Curse of the Dead Gods Review

Curse of the Dead Gods Review

If there’s anything of a new hotness in the gaming world, it’s definitely roguelikes. Crawling out from under the towering presence of open world survival titans like Minecraft, RUST, and ARK as well as the battle royale scene with Fortnite and Apex Legends, Roguelikes have been slowly rising to the top over the past few years.

Passtech Games’ first debut into the genre comes out of the gates fast and hard, and became a smashing success out of Early Access. Curse of the Dead Gods features creative and exciting mechanics that make it stand out among the crowd, as well as a striking art style reminiscent of Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame).

Chasing XP Podcast - Curse of the Dead Gods

Curse of the Dead Gods starts you off with a simple premise: You’re an adventurer trapped in the ruins of a Chatac temple, heavily inspired by Mayan and Aztec culture. You get a machete and a pistol and you’re off to find the way out.

Or are you?

Curse of the Dead Gods Review

Cursed To A Miserable Fate

Well, it turns out you’re cursed to roam this labyrinth of never-ending traps and enemies forever. As you go deeper, you become more corrupted and the game steps up the difficulty. Eventually, you may find yourself face to face with a champion of the Dead Gods. If you survive….well, you’re back at the start of the temple.

“Why are you cursed?” you ask, sitting on the edge of your seat.

Curse of the Dead Gods Review 2021

Well….I dunno? The game unfortunately lacks a strong story behind the amazing gameplay. There are some tidbits of lore tucked away behind unlocks by defeating enemies, but there are no cutscenes or dialogue about who you are and where you are. It all requires a bit of digging, which to me felt like a letdown.

Now, that’s not to say that all roguelikes need stories with them. A good setting is all you need to play Risk of Rain 2, or a creative deckbuilding component to get lost in Slay the Spire. But for a game with such striking visuals and a rich setting with plenty to draw from, the game falls a little flat for me.

The combat is where Curse of the Dead Gods really shines.

Curse Of The Dead Gods vs Hades

Those who craved more difficult combat from Hades or more thoughtful dodges like in Dead Cells will be right at home here. You start with five points of stamina, which is used by dodging, combo finishers, and some two handed weapons. You can regain stamina by waiting, but that makes you a sitting duck. Instead, you need to weave your attacks with your dodges, and stay safe. If you manage to perform a good parry, you’ll even regain some stamina to keep the flow of combat (as well as feel really rewarded when you land a sorely-needed parry).

Curse of the Dead Gods Gameplay
Curse of the Dead Gods Review 2021

On top of that, the game offers a ton of weapons and weapon combinations, with 11 total weapon types to choose from, and each type offering 8 unique weapons within them. That’s a LOT of variety, more than you usually get from your average roguelike.

Now that you’ve got the rhythm down, you’re able to fly through some of these levels, and I mean fly. Maybe I’m just too into roguelikes, but I found most levels being really short, and combat not being enough. Maybe there wasn’t enough enemies that spawned, or maybe they were just not that difficult in the first place, but I often breezed through most of the first 5-7 rooms. Maybe I’m just too used to the infinite spawning hell of Risk of Rain 2 or the constant fear as I turn up the heat in Hades, but I breezed through more rooms than I’d like to.

Unique Light System

One of the unique mechanics added to the game is the light system. Simply put, you got a torch and you gotta use it! Having your torch out lets you see traps ahead of you, spot enemies and loot, and overall make your life easier. The downside is that your torch takes up your main weapon, so you have to offset higher damage for vision. On top of that, if you get hit by an enemy or a trap while it’s dark, you’ll take more damage.

Curse of the Dead Gods Review

There are some sconces and whatnot that you can light in some chambers so you can see better, but in my experience they always seem to be extinguished by an enemy as soon as I light it. Instead, I opt to just light one of the baddies on fire (a totally valid strategy) and use them as a natural source of light.

You’ve cleared this floor and you’re ready for the next one. You approach the door, pick your path, and BOOM! You gain some corruption. What’s that? Well, if you fill up the little purple bar in the bottom right, you get a curse. Curses can be wildly different, I’ve had some easy ones that make almost no impact in my run, versus some that made me regret every choice I made so far. It helps keep the game fresh without going overboard. You can also get corruption at any shop you visit, since the game allows you to purchase new relics and weapons with either gold or blood.

Curse Of The Dark Visuals

Now that we’ve talked about most of the core mechanics, let’s talk about the visuals.

Curse of the Dead Gods is a beautiful game, hidden under a very dark world. The art style is grim and beautiful, very reminiscent of Hellboy and The Walking Dead (not the show, the graphic novel).

The floors you run through as you traverse one of the three temples offered (with a fourth coming later this year) are unique and each one stands out from the others. The enemies are unique and interesting, as well as the bosses that await you at the end. Some sections of the game I have felt were too dark, even with my trusty torch in hand.

The few cutscenes the game offers are very well done, with the intro cinematic simple yet powerful. Even the brief scene when you receive a new curse is beautifully animated and iconic. I do wish there were more, to better explain the world or the dead gods we’re fighting against, but maybe that will come in a future update.

Scratch Your Roguelike Itch

At the end of the day, I’m a sucker for roguelikes. Curse of the Dead Gods scratches all of my itches, with unique mechanics presented in an interesting world. However, I do have a couple (minor) issues with the game.

As I stated, the gameplay has a steep learning curve, but plateaus fairly quickly for me. Maybe I didn’t play enough, but by the third temple I was breezing through most floors with little to no issues.

I have no issue picking up a new game, flying through the tutorial and learning the game. But there are just so many mechanics I have to keep in mind while playing the game, that it slowly becomes decision paralysis.

Do I run and dodge to find a place to light this room and fight? Or do I risk it and hope I don’t get hit more than a few times?

Is this weapon really worth that much corruption? Would I be better off with what I have right now?

Do I dodge? Do I parry? Do I need a new weapon for this next floor? Do I want to get a relic? WhichstatdoIincreasenext? WhichcurrencydoIneedtounlockthenextweaponorbuff?

There are a lot of things to ponder about in this game, which I worry will be a turnoff for those who aren’t prepared for it. Especially those coming off the heels of Hades, another similar title with far less decisions to make that actually impact the game.

Curse Of The Dead Gods Review Summary

Would I recommend it? Absolutely, but with a caveat.

For those who are not as invested in roguelikes as I am, I would watch our gameplay footage first to see if it’s something you’re willing to play.

If you like roguelikes, or want a unique and moody atmosphere for a game, by all means pick up Curse of the Dead Gods today.

Interview: “Ebon Light” Developer Ahnna From Underbliss

Interview: “Ebon Light” Developer Ahnna From Underbliss

Ebon Light developer, Ahnna, started out her journey in Video Game Land a little differently, but still managed to put together one of the most acclaimed indie titles in her niche. With her “teeny tiny studio” of one, her visual novel saw immediate success and built a hefty following in a very short amount of time. The playthroughs and reviews still get a lot of traffic on YouTube, and the genre still continues to grow, with new visual novels appearing regularly for hungry fans.

If you have ever wondered why visual novels were so popular, you just have to take a look at the fanbase they accrue. We are talking loyal, dedicated fans and communities who love to discuss the inner workings of the deftly created characters and worlds. Ebon Light’s fanbase is no different.

Ebon Light Reviews
Ebon Light Reviews

We were keen to find out more about the game’s success, and the developer herself, Ahnna…

“Ebon Light is a dark fantasy visual novel with romantic subplots, lots of choices, a customizable protagonist, and multiple ways to die.”

Ebon Light, Underbliss

Hey Ahnna! You started out in game development a little different than most – artwork as a teenager?

Hi! Oh yes, it’s true! The broody elves I used in my visual novel were initially a product of my teenage mind, which I’m sure is very, or not at all, shocking. Art was initially a means to an end, as I had characters and stories I wanted to show my friends and that was the best way for me to do it. I certainly had no idea at the time that I’d eventually make a visual novel with some of those characters back then, but here we are!

Ebon Light Character Creation

Your “teenie tiny little game studio” consists of just you, which is an incredible achievement! Did you also animate the scenes yourself?

Thank you! Yes, I did! In Ebon Light, that was mostly fiddling with rotations and transparency values.

We enjoyed the depth of the story, but most notably, the characters come alive quite effortlessly. Were there any you liked/disliked writing more than others?

Duliae, something of a driving force for the whole story, arguably one of the antagonists and a potential love interest of the main character, was always fun to write. I also loved to write Laceaga, who is just very rude. Writing treachery is very fun. What may be a little interesting is that Vadeyn, one of my oldest characters, was one of the more tedious to write. I wouldn’t say it was difficult, perhaps even the opposite, too easy because he was an idea cemented long ago.

Ebon Light - Underbliss

The artwork in the game is sublime; absolutely a requirement for the genre. Can you tell us a bit more about your methods/medium?

Oh, thank you! Originally, it was all drawn in Photoshop with a drawing tablet, but toward the end of development I began to use my iPad with the Procreate app. With digital art, you can hack things up and blend them together again and again until they start to look good, and I think if I were to describe my process, that’d be it.

Since 2019, have you worked on any more games?

I’ve been working on a few ideas, but nothing beyond that, nothing concrete yet!

Ebon Light Screenshot

The game has seen great longevity and had amazing feedback since the beginning. VN fans usually also enjoy the community/discussion around the games. Did you receive any feedback early on in release that made you realize how popular it had become?

I have, yes, and it’s surreal to see so many people enjoying a game I wasn’t sure anyone would play! I’m not sure I had any idea, no, though in retrospect that so many people were willing to wait so long for the final release should’ve clued me in.

One of your fans’ favorite features is the custom character design. Was this difficult to implement from a technical perspective?

It was not difficult, but certainly tedious and time consuming. I think it goes a long way toward immersion, often helping players connect with the main character right off the bat.

Ebon Light Screenshot

Developing such a rich story that weaves between so many moving parts must be extremely difficult?

There were definitely times where I’d get lost (and frustrated) trying to find loose threads, backtracking to connect the dots again and again, certainly a fair bit of chaos. Sometimes I’d get stuck trying to figure out how to write a bridge from one section to another so that it seemed cohesive and smooth, but that was usually a matter of brainstorming for a while and then going with whatever the best idea had been.

What are you most proud of with Ebon Light?

How immersive some say it is for them! If you’d asked me what I wanted Ebon Light to be before it was released, I’d have said an immersive story.

What advice would you give to any aspiring visual novel designers?

I hope this does not seem very obnoxious, but start small, and do what you must to finish it. It doesn’t matter if it’s exactly what you wanted, just finish it. I could’ve saved myself a lot of time and effort if I’d started with a smaller project, and learning to let go of what I wanted Ebon Light to be is probably the only reason I managed to finish it.

Ebon Light Screenshot
Ebon Light Screenshot

Do you have any future visual novel (or other game dev) plans?

I do, yes! I haven’t written off visual novels completely, but I definitely want to try my hand at other sorts of simple story-centric games. Nothing official yet, though.

Ebon Light

Available now from

More about Ebon Light Underbliss Website, DiscordTwitter or Tumblr.

PlatformWindows, macOS, Linux
Release DateNov 9th 2019
GenreDark Fantasy, Visual Novel, Romance, Drama