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Try the Children Of Morta demo before it vanishes on Saturday

The family that slays together.

It wasn't until I tried Dead Mage's action roguelite Children Of Morta myself that I understood what John Walker said about it last year - that its pixels are brimming with animated charm. You can try it for yourself, too, and should probably do so quickly, as the demo available now on Steam is only going to be up for grabs for 72 hours. It's an action dungeon crawl for one or two (local) players, but more story-driven than most, with you playing as a three-generation family unit of adventurers trying to stop a magical apocalypse while living their daily lives. Below, a new trailer.

Under the pixels, Children Of Morta isn't anything revolutionary. A top-down action hack n' slasher, with experience, loot, levels and skill trees. It does play nicely though, with invulnerable dodge rolls and  satisfyingly powerful sword attacks from the initial player character and father of the family. Over time you unlock another five heroes, starting with the eldest daughter, an archer, and open up more options and side-quests around the house in between sorties. Characters can't die, and are just warped home if they're about to croak, so you don't need to worry about it turning tragic.

It's the framing of it all that makes the game feel notable, and it's easy to see why the game has been in development for an age. Adam Smith first covered it in 2014, and I'm willing to believe the devs have spent the intervening five years painstakingly animating its heroes, monsters, and painting its grandiose vistas. They seem rather proud of it, with the demo slowing down a few times just to let you gaze off a mountain ledge at impossible landscapes full of floating islands, multi-mooned skies and glowing magics. It's high on its own fantasy, and I reckon that's just fine.

Children Of Morta launches August 28th, priced at £16.64/€19.79/$19.79. You can find it here on Steam and, eventually, GOG. It's published by 11 Bit Studios.

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