Developed by Passtech Games and published by Focus Home Interactive, Curse of the Dead Gods sets the player in a temple with multiple paths in the pursuit of riches, eternal life, and divine powers. A labyrinth littered with monsters ranging from undead to apparently mechanical in nature. Be prepared for a difficult journey.
Eager to have the player jump right into the action, almost assuming they know what they have gotten themselves into, the game opens up with the character standing in the middle of a glowing rune with only one way to proceed. A large, round door marks the temple’s entrance, and offers a choice of paths. Choose a level of difficulty from Short, Medium, Long, or Hard exploration, and then chart the course. In Curse of the Dead Gods the player can chase after gold, relics, weapons, a haven, a place to add to your stats, or a destination with unknown consequences. Choosing one path will close doors to others, so decide carefully.
An eerie ambiance is set with creepy music and whispers in the dark, which remains steady throughout the temple and even during fights. Sound effects for strikes received and taken, the activation of traps, are crisp and clear. Every weapon has a different effect, and the gun clicks just before the explosion of the bullet firing out of the barrel. Those are great and add to the intensity, but without a change in soundtrack the fights lack any sense of excitement.
Along the way the player will learn more about how to play Curse of the Dead Gods, and that seems intentional but lacks a story that usually drives someone to want to persevere. Gold, or blood, can be donated at altars to earn relics that temporarily change stats or weapons with attributes. No singular path is better than another, but do not exclude any havens by choosing a path filled with gold. A haven will allow the player to replenish their health but at the cost of gaining corruption. Relic locations will offer less gold loot in exchange for relics which provide boosts to stats to help make this dark journey easier.
As the title of the game suggests, a curse is at work ravaging the player character. Corruption is also accumulated by taking damage, and in the end can give some pretty nasty negative effects. They vary, and some are double-edged swords. Mortal Harvest changes the gold in urns to blood, which replenishes health but consuming it will increase corruption. Cadaverous Infestation causes regular enemies to spawn additional monsters upon death. Dark Swiftness makes the character like a phantom during a dodge, but also removes stamina regeneration for a perfect dodge. Another plays with braziers. Throughout the temple the character will always carry a torch by default to help light the way and reveal traps. Braziers will be scattered around to light that will keep the darkness, or corruption, at bay, but they can also be destroyed by the player or foes during a fight. One negative consequence of corruption can make some of these burn with perpetual darkness and are unable to be lit with a torch, which complicates matters during battle.
Battle is exciting. Utilizing a combination of melee and ranged weapons, or melee and shields, all with their own attributes, but is limited by stamina. To start, the player will have only five azure diamonds of stamina seen beneath the character. Keep this in mind when facing a multitude of creatures. Rolling out of the way is a skill I utilized to avoid taking damage. I often found I could not move out of the way of an incoming dark magic orb because I wasted all the stamina dishing out damage. Stamina recharges quickly while running around to avoid being hit or standing still after the battle is won. Melee and ranged attacks can be charged, and some advanced tips are provided in the top left corner of the screen to help the player get more accustomed with short combos. What the tutorial does not teach is that the spider webs on the floor can be set ablaze, or that devices are set up to spray fire when lit with the torch, which acts as a weapon as well to burn enemies.
Upon that inevitable death, or at the completion of the map when the Champion is defeated, the player can spend skulls they earned during their quest for Blessings to help in traversing the temple.
Curse of the Dead Gods is nicely put together with some distinct and vivid cell shaded graphics that make for a fluid game play. Moving around with keyboard and mouse, the player will use WASD for direction but the mouse controls which way the character faces. The gamepad offers a more seamless style, moving the character with the joystick and always facing the direction he walks. The buttons are nice as default, but they are configurable for either gamepad or keyboard.
The random delivery of curses, relics, and weapons, along with procedurally generated maps and locations, makes each playthrough unique. A certainly exciting aspect, though the climb to increase your skill can feel daunting. A challenge for those who choose to take on the quest for gold, immortality, or ultimate power. Fun, lacking in story, but offers a wide variety of game changers to make every attempt to reach the champion different from the last. Curse of the Dead Gods is currently in Early Access on Steam.