The difficulty has become something of a hot-button topic for a lot of gamers. Some people want to have endless challenges, others want a learning curve and some just want to play. This has led to the rise of the roguelike genre, as you can largely control what you unlock and things usually get easier, without ever being outright predictable. Sometimes you’ll be extremely powerful and other times it’s a shock you even beat the first area. Curse of the Dead Gods builds on this by offering solid gameplay and a lot of mechanics, but is it worth lifting that curse?
Similar to older games, Curse of the Dead Gods is little more than a premise. You find a temple that offers power, riches, and immortality, but to get these items you need to survive a seemingly endless series of challenges. There really isn’t much more than you’re fighting your way through the temple and if you’re lucky you’ll make it further. Honestly, there doesn’t need to be a whole lot going on if the gameplay is there and I’d say it is.
The core idea of Curse of the Dead Gods is relatively simple. You start with a torch and some kind of weapon and you need to transverse a series of dungeons through wit, luck, and correct choices. Where things start to get complicated is the seemingly endless mechanics.
Darkness increases your damage and hides traps, so you’re encouraged to use your torch. Certain traps, oftentimes activated by your torch, can be used to damage enemies or give you an edge. There are also things you can set on fire, including enemies, lighting your path without that debuff. From here, there are a lot of choices.
After clearing a floor, players have a variety of different paths they can take. Every path gives you an idea of what to expect, so it might be health, weapons, upgrades, or whatever and you need to choose the right course for this run. Everything has an option and I wouldn’t say anything has an objective best choice. Trading health for a buff might make sense, but excessive greed will lead to curses, and said curses can either make or break a run. Sometimes it will help you and other times hurt you, it just depends on what you get.
Likewise, there will always be a given and take with items. Sometimes you might find something weaker that has better application and other times it might be trading versatility for power. Eventually, when a run ends, certain resources are retained and can be used to aid you on a later run. This can be a useful buff, more weapon choices, unlocking better gear, or simply having the ability to change what you’re being offered. All this can make a difference, though skill is extremely important.
My most successful runs were rarely the ones where I got the best gear, but rather, made the most of what I had. Things like traps are far more valuable when you have four enemies rushing and a wall of flames kills everything without putting myself at risk. There is also a sense that things are relatively manageable, at least in the first area, without a lot of progressions. Where some roguelikes make a mistake is making the barrier to high or low, resulting in a negative experience. Curse of the Dead Gods finds a sweet spot in the middle where gear can influence the outcome, it just won’t dictate it. Your ability to dodge, parry, and attack will always matter more than if you have a spear or throwing knives.
All this being said, Curse of the Dead Gods has some slight issues that hold it back. Even when reviewing it on a PlayStation 5, the load times are rather high. Just loading up the daily event takes about 20 seconds, though the performance was fine. Graphics are also not that impressive, though Curse of the Dead Gods more than makes up for it by being versatile (breakable objects, different lighting, etc).
Curse of the Dead Gods Review – Verdict
I had a lot of fun playing Curse of the Dead Gods and it’s fairly addicting once you get the mechanics down. For better or worse, it is rather mechanic heavy that may or may not be positive. Often times it can be a bit convoluted and ultimately a less aggressive playstyle will make up for a passive one with the torch or being overly greedy. Given it’s a great game to pick up and play and it doesn’t take particularly long to get the hang of it, I strongly suggest giving it a go if you’re looking for something to scratch that roguelike itch.
[Editor’s Note: Curse of the Dead Gods was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and the publisher provided a copy for review purposes.]