A soulsike with an isometric view that struggles to capture the player. Let's find out why with the review of Morbid: The Seven Acolytes
The soulslike trend is now one of the most widespread, and most loved, of recent years in the videogame industry. This sub-genre is highly appreciated by both critics and the public and does so with the mechanics that are rooted more and more in this type of production. From Demon's Souls (which many players are rediscovering today on PS5, here our review) to Salt and Sanctuary, up to Morbid: The Seven Acolytes; all games that decline the soulslike in a different way. Let's go then to analyze the latter which, unfortunately, did not fully convince us.
Morbid: The Seven Acolytes combines the typical mechanics of soulslike with the isometric view, so dear to the most experienced players. Undoubtedly a winning idea in our view, especially when you go to resume mechanics that are all too often ignored by other "colleagues" who boast this label (which is now very fashionable). In the case in question the GDR component is set aside: it is limited to the statistics of the weapons and the insertion of passive bonuses through the accumulated experience. The latter is not lost by suffering a defeat, which you might expect from a title of this kind.
So why do we persist in calling Morbid: The Seven Acolydes a soulslike? The reason is in his attempt to return one silent narration. A story able to tell past and present events through the use of the environment and the descriptions present in all the objects. These lay the foundations for the development of a lore that wants to be engaging, also thanks to the fascinating aesthetics of the proposed setting. The goal, however, was only half successful: if the lore set up by the guys from Still Running is interesting, the rest of the narrative is impalpable and it is often difficult to understand what are the motivations that lead the player to perform certain actions.
Let's move on to one of the advantages of the production: the setting. As mentioned above, the game world is compelling in its being so damn Lovecraftian. The references are evident, but at the same time Morbid: The Seven Acolydes manages to develop its own aesthetic identity. A plague has corrupted the world, now in ruins, and all the creatures that populate it. Every ravine exudes horror through his pixel art, while the landscapes, without a shred of life anymore, return only death and desolation.
Where the player enjoys admiring the map, the same cannot be said of navigating within it. The level design is rather confusing and it will happen several times not only not to know where to go, but also not to be able to distinguish one way from another. Individual areas show little variation, challenging even players with a great sense of direction. The conformation of the map fails to provide the indication, which becomes necessary when there is no more explicit one.
We continue the review of Morbid: The Seven Acolytes with what disappointed us the most about the game. The protagonist has a light attack, a heavy one and a dodge at his disposal, as well as a ranged attack with a firearm. The woodiness of the controls heavily influences the success of the combat system, which immediately appears frustrating and difficult to manage. The windows left by the opponents are short and the slowness of the protagonist excessive. Each animation has too long a recovery time, unless you make a dodge. Consequently, the heavy attack is much more useful than the light one and all fights, from common enemies to bosses, are reduced to a tedious hit and run, with the further precaution to be done regarding the consumption of stamina.
Difficult does not mean complex: Still Running's soulslike is artificially difficult, despite having a basically basic gameplay. Bosses have few attacks at their disposal and are often difficult to read. All these factors add up and make the fighting, which should be the highlight of the adventure, tediosi.
Everything else is unexpectedly gaunt. If the lore of the game is meticulously told, the same cannot be said of the side quests. These are given through one or two lines of dialogue and marked in a menu that does nothing to help us understand what is going on. The same menus are difficult to use, far too cumbersome both in organization and in clarity. To give an example, the number of runes to be applied to the weapons overlap the sprite of the same and it is not possible to understand how many upgrades are available.
The soundtrack is practically absent, limited for most of the time to a background melody which, however dark and diegetic to the atmosphere, soon becomes cloying. A few more foresight would have helped to increase the stimuli to continue the game.
Being able to develop a quality soulslike it is not an easy feat. The impression one gets by playing Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is that the developers have tried to revive a title in which to feel lost, only to discover slowly what is happening. However, the simple removal of indications and plot is not enough if it is not accompanied by a level design capable of silently guiding the player during gameplay.
Such a shame, considering that the underlying idea is potentially interesting and the general atmosphere, like the lore, are well constructed. The Providence writer will be proud of the work done on the setting, but a game of this type also needs, and above all, a level of gameplay. To bury the final judgment we think a combat system badly calibrated in the timing of the animations and woody in the commands that make everything frustrating. We recommend the game only to fans of the genre, ready to postpone a series of slips that do not allow them to reach the sufficiency.
Our review of Morbid: The Seven Acolytes ends here. The game is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, with English-only lyrics. We invite you to follow us on the techigames pages to stay up to date on all the news from the world of video games and more!5 Far too mysterious
- Fascinating setting
- Well built lore
- Woody commands
- Unbalanced combat system
- Often you have no idea what you are doing
- Draft menus