Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is another addition to the growing list of Souls-like games. Often these games can have varying levels of quality compared to their source material. However Morbid is a truly excellent action RPG with a varied selection of enemies, areas, items, and bosses. While often it can seem that the game is somewhat minimal compared to its contemporaries, it just absolutely nails the fundamentals that makes it more than the sum of its parts.
Right off the bat, it’s clear that Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is really quite gorgeous. The pixel art look is done in a lot of indie games, but here it is combined with a creative and macabre art design which ensures the visuals absolutely shine. You can’t play for more than five minutes without seeing some absolutely strange, beautiful and bizarre new creation; whether that be the wild world around you or the creature that you are slaying. The bosses especially are always exciting to witness and are all inventively insane.
However it’s not all just good looks – it plays phenomenally well too. It’s the standard lock on, dodge, block, attack fare that any Dark Souls player will feel comfortable with, but it feels damn good to do. Everything is screw-tight and responsive. It’s a bit slower than it comes off from looking at it, however that’s not necessarily a bad thing as everything you do feels totally deliberate. There wasn’t a single time where I felt cheated by Morbid because of finicky controls, and that’s massively important in a challenging experience like this.
These fine controls extend to the wide variety of weapons that you have available to you. There are huge and heavy sluggers, short and quick blades, and many in between. The character is equipped with a main melee weapon and ranged weapon and I was pleasantly surprised with the huge amount of choices for those categories. I was finding new weapons nearly every twenty minutes, and all of them seemed to have unique attack patterns and ranges.
My biggest issue with Morbid though is that throughout the battles and, particularly later on, the range weapons lose their usefulness. There is no viable ranged build and so you will have to get up close with foes eventually no matter how much you improve your ranged abilities.
That is done through blessings which, while being a simple system, does work well. As you explore the world you will find blessings which are essentially buffs or effects to your character, like higher maximum health. You can upgrade these with skill points as you level and there’s a good variety of different blessings scattered throughout the world. Although disappointingly many of those interesting ones only appear near the end game.
Using these skills you will be killing a huge host of enemies and this is where Morbid truly shines. Every location is chock full of challenging and creative adversaries. It does a great job of presenting interesting combat scenarios by constantly reinventing what the enemies can do. At first you’re fighting typical sword slashing mobs, however in a short time you’ll be taking down disappearing skull phantoms and huge screaming cyclops deer. This constant introduction of new threats kept the combat refreshing throughout the whole experience.
Boss encounters keep that same inventive energy as well. There are always new and exciting gimmicks that the bosses would throw at you; consistently difficult and engaging to fight.
The world itself is dark, depressing and imaginative. It’s separated into different areas that differ completely from each other. From industrious cities to gothic gardens, it’s a joy to see where you’ll be taken next.
If only it was that much fun to navigate. The areas are vast and the lack of a map may be one of Morbid’s greatest faults – it is too easy to become completely lost especially after respawning. Some areas are more linear than others but there have been too many times I was left scratching my head wondering how to get back to where I died. It can become incredibly frustrating and it seems a strange design decision that not even a minimap was added. That lack of navigation tools can often work in a 3D environment however it is very hard to pull off in 2D. Morbid completely misses the mark on it.
Morbid: The Seven Acolytes on Xbox is an excellent Souls-like experience and one that any fan of the genre should play. It’s constantly rewarding and delivers a frantic challenge on the whole. There are some hiccups along the way but it’s not enough to bring down this trip into steampunk nightmares.