Curse of the Dead Gods Review- Fun Times in the Temples of Doom

Posted March 11, 2021 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Passtech Games

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Release date: February 23, 2021

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

Roguelikes, games which send you back to the beginning after death but still have forms of progression, have seen a spike in recent years. Games like Dead Cells and Hades have proven to be a hit with both gamers and critics, as both contain challenging gameplay yet also continuously reward players after death to spur them on to try another run. Passtech Games throws its hat into that mix with their new game Curse of the Dead Gods. The game takes influences from both aforementioned titles, along with the art style of Darkest Dungeon, and adds its own twist in the form of curses.

These curses add a new wrinkle of strategy to your runs. While Curse lacks the story and characters of Hades, it does unlock lore in a similar vein. Also, players can choose their path forward across each of the three temples’ levels, which contain nine rooms . Each level involves defeating a champion (the number increases on the second and third levels) in an attempt to reach the top where you engage a formidable boss. Thankfully, the game doesn’t make you redo each level. Once you unlock the next level, you start there for each run. It can take a lot of hours to defat the champions and open levels up, but each run gives you the ability to unlock new weapons and gain divine favors that allow you to refresh any shrine’s content.

The game uses skulls, jade rings, and firestones as its currency to unlock weapons, gain extra divine favors, and unlock extra altars. Like Dead Cells, each new run begins with randomly chosen weapons. At first you’ll only get a main and a secondary weapon to choose from. Later you can add a third weapon that can pack a powerful punch. Weapons run the gamut from throwing knives to pistols to large two handed hammers. Weapons can be upgraded through shrines to cause elemental damage like fire, poison, and lightning, or to replenish health with each kill. Like Souls games, your stamina bar is highly important. Deplete it, and your ability to both attack and evade is reduced, leaving you vulnerable. It replenishes fairly quickly, but if you’re swarmed by enemies your run can end relatively quickly.

Shrines not only provide weapon upgrades, but can grant boons and increase health or the amount of damage you can inflict. Gold can be used to purchase any upgrades if you have enough. Otherwise, the shrines call for blood, which can take away from your health or increase your corruption meter. Your corruption meter is highly important to keep an eye on. Going through doors between rooms increase the level of corruption, as does damage from certain enemies. Once your corruption meter fills up, you become cursed.

You can end up carrying up to five curses during a run. Some aren’t so bad, like those that increase the blast radius of explosive barrels or automatically set off flamethrowers. Others are more problematic, like ones that hide enemies until light hits them or slowly increases your corruption meter. Getting the fifth curse is to be avoided, though it can’t always be helped. The fifth and final curse is all but a death sentence unless you are highly skilled at combat and evasion as it reduces your health down to one. While never a good time to get this, it’s especially disheartening when the next chamber contains a champion to face.

The curses add an interesting layer of strategy, making your choices carry more weight. Enemies can drop weapons or boons when you defeat them, and then you need to choose. Do you keep the weapon or boon to strengthen yourself, or do you offer it to the gods, which can also reward you with an increase in health or a reduction in your corruption meter. Only defeating champions allows you to remove a curse. Keep in mind too hat even at healing shrines, your corruption increases. While replenishing a great deal of health is beneficial, having to do so will also fill your corruption meter. It’s a Catch-22, and it makes you take a more thoughtful approach to enemies rather than just charging in and hacking and slashing. The curse meter adds a level of tension to your runs, and makes you weigh every decision as to whether to keep a dropped item or offer it to the gods and gain their favor.

In all, Curse of the Dead Gods adds its own wrinkle to the roguelike genre. Gameplay loops are addicting, and the curses add a nice level of strategy to the proceedings. While it may fall short of the excellence of Dead Cells and Hades, the game is well worth the time for fans of roguelikes. Unlocking new weapons and altars give a nice sense of progression, and defeating the champions is always satisfying. The stamina meter will force you to be mindful of your approach to combat, and the choices you make at shrines, whether to pick up dropped items, and even which path you choose all can have weight. It’s a great new title that adds to a growing genre, and roguelike fans can certainly find hours of fun in plundering these temples of doom.

9/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus