There’s an old saying by American educator Thomas H. Palmer that goes something like the following, “If At First, You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” . This statement can probably be applied to video games more times than not. The phrase particularly applies to Passtech Games‘ action rogue-lite title Curse Of The Dead Gods which hit Steam PC last month to rave reviews. The game also hit the three major legacy consoles at the same time. That includes the Nintendo Switch as well on the same day. That in itself deserves kudos as typically a Nintendo Switch port lags behind its PC equivalent by months, if not years. Welcome to our Nintendo Switch review of Curse Of The Dead Gods!
It’s Difficult Not To Make Comparisons
When I initially saw the game’s Steam page it was hard not to think of last year’s excellent rogue-lite ARPG (action RPG like e.g. Diablo) game Hades. I bought Hades on PC where it originally came out and then bought it again for the Nintendo Switch. It was a good decision back then since I adore Hades on the Nintendo Switch. Based on that comparison I was ready to dive into another rogue-lite ARPG.
If you’re familiar with the game Hades then you’ll feel right at home playing Curse Of The Dead Gods. Both games have a similar formula, an isometric action RPG-like style where you make your way through room after room of baddies. Losing a life means retaining most of what you collected and going back to square one to try another “run”.
Both games have a similar comic book-like art style. Though to be honest Curse Of The Dead Gods‘ art style is closer to the works of Chris Bourassa, i.e. Darkest Dungeon. In fact, in a Curse Of The Dead Gods developer blog posted in February of 2020 there is a mention that, “During development, the team used to call the game a “3D Darkest Dungeon”, itself inspired by comic artists such as Mike Mignola.” Mike Mignola is probably best known as the artist behind titles such as the Hellboy comics. And there are definitely no complaints about the artwork here, it’s one of the things that literally drew me into the game (pun intended).
The Same, But Not
There’s not much story here. Essentially, you seek untold riches, eternal life, and divine powers. These desires lead you to an accursed temple. It’s a labyrinth of bottomless pits, deadly traps, and monsters. You try to get through each temple section without losing a life. If you do die then it’s back to the beginning where you can choose a different temple or event or “try, try again” to get through the current temple. You retain weapons and perks as you “respawn”.
Full Of Unique Features
While Curse Of The Dead Gods has a similar framework to Hades, “Curse” still does several things to differentiate itself from that other rogue-lite.
Some of these cool features that stood out to me were, e.g. the area map system. When you make it through one room of a temple you can choose what rewards you want to chase by selecting a path on an area map. While it’s not complete freedom it at least gives you some control over whether you want to pursue gold, weapons, upgrades, etc.
Curse Of The Dead Gods boasts a light versus darkness system as well. Since temple rooms are typically dark you’re always equipped with a torch, a la Indiana Jones. Within rooms themselves, you can light urns. Lighting some urns can set off an area of effect blast. Light also reveals traps. But darkness increases your damage. This is an interesting dichotomy that has you swapping between the torch and weapons, all while on the run.
Then there is the Corruption system. The purple gauge at the bottom right of your screen is the corruption gauge. Each door you pass through increases your corruption. For each full gauge, i.e. a set of diamonds, passing through the next door will apply a curse on you.
These curses tend to give you something (perk) but take away another. Some might argue that it’s a way to make the game artificially harder but it ends up making for interesting changes in gameplay mid-temple run.
Relics, Codex, And Events, Oh My!
Curse Of The Dead Gods also has a relic feature where throughout the rooms these monuments or relics can yield perks at a price. Each relic will offer you three choices and you can pay with an offer of blood (meaning you’ll gain some corruption), pay with favor (which is accumulated via rerolls), or pay with gold.
There’s also a codex/diary system that opens up lore, such as a bestiary, as you complete certain tasks. These missions are the typical “kill x number of so-and-so” mission type variety. It’s a nice feature for those that want to dig deeper into more of the game’s lore.
As you start a new run you can also choose to do one of three daily “unique try events”. These are one-off runs that offer special environments and unique conditions but that offer some better rewards as you get further and further.
There are also blessings, skills page, and weapon unlocks all similar things you’d find in other RPG-like games. Overall the game looks and plays well in docked and undocked mode. The only complaint is that movement doesn’t seem as snappy as in Hades. I’m not sure if it’s because the dodge and dash are a bit different between the two but it does take some getting used after playing Hades. Otherwise, there’s not much here to complain about.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Hades