issues with narration cutting out before finishing but apart from that you can't go wrong with Children of Morta, it's an indie game that is up there with the best of them and it is sure to keep you busy for hours upon hours especially if you are the type of gamer that enjoys a good grind.

Children of Morta is available right now on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.