A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Children of Morta is a fantasy role-playing game set in randomly generated dungeons for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. Players take on the roles of members of a family with special gifts who feel it's their responsibility to protect the world from evil forces whenever they show up. The story focuses on their relationships with one another and how they support each other as well. Their expeditions see them taking on classic fantasy enemies including skeletons, giant spiders, and bats using a mix of medieval style weapons -- bows, swords, daggers -- and magical spells. The game's presented in a retro, pixelated style, which prevents much detail in combat beyond colorful splashes of blood that briefly stain the environment. Keep in mind that this is a challenging game designed to make players frequently fail and restart dungeons, which could prove frustrating for some players.
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What's it about?
An ancient corruption is descending upon the land in CHILDREN OF MORTA, and it's up to the Bergson clan -- long-time defenders against ageless evils -- to protect the world. Ranging from young son to aging grandma, each of the Bergons has a role to play, whether its telling the future, selling combat upgrades, or heading into the wilds on dangerous missions to fight monsters spawned by the corruption. Players choose their hero, then head out into randomly generated dungeons -- presented in a retro, pixelated style -- to rescue non-player characters, collect items, and take down a mix of minions and bosses. The heroes' powers are boosted during missions via the chance discovery of powerful special abilities and augmentations that are kept until they perish. And you can count on them dying plenty. One of the family's many special talents is the ability to respawn back at home upon death, where they can spend the money they've collected and advance the story by clicking on family members willing to chat before heading back out to fight more evil. Players can freely switch between family members, leveling up each one individually and unlocking their own unique skills. Two players can work together in shared screen local cooperative play.
Is it any good?
From its beautifully retro visual style to its surprisingly affecting family-focused story, this dungeon crawler delights in all the right ways. Children of Morta lays a familiar and firm foundation shared by other similar games, providing players an endless series of unique dungeons to explore while spicing up each run with randomly found, limited use abilities. The combat's simple yet challenging, with each member of the Bergson clan specializing in their own type of fighting -- ranged, melee, etc. -- so players can choose a hero with a fighting style that suits the way they like to play. But rather than using a traditional looting system that forces players to sort through mounds of weapons and gear, character growth is focused on a mix of upgrades purchased with skill points and currency, some of which improve stats for the whole family while others are character specific. It makes for a streamlined experience that keeps us moving rather than clicking around menus.
On top of this finely tuned action, players are treated to a terrific story written with poetic flare and emotion, and related by a baritone narrator who delivers each line with passion and conviction. We get to know each member of the Bergson family intimately, understanding their hopes, their fears, and the pride they share in their duty to protect the world from the corruption. The only hitch in the experience is the difficulty. This is a game designed to make players fail and start over -- repeatedly. It's not so cruel as to strip us of the experience or money we've collected or the objectives we've achieved, and the fact that dungeons are reconfigured each time you enter them keeps things from getting too repetitive. Still, players conditioned by other games to expect an easier go of it might get a bit frustrated having to restart locations over and over again from scratch. That said, if you're not scared away by a challenge, Children of Morta will provide a bounty of retro dungeon crawling fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Children of Morta affected by the retro, pixelated visuals that minimize how bloody combat is? Would the impact be intensified if the violence was more realistic? Are there ways that a game like this could include more non-violent activities?
Do you think the Bergsons are a good family? Do you understand why the kids want to follow the family tradition of fighting evil to protect the world, and why the mom is reluctant to allow them?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 11 bit Studios
- Release date: September 3, 2019
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Mild Language, Violence
- Last updated: May 6, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.