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Children of Morta: Xbox Games Pass for PC serves up a winner

Microsoft’s Xbox Games Pass for PC added some fantastic games for the month of January, one of which is Children of Morta. Publisher 11 Bit Studios and developer Dead Mage combined to bring us a beautiful rogue-lite experience sprinkled with some innovative family dynamics to liven up the old recipe.

A small indie rogue-lite with a big heart. Children of Morta places you in the shoes of the Bergson family. A group of intriguing people threatened by the age-old and mysterious corruption.

At the time of writing, I have spent around 10 hours with the game and its characters or heroes as we know them in Children of Morta. Individual Characters, their quirks and skill sets are a fundamental part of any rogue-lite journey and the Bergson family does not disappoint. 

Children of Morta Characters
The Bergson family taking a break from all the monster slaying. [Image: Dead Mage]

In the sombre battle against the corrupted forces, you can play as one of 6 family members, switching between them as you progress through the game. It is essential that you play with all the Bergson characters as they do not only increase in power themselves, but they also buff the entire family at certain power levels.During my time with the game, the heavy emphasis on family was undoubtedly one of the strongest points of my experience. To have the strongest individual character, I had to invest in the entire family. Without their shared skills and buffs they can never really reach their full potential.

I love playing rogue-lite games and in most of these titles I have a certain archetype that I prefer playing. The character and the gear I receive would determine the value I placed on the run. If I didn’t get what I wanted, the run would be short and intense, aimed at maximum gain for minimum time. But if I had the character that I love to play or the gear I rate as powerful, I will handle the run with much greater care.

In Children of Morta, every run is valuable as the family grows stronger together.

Let’s meet the Bergson family:

John

One of the first heroes you can play with and the father of the Bergson household, John is exactly what you would expect. A sturdy sword and board type warrior resulting in an unrelenting assault upon the forces of the Corruption. My time playing with John was mostly pleasant. His Heavens Strike ability was an absolute blast to use, bashing my enemies into the ground with a barrage of swords from the sky. I did, however, have some problems against ranged mobs as John takes a while to close the gap. Spending time to level John means that the entire family receives buffs to their maximum health and health regeneration rate, which is hard to ignore!

Children of Morta John
John in the middle of some heavenly strikes. [Image: Dead Mage]

Linda

The eldest daughter of the Bergson family is the other of the two initial playable characters. Linda is much more nimble than her father and prefers the company of a bow and arrow in her dungeon crawling. She can shoot her bow and arrow while moving and while this consumes stamina I never found myself depleting my stamina bar completely. I found her tough to play during the early game but she became a force to be reckoned with once I had a few points invested in health and damage buffs. The time I invested playing with Linda resulted in some handy movement speed buffs for the entire family. While this might seem like a trivial reward, increased movement speed is one of the better upgrades.

Children of Morta Linda
Linda lining up some skellies. [Image: Dead Mage]

Kevin

With the introduction of Kevin into the story (which happens quite early) I found some new and interesting gameplay mechanics to explore. Kevin is the youngest son of the Bergson family and has the attitude one would expect of the little runt. Strangely proficient with daggers, the more of his hits that connect with his enemies the quicker he attacks. This resulted in some fantastic gameplay moments as I obliterated entire rooms full of enemies in the blink of an eye. As with most dagger-wielding children, Kevin has a fan of knives ability which I found to be quite underwhelming. Luckily the rest of his skill set made up for this one blemish. During the early game, I spent a lot of time playing with Kevin to level up his skills so the rest of the family could get some juicy extra critical damage. While it was a decent bump in damage, I expected more from the little guys’ contribution.

Children of Morta Kevin
Kevin slicing some skeletons with his daggers. [Image: Dead Mage]

Mark

Similar to his brother Kevin, Mark is a melee focussed character using his fists and trusty whip as primary damage dealers. Mark enters the story a short while after Kevin and requires a few story missions to get him on his feet and ready for battle. One of the primary mechanics that makes Mark different from Kevin is that Mark’s attacks lock onto their target. This results in him warping short distances to close the gap on his enemies and grind them to dust with his fists. His whip serves as a crowd control device grouping and stunning enemies unfortunate enough to find themselves in the attack range. I had some of my best combat experiences when Mark warped into a pile of stunned enemies and punched them into purgatory. His contribution to the family buffs also proves to be useful as he teaches them how to better evade enemy attacks.

Children of Morta Mark
Mark looking for some tranquility amidst the undead. [Image: Dead Mage]

Lucy

The only mage type playable character comes in the form of the youngest daughter of the Bergson family. During the early parts of the game, her development as a mage is narrated and every now and again players get a glimpse into her progress. Once she was ready to unleash her fireballs into the faces of spiders, goblins and other corrupted forces I had a magical time playing the little pyromaniac. During my time with the game, I had the best success rate playing with Lucy but she takes some getting used to. She can only cast her fireballs while she is standing still, which presents some obvious dangers in a dungeon full monsters charging at you from all directions. Luckily her skill set comprises spells such tornado’s and arcane shields to help her control the environment and her health bar! Lucy’s contribution to the family differs from the rest as she provides everyone with a free gemstone when they start a run. This enables them to open one extra gemstone chest per run.

Children of Morta Lucy
Lucy busy wielding some powerful magic. [Image: Dead Mage]

Joey

The last playable character to enter the story is the hammer-wielding cousin of the family. At the time of writing I did not have much playtime with Joey as he arrives around halfway through the story. I did however have a good time during the three or so runs I did with him. His hammer has a good range and swing arc making it easy to keep enemies at bay and he does decent damage. True to his brawling nature, he enables the Bergson family to have an increased rate at which they gain rage.

Children of Morta Joey
Joey showing of his impressive swing arc. [Image: Dead Mage]

Final thoughts

In conclusion, I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time with Children of Morta and the Bergson family. Through my efforts they grew strong, strong enough to push back the corruption and return to a peaceful existence. In the end, family really does matter. Children of Morta made our top 10 games of January list, you can read more about it here.