PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There's no escaping it so let's get this out of the way early – Curse of the Dead Gods has got a lot in common with recent roguelite favourite, Hades. The visuals, combat and level structure of both games are definitely similar, although Dead Gods attempts to throw a few new tricks into the mix.
Firstly, the light mechanic, which allows players to deal more damage in well-lit rooms (and you'll also take more damage in the dark). Having to run around each room lighting torches just to protect yourself feels a little superfluous at first, although the game does play a few tricks later on which make it more worthwhile. And then there's the corruption meter, which builds up each time you enter a new room or get hit by certain attacks. When the meter fills – which can happen up to five times during the course of each floor – you're burdened with a random effect that changes the way you play. Most curses fall somewhere between kind of useful and mildly irritating, but a few of them, such as the level 5 curse that sees your health almost instantly plummet to a single point, are needlessly aggravating...
Being a roguelite means that the usual buffs and boosts are available during each run, and various currencies can be spent back in your hub which make subsequent attempts a little bit easier. After a while, the lack of depth to these items, and indeed the available weapons, can make things feel a bit more repetitive, and variation is similarly scant in the environments, enemies and sound design.
Curse of the Dead Gods has a lot of good ideas, although the merits of some of them take longer to make themselves apparent than others. At the same time though, a few less-desirable design choices hold the game back. Spending an entire floor upgrading your weapons only to have everything taken away at the end (you start each floor from scratch) feels like a punishment, and the meagre distribution of the vital currencies needed for permanent upgrades leads to a lot of grinding that more often than not goes largely unrewarded. The game might have only just come out of Early Access, but it feels like perhaps it could've done with a little bit longer in the oven.