Curse of the Dead Gods is a game that ushers you in slowly. With its savage difficulty and intense design, Passtech Games’ roguelite guides you through the door with a wink and a nudge before slamming it shut behind you. Playing as a greedy treasure hunter trapped in a deadly temple, Curse of the Dead Gods is a game all about greed.
Trapped in an endless life or death cycle, your nameless protagonist must contend with a series of increasingly daunting dungeons in hopes of escaping from his curse. The tiered boss system wisely locks Curse of the Dead Gods’ more severe challenges behind gates, helping players not to get too overwhelmed as they endlessly explore a branching path. Each room is filled with vicious traps and a legion of enemies, all vying for your blood.
Naturally, players are helped along by unlockable weapons, blessings, altars, and favors that can be purchased and upgraded to help you get an edge, sometimes even from the beginning. This is key because if you can maintain solid starting equipment from the jump, you can have it upgraded substantially by the time you reach the end of a dungeon set.
Before players can even attempt the endgame, they’ll need to have an absolute mastery of not just the traps and enemies of each of the three dungeon types but also several weapons and sub-weapons.
All of this is without mentioning a complex corruption system that can be your undoing in a single moment of blind greed. You see, Curse of the Dead Gods features a corruption system that can increase in several different ways. Each time your corruption meter fills up, you’ll find yourself cursed. Curses can range from a simple handicap like exploding enemies to a serious game-changer like losing a point from your stamina meter or going to a hazy black and white each time your character is damaged. Measuring when a curse will be inflicted and how far you are from the next boss fight (successful boss fights allow you to remove a curse) will help you game the system behind Curse of the Dead Gods. Before you know it, you’ll have several different vital strategies to aid you in working your way to subsequent victories.
While it passively goes up as players move from room to room, certain enemies and bosses can also fill it up with their corruption attacks. Further, you will find yourself tempted by weapons, stat bonuses, and upgrades you can’t afford — not without shedding a little blood, that is.
Yes, these naturally cost you some corruption along the way as well. However, the system isn’t as cruel as it sounds. On the contrary, the more you play it, the more you’ll find yourself doing quick math in your head to hopefully produce the optimal results. You’ll be adding up corruption and stat bonuses while figuring the odds of getting a genuinely awful curse in no time.
Though the space between these victories may increase substantially as you progress through the Curse of the Dead Gods, every loss brings you one step closer to facing the final challenges and escaping the temple at last. Like other uber-hard games, such as Sekiro or Furi, Passtech’s roguelite forces you to earn every single win, making the taste of success all the more palpable when you finally come out on top. Because any mistake can derail your hard-earned progress, you become more clever and careful with each subsequent run. However, forgoing rewards like new weapons and relics can help you heal just enough to bring you back from the brink of death, so the game never feels totally hopeless.
Culminating in a penultimate challenge that sees you facing the three most demanding bosses in the game and a remixed, randomized dungeon that combines each level’s elements, Curse of the Dead Gods’ tiered pyramid is an evolving boon that keeps the player grounded with each further extension. Because you’ve been forced to challenge its enemies, traps, and bosses, again and again, to achieve victory, even the nastiest of them become second nature by the time you find yourself aiming for the top of the pyramid.
Further, supposing you game the system correctly, you can find yourself achieving massive DPS against even the most titanic of bosses in a way that is unimaginable when you first start playing. Mixing status effects like fire and poison and balancing your arsenal between ranged and melee weapons are some of the biggest keys to mastering Curse of the Dead Gods.
Still, every player will find their own unique set of strategies to help them along, and that’s what makes the experience so captivating. There’s truly no wrong way to play Curse of the Dead Gods, and the extent of your imagination only holds back the strategies you can implement. The game includes countless weapons and tactics, but all of them are viable once you master the core mechanics. It’s like a casino from hell. Sure, you’ll be going home with minimal prizes for your trouble a dozen times, but when you finally do cash in, it’ll be a win worth savoring.
Think of Curse of the Dead Gods as Hades on steroids. With bosses that deliberately fake you out, heal while you’re recovering your stamina, or turn the arena into a mess of traps and projectiles, this roguelite will push you to your absolute limit, and you’ll love every punishing second of it. Since previously mastered dungeons must be re-explored and more handily bested before you can reach new bosses and enemies, the game absolutely forces you to master what has come before to achieve its more extreme challenges.
Truly a one of a kind game and an early dark horse contender for game of the year, Curse of the Dead Gods is one of the most exciting roguelites in years. If you love games that kick your ass over and over until you master them thoroughly, Curse of the Dead Gods ought to be your next purchase. You can thank (and curse) us later.
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