REVIEW: Children of Morta: Ancient Spirits

REVIEW: Children of Morta: Ancient Spirits

A mysterious spirit is watching over the family

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: RPG, Roguelite
Developer: Dead Mage
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Release date: 7 Oct, 2021

Children of Morta was one of the breakout indie hits of 2019, which received near universal acclaim, including a well deserved Autosave here on Save or Quit. It was also a bit of a redemption story for the company that made the game, as they had previously made the Garshasp series, which did not receive near universal acclaim, but rather the opposite of that.

Ancient Spirits is the second DLC for Children of Morta and it adds a new playable character, Yajouj’Majouj, a spirit that can shift between two different forms, as well as a few new items and some cosmetic things. The new character is only available in the Family Trials mode, and not the main campaign.

Fiery doom is brought upon the clumped up enemies

The Family Trials mode was not something that was in the game at launch, but rather got added to it as a free update earlier this year. It’s closer to a traditional roguelike, or roguelite experience than the main campaign, where you need to delve into a deep, randomly generated dungeon, and see if you can make your way to the bottom. All the characters are available, and they have everything important unlocked. Do fit the more traditional rougelite structure progression has been overhauled, and you now earn more upgrades during your run, which are lost again upon death. There’s some light progression between runs, but nothing on par with the main campaign, and there’s no real overarching story.

Born of the spirits of a human and a goblin lover, Yajouj’Majouj is an interesting character, a spirit that can change form and by doing so changes its attacks. It’s almost like having two characters in one. The two modes have different regular attacks as well as different secondary attacks. In its first form Yajouj’Majouj is capable of launching long range attacks, that can hit enemies on the other side of the screen, as well as a more short ranged attack that sends out a swarm of small homing projectiles that strikes nearby enemies. In their second form Yajouj’Majouj can throw grenades at a medium range, that deal area damage where they land, as well as throw out a small companion that will pull in enemies towards it. Switching between the two forms, and thus the two attack modes, is as simple as hitting a button, and there’s no real limitations on when you can switch, nor no drawbacks to switching. Finally Yajouj’Majouj has an ultimate attack that can be unleashed in either mode, where they’ll send out a stream of homing projectiles for a short period of time.

Facing an old foe

Yajouj’Majouj is actually one of the easier characters to play. A mix of long ranged attacks and the secondary attack that pulls enemies towards a specific location makes it overall pretty easy to avoid enemies. This is far from the most durable character though, and Yajouj’Majouj can go down pretty fast if they get surrounded by enemies, particularly those with powerful ranged attacks.

There are also some new items added to the game. 15 to be exact, split evenly between Divine Graces, Divine Relics and Charms. These fit in well with the rest of the items that are already in the game, maybe too well, because it’s hard to even notice that they’re there, and unless you’ve memorized all the items in the base game then there’s a big risk that you won’t even notice them. They’re at least not overpowered. Take Quick Paws for an example, it’s a Divine Grace that will trigger when your health gets too low, and which will make your evade bar regenerate faster.

The final new addition are the cosmetic masks. Every character gets a couple, although all the mask for any given character is a recolour of the same mask. They also don’t look all that good. Their inclusion does not detract from the DLC, but they also don’t add much to it either.

This is one of the better looking masks, and it’s still not great

Closing Thoughts

It is a real shame that the new character isn’t available in the main campaign, because it is quite fun to play, and while the Family Trials mode is fun, I think the main strength of Children of Morta lies in its excellent main campaign. The fact that the new character is only available in the Family Trials mode does put this DLC in a somewhat awkward spot, where it will only really appeal to people who have beaten the main campaign and are thirsting for more Children of Morta. If that describes you, then this DLC is well worth its price, but if you’re mostly into the main campaign then the other new things this DLC adds are too minor to justify the price.

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