Children of Morta was announced in 2014 as a roguelike action game about the Bergsons, an extended family that's served as the guardians of the mystical Mount Morta for generations. It was expected to release in 2018 but at the last minute, developer Dead Mage Studio delayed it into 2019. With launch now just a few months away, the studio has released a (very) time-limited demo that covers the first chapter of the story and two playable members of the family: John, the father, and his eldest daughter Linda.
I had some issues getting the demo to run, including one crash-to-desktop, but after a reboot it fired up and ran without trouble. More importantly, it was very impressive. I only spent about 20 minutes with it, enough time to run through the tutorial and get a taste of the Bergson's weird world, but I really liked what I saw. Gameplay is very similar to Diablo, with primary and secondary attacks, dodging, and defensive maneuvers, and while each family member appears to be the equivalent of a character class—John is a sword-swinging fighter, Linda is a rogue with a bow—each of them can be customized through skill trees and whole-family upgrades.
The mechanical part of the game (what I've seen of it, anyway) is fairly conventional: It's everything else that promise to make Children of Morta stand out. The pixel-art graphics are spectacular, the music and narration are spot-on, and even though the Bergson's home feels downright cozy, there's an ominous edge to it all that reminds me of those old-time fairy tales where terrible things happen to small children. I didn't find any of the random dungeon events Wes and Austin talked about last year, but I'm eager to dive back in and go digging for them.
For reasons I don't fully (or even slightly) understand, the demo will only be available until June 22, which is a shame because it's really good. If you've had any interest at all in Children of Morta, I'd strongly urge you to grab it from Steam and give it a run while you can. And if you miss out, the good news is that, barring further delays, the full release isn't too terribly far away: The Children of Morta Steam page has it slated for launch in September.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.