Be sure to avoid getting cursed in this new roguelite
Curse of the Dead Gods is an action roguelite in which you delve deeper into monstrous dungeons and confront the evils within. While it doesn't offer anything unique to the genre, it combines elements of games like Hades, Darkest Dungeon, and Dead Cells to create a familiar landscape - though its one which is sometimes bland and uninspired.
With the upcoming console releases, I played the game on Switch, with the portability allowing for a level of closeness to the gameplay that the PC lacks. It also ran perfectly for me, with only a few framerate hitches when the screen became particularly full of enemies. Otherwise, there are no changes, which is somewhat disappointing because, of course, I was hoping for a Mario costume.
Speaking of costumes, there aren't any. Certainly, Hades does not offer them, but Dead Cells does, and it goes a long way to providing another set of unlocks, and the ability to change out your wardrobe every so often.
Anyway, when first booting up the game, the art-style might remind you of Darkest Dungeon, which I found to be a welcome choice as it added to the gothic mystery present in the dungeon. This can also be found in the game's weapon portraits which grants an ominous feeling.
Soon, you will be met by a hub area, which acts as your stepping stone into the dungeon. The shop, which utilises three currencies, found from enemies, bosses, and completing missions, can be used to purchase upgrades to your character, unlock new weapons, and increase the rarity of pre-mission weapon offerings. In the vein of Dead Cells, these weapon offerings are on unlockable plinths, and are randomised. After choosing a weapon set, you will choose which mission you would like to undertake. At the beginning, three are available with only one champion (boss) at the end, though the later ones have two or three bosses.
There are three types of dungeon each with its own set of enemies, bosses, and traps. Though this goes some way to offering variety and replayablity, the temples are too similar in both theme and room layout, quickly becoming repetitive. As such, the runs are too similar - although they do become less so when you've unlocked more items. In my experience, the temples were generally of a similar difficulty, and only when progressing into the two- and three-champion dungeons does this difficulty become challenging. I say this as a good thing: the difficulty curve is accessible and the game does not throw you into the deep end and expect you to swim immediately.
Though these environments can become tedious, the gameplay is generally interesting and fun. The combat is slower than the frenetic movement of Hades, being more similar to Dark Souls' slow and methodical combat. Saying this, it does become faster when you become stronger, but this only reinforces the sense of progression. The weapons are also varied, with spears, daggers, whips, hammers amongst others, and begin to appear randomly in runs following their purchase from the hub store, along with the potential for effects like fire or extra critical damage.
Probably the most unique part of Curse is, you guessed it, the curse system. Your curse level increases each time you exit a door, and can be traded instead of gold at weapon and artifact altars. This lends a level of strategy to the game, as knowing when to sacrifice your sanity is going to benefit you in the long run. When your curse level reaches one hundred, you will receive a curse. Each dungeon has a number of unique curses as well as a general pool. These provide both debuffs and buffs, so they can be strategically held onto. They range from your torch no longer supplying light, to making your curse meter passively increase instead of when using doors. It's a fun system that increases the variety between runs. However, I was disappointed that there was only one fifth-level curse. It means you always know what it will be and so can prepare, but it removes any mystery from what is supposed to be the most dangerous curse in the game (and it is certainly almost run-ruining).
Overall, Curse of the Dead Gods is a pretty decent game. Though it doesn't bring anything of its own to the table, the features it combines from fellow roguelites it combines well, and with a certain strategic depth. I only wish it had more replayablity because, as it stands, seeing three very similar sets of environments, enemies, and bosses each run quickly becomes stale, and significantly decreases the longevity of the game. Saying this, I would still recommend it for a pick-up-and-play experience.
6 / 10
A familiar gameplay landscape. Varied weaponry. Strategic depth in combat and the curse system.
Often bland and uninspired. Lacks replayablity. Environments, enemies, and bosses are too similar.