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Curse of the Dead Gods is a fast, bloody action-roguelike with a striking visual style

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The most immediately notable thing about Curse of the Dead Gods, a new action-roguelike that debuted today on Steam Early Access, is its stark, striking visual style. It's colorful, luminescent, shadowy in all the right ways, and filed with high-intensity flashes of blood and fire. But the gameplay, while not exactly groundbreaking, looks really promising too.

Like all good roguelikes, Curse of the Dead Gods is a do-or-die crash through an apparently bottomless dungeon in search of gold and loot. There are traps all over the place, and all sorts of interesting monsters to kill in all sorts of interesting ways. You, unfortunately, are something of a monster yourself: The deeper you delve, the more the corruption of the dungeon and the creatures inhabiting it will build inside of you, enabling different abilities and powers but demanding a price in return.

The Early Access release of Curse of the Dead Gods includes the "Jaguar section," the first of three planned segments of the dungeon, each dedicated to a different god. Developer Passtech Games said that the game as it stands "is a fully-featured roguelite with a challenging curve, tight combat, and dozens of weapons, relics, curses, rooms, traps, and much more to discover." All the core systems in place, but everything is still in a beta (or in some cases, earlier) state.

"Throughout Early Access we plan to do large monthly updates, alongside smaller patches roughly weekly. Some of these may be unstable, and will use a special branch so that the core game is never in a messy state," the studio said in the Early Access FAQ. "Major changes can and will happen based on your feedback, and we’re excited to get started."

I've played a few minutes of the initial release, nowhere near enough to get a proper grasp of everything involved but sufficient to say that it's off to a really strong start. The mouse and keyboard controls are adequate, if a little clunky (the keyboard only enables moving along the eight compass directions), but the developer actually recommends using a controller—thus the controller map below. (It's not included in the game, sorry.) Also, courtesy of my hard-earned, dumb experience: Your torch and weapons are on separate loadouts, swapped with the 1 and 2 keys, and if you try to take on monsters with your torch you will die repeatedly, pointlessly, and infuriatingly until you figure it out.

Curse of the Dead Gods is available now for $15/£13/€15 on Steam, which the developers say will go up as new content is increased. You can find out more at curse-of-the-dead-gods.com.

(Image credit: Passtech Games)

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.