Who doesn’t want to seek riches beyond their wildest imagination in a quest for unparalleled immortality and power? This is exactly what Curse of the Dead Gods lets you do in a traditional action / RPG style with roguelike flair – as long as you don’t mind pesky curses along the way.
You are Caradog McCallister, a character immersed in a living nightmare plagued by curses, death, and an endless array of traps meant to torture and maim. Be prepared to die a lot, even if persistent progression takes the sting off your demise. As you fight for survival, you find a plethora of weapons and gear to unlock and progress, including primary and secondary weapons, as well as ranged and two-handed weapons. You can also combine different types of weapons, making it a bit easier to face off head-on in a dark dungeon filled with terrors.
The true power of weapons shines through in hammers and pistols, but shields and bows come second when preparing for the next wave of battle. The pistols offer a solid range with an impressive amount of damage, which you can further improve with upgrades. The hammer is my favorite option; it just feels like a beast, even though he’s a little slower to land the final blow, the impact he has on enemies far exceeds his lack of speed.
To unlock each weapon, you take certain paths that indicate the reward that awaits you at the end, so that you can plan your own progress to a certain extent. You also accumulate Green Rings and Blue Skulls with each run, which are used to unlock new weapons and add new buffs. Upgrading favorite weapons is also pretty straightforward, both with approach paths with upgrade options available and paying homage to the gods with blood, purity, or gold. This mechanical structure was something I liked because it made it easier to strategize on how I wanted to approach upgrades and what I was willing to give up for better stats.
Customizing the combat experience to your liking is easy. For me, I like to combine my attacks, bringing with me a weapon that has range abilities (like a bow or pistol), or a big hitter like the aforementioned hammer or spear. Chain attacks create a more powerful way to approach danger, but it’s important to leverage your strengths. If you like to take a more strategic approach, ranged attacks and shields will be your best bet. Paired with the right buffs, navigating dangerous curses can be a little easier to do for those who play their cards correctly.
With each race, you encounter different curses that hamper your abilities in different ways. A meter next to your health bar indicates how much corruption you gain. If that bar reaches 100, congratulations! You are now cursed. Each time you enter a room, your corruption counter increases. It’s a must-see part of your adventure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get around it.
The curse system makes every game exciting because it changes the variables. Curses can change the way you take damage, how your own damage is received. It changes the nature of the temple itself and it impacts your status. It’s a central part of the game mechanics, making navigating curses and corruption an interesting aspect of the journey itself.
Unless removed, the curses will remain active for the entire race, but the silver lining is that you can remove them. At the end of each area card, there is a boss. Take down the boss and the curse is removed. Of course, these are gods we’re talking about, so there’s always a catch: you can only remove one curse, so strategy again plays a key role.
You cannot control the type of curse you receive (they are random), which adds spice to repeating your runs. The only exception to this is the Final Curse, which always activates when your corruption meter reaches the last stage. Since I tend to make ham when I enter high risk areas, I really had to prepare myself as this curse ensures that survival is as difficult as possible. Death is inevitable, but this increased danger is another way to break the monotony.
Roguelites feature repetition by design, but the loop in Curse of the Dead Gods ages quite quickly. The traps become predictable, the enemies all start to bleed together, and he ends up losing that “shiny new adventure” appeal. Where roguelites like Hades bring an inventive touch to the format and take it to new heights, it takes a more familiar approach. That’s not a bad thing, but it does require a great tolerance for repetition and a devoted love for established conventions.
One downside is the lack of vocals beyond general growls, which presents a unique juxtaposition when diving into this world. At the beginning, the calm makes it easy to feel the desolation of this character; I felt his loneliness and his despair. The more I played, however, the more disconnected rather than nuanced that silence felt. Even a few lines of vocals would have helped build this character and this world immensely.
Overall, Curse of the Dead Gods is a solid roguelite, although it doesn’t attempt anything groundbreaking or ambitious. Its familiar approach to gender-specific structure makes it easy to dive in without fear of losing the challenge. The different strategic approaches available with the upgrade system also make progression rewarding. The artistry, variety of curses, and the general formula followed by Curse of the Dead Gods make this a story worth exploring, even if the moral of the story is that greed equates to a painful and agonizing death. .
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