Curse of the Dead Gods is a rogue-lite isometric action game developed by Passtech Games. When it comes to rogue-lites, the market is fairly saturated, but this game stands out as a rogue-lite done correctly. Combat and controls feel good. The art style and interface are engaging. Plus, the big one, re-playability is very high. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Curse of the Dead Gods stand out in the genre.
Combat will seem very familiar if you’ve played any action RPGs, which helps to dive right into the action. This is a good thing too because there’s not much preamble here. After loading up for the first time, you’ll be tossed right into the temple. Three buttons are dedicated to weapons/attacks: primary, secondary, and two-handed. Secondary and two-handed are generally stronger attacks but will consume stamina when used. Dodging also uses stamina, so you’ll have to pay close attention to how you’re utilizing your stamina points to be successful.
Instead of dodging like a maniac to stay alive, you’ll have to parry attacks. This is a struggle at first, but after hours of fighting the same guys over and over again, the attack timings are no sweat. Unsurprisingly, there are traps all over the place, but they’re set up in a way that throws you into combat in some pretty hectic scenarios. Traps do a great job of heightening the tension instead of just being an annoyance. You never know quite what to expect at the end of a spike trap tunnel.
This all seems pretty straightforward so far, but what are some things that make Curse of the Dead Gods different? First off, one is the corruption feature. This is a unique mechanic where your character will become corrupted over the course of the playthrough, which adds random unwanted effects to the run. Some of these effects include things like reduced stamina or increased damage in darkness. Darkness you say? Yep, there’s a whole light and dark mechanic. Apart from weapons, you’ll receive a torch to help light your way. What’s tricky here is that you can’t hold your torch and weapons at the same time and will have to utilize standing room torches or lighting the enemies on fire to light your way. Of course, if you’re in total darkness, you’ll still be able to see enemies, but will take increased damage. Did I mention traps are only visible in the light?
Progressing through the temple will leave you with options as to which path to take. Here you’ll pick which upgrades will be present when beating the room. These will upgrade your character for the specific run you’re on, and generally fall into 3 categories: health, damage, and treasure find. Some upgrades will require a sacrifice to obtain, and here’s where it gets interesting. You can pay money as you’d expect, or you can pay blood which will increase your corruption. Don’t have the money, but can’t pass up an upgrade? You can have it, but you’ll have to suffer the consequences.
Then you die. Repeatedly. But hey…that’s part of the fun, so what now? Back at the beginning of the temple, there’s a fair amount of permanent upgrades to pick up to help future runs go a bit smoother. They fall into several categories like better starting weapons, better discoverable weapons, and blessings. They do things like increase the range of your light or start your playthrough with some doubloons. Overall, these upgrades feel balanced and a welcomed reward after a sudden and violent end.
The story is a bit lacking. I’m not really sure why the nameless hero wants to explore the temple in the first place, or who these Dead Gods even are. Now, this is a rogue-lite, so stories aren’t an absolute must, but it would be nice to throw a bit of story in there to help with engagement. Even a name on the hero would be nice or some interaction with the bosses. While the story is non-existent, the art and style are oozing all over the place. The color scheme and dark to light interactions are on point and really make the visuals explode with life. Even the interface is easy to follow and not cluttered. This helps so much with being able to dive into the fight and enjoy seamless gameplay.
Curse of the Dead Gods is a top-tier rogue-lite with tons to offer. With active developers and engaging content, this game is shaping up to be the next big title in the genre. Will you overcome the temple and claim your rightful riches, or succumb to the darkness and perish? The choice is up to you.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Curse of the Dead Gods for the PC provided by Passtech Games and Focus Home Interactive.