Developer: Passtech Games Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Category: Rogue-like, Action, Adventure Release Date: February 23, 2021 Composer: Léon Shelby
All gamers have a niche. A genre that defines their player experience. My favorite genres are real time strategy. A close second are role playing games. With all things in life tastes change as we change, and gaming is no different. I didn’t start experiencing true rogue-likes until Dead Cells but they are quickly becoming one of my favorite styles of gameplay. There are a multitude of titles in the genre to enjoy, and the list continues to grow. Like many other genres, there are the good and the bad. Curse of the Dead Gods is easily a top-tier rogue-like.
Enter at Your Own Risk.
I have seen this title compared to Hades. Having not played Hades yet, I can see the influences of games like Diablo or Transistor in the treatment and functionality of the controls. This game is nothing short of unforgiving. Controls seem simple at first glance. Caradog McCallister starts his journey with a torch which can be used to light up rooms, or burn enemies. Other weapons provided range from guns, hammers, whips, swords, and daggers to name a few. All of these can be found in various parts of the game and may give different bonuses, like a damage bonus or electrocution. Dodge and parry are also available, and when used properly will either stun an enemy through parrying or return a point of stamina by dodging at the right time. The stamina bar is shown above the character and is affected by your attacks and dodging. This bar refills after a short period of time and certain abilities and items help replace the stamina.
Where Darkness Abounds.
Two main mechanics are used in this game to work simultaneously for you and against you. The first is the corruption gauge seen at the bottom right, with the curse indicators above it. Corruption is caused when certain enemies attack you and the bar fills slowly in the dark as well. Each full gauge will and passing through certain doors will corrupt you filling the curse indicators, each giving a modifier. For instance, chests will have traps and to disengage the trap you have to use a perfect dodge. However, the are a better quality of items in the chest. The fifth curse is always the same and called Xbeltz’aloc’s Truth causing your health will tick away until it reaches 1. Suffice it to say, you won’t last long. Benjamin Franklin once said, “A false friend and a shadow attend only while the sun shines.” This is true of the “light/dark” mechanic. Lighted areas are produced by your torch or lighting torches in rooms allowing you to see traps, and engage enemies with a little more ease but provide an extremely false sense of security. Traps are encountered often that can deter you in battle, but they are also an effective tool against enemies. When you draw your weapon the light will dim, and if torches aren’t lit, darkness will overcome you causing you to take 50% more damage from enemies. Enemies are able to extinguish flames in the room when certain attacks travel through the flame adding to the long list of priorities.
Game of Death.
As with all rogue-likes you are able to use a reward system to unlock a selection of blessings, weapons, and favors to help ease the sting of death. Items in this game, crystal skulls and jade rings are used to purchase abilities called blessings or unlock weapons after you have died. Once they are unlocked, abilities are available to use and cost nothing to deselect and replace. Unlocked weapons are released into the temple for you to discover. Each weapon altar adds a new weapon to the table so you have more options to select prior to your next run. The main, secondary, and two-handed weapon options increase the quality of starting weapons present at the altars. Divine favor is a type of reroll option. When you enter a room with relics or weapons as rewards you can select “use favor” to see a newer selection. You can have a maximum of 10 total favors to use. The number of Divine Favors is retained and they reset after each run, so the more the better.
Porta De Mortas.
At the end of each hallway there will be a door. The door provides an area map, and allows you to select your path. Each path will either lead to gold and treasure, a weapon upgrade, a health altar where you trade your health for corruption, a relic among the others which are listed in the photo above. There are three types of relic, constitution, dexterity, and perception. Constitution provides health bonuses, dexterity increases damage output to certain stats, and perception increases the amount of gold discovered. The question mark or “unknown” will be one of these areas randomized. There is a massive variety of enemies, and these can be tracked in the codex. The Codex works as a beastiary and gives information about each enemy. In order to survive until the boss fight at the end of the map, you will have to learn to use a combination of attack, dodge and parry.
The music in the game is exceptionally crafted. Every time a weapon is used it adds a weight to the atmosphere. Even when I was hit by an enemy, the sounds affected how I perceived the environment. I am terrible about ignoring the game sounds because I get so focused on original sound tracks. This title blends them both well. The art style, even as a cell shaded world, probably benefits more from PCs or other consoles, yet the Switch handles it well. It provides a massive and immersive experience, one that I am happy to have as a portable option.
Legend of a Not-So-Hidden Temple.
As rogue-like titles become more and more prevalent, it won’t be long before everyone will be searching for high end gaming titles; this is one. My frustrations with the game were of my own creation and poor ability, not a reflection of how fun this game is. If I had one complaint, I would have preferred a difficulty setting option. I love challenging games, but prefer to ease my way into new games and controls before leaping into “hard mode”. This game is nearly Souls level hard, or started that way for me. Curse of the Dead Gods has made it on my Physical Release wish list. While this is a Switch game review, I don’t care how you play it or what you play it on. Just play this game. Experience it yourself. You won’t regret it. I saw the above image a lot. I died more times than I could count, and you will to. Good luck running from the curses that lie waiting in the dark.
Buy Now: 19.99
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*The Switch Effect was graciously provided this game code for review.