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Imagine being a tomb raider a few hundred years from now! You’d come across mysterious relics like fidget spinners and Hatchimals – clearly those were objects of religious reverence. You’ll also have to watch out for deadly traps, like foul smells coming out of abandoned refrigerators. It’d be a tough job, but a rewarding one, since you might just find the odd perfectly-preserved Twinkie to trade for clean water the next time you trade with other post-apocalyptic survivors. You should probably prepare for your new career in Curse of the Dead Gods, the latest run-based roguelite to hit the circuit.
You ever see Indiana Jones? You know how he mostly got away with raiding ruins without being horribly cursed? Well…you’re going to raid the local temple, but you’re not Indy. Instead, every nasty curse the ancient gods can come up with is going to head your way, ensuring that the longer you delve, the worse things are going to get for you. That’s not even considering the hordes of nasty monsters guarding the temple or the piles and piles of traps strewn all over the place. There are plenty of rewards to dig up, but you’re going to have to survive long enough to find them and get out.
Grab your trusty machete and pistol and get to delving! There are plenty of other weapons to find, including bows, throwing knives, maces and more, as well as magic relics that can grant useful boons. You’ll wield these against the temple guardians in a dodge-focused system somewhat reminiscent of 2020 Game of the Year Hades, though you’ve also got a parry ability that lets you counter incoming attacks with good timing. Basic attacks are freely available, but more powerful attacks as well as dodges and parries cost stamina, which regenerates rapidly when you aren’t doing anything else. Healing’s pretty hard to come by, as is the norm for roguelite games, so you’ll want to get on the ball when it comes to defense as soon as possible. You’ve also got a torch that can be used to light braziers and keep everything in the area visible, which can be vital to success in some cases.
Health isn’t the only resource you have to worry about, though. As you proceed through the temple, you’ll gradually become more and more cursed. Certain enemy attacks will also increase your curse value, while you’ve also got the option to pay in cursedness instead of money for items at shops or to trade increased cursedness for healing. As your cursedness builds up, you’ll proceed through five tiers of nastiness. These vary from game to game but they tend to include things like powering up specific enemies or messing with the gameplay in some fashion – you might start having to pay gold to enter new temple rooms, for instance, and paying in health instead if you can’t afford it. If you make it to the final tier, you’re in trouble, as this is usually a particularly powerful curse that’s guaranteed to end your run sooner or later.
When your run does end, you’ll head back to Curse of the Dead Gods’ hub area. You’re able to spend several kinds of collectible currency to unlock new weapons and perks that can spice up your adventures, as well as improving and unlocking a greater selection of starting loadouts. You’ll need these perks to survive as Curse stops going easy on you pretty quickly; enemies get nastier over time, the curses become more and more dangerous and you’ll have to spend longer in the temple to reach and battle the boss. Later runs are pretty harrowing as you desperately try to balance health loss, curse gain, properly gearing your character and dealing with enemies.
Curse of the Dead Gods looks pretty good, though it definitely tends toward the dark side in order to encourage you to use that torch. This might be a sticking point for some, as even when you’ve lit things up it might be a little difficult to see. Generally, though, everything’s pretty solid, the game runs well, sound effects and music are both great and there’s just not a lot to complain about on the presentation front.
Really, there’s enough going on in Curse of the Dead Gods that it ends up being one of those games that sticks with you when you aren’t playing. You’ll be plotting out new runs, contemplating how to deal with curses and considering what fantastic gear might show up next time you play. That’s the sign of a pretty solid game in my mind and it makes for an easy recommendation – give Curse of the Dead Gods a shot if you’re into roguelites, especially if you’ve finished Hades and developed a hankering.