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There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and another Soulslike game popping up on your news feed. Sony’s PS5 era may have kicked off with a superb remake of Demon’s Souls, but the granddaddy of the genre has plenty of little bastards to deal with ever since it made a massive deposit at the sperm bank.

Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is one such game which shares a few DNA strands with its primary inspiration, but also another devilish RPG from a bygone era: Diablo. Said genetics definitely hew closer to the FromSoftware side however, as developer Still Running’s retro-flavoured project hits the nail on the head when it comes to thoughtful and precise combat.

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The difference here is that Morbid’s gothic tale  takes place from within a pixelated world that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Sega Megadrive. Whether that particular aesthetic has been done to death is up for debate, but Still Running knows how to make the most of that era of gaming. Every collection of pixels is lovingly organised into a number of shapes, ranging from the depressing landscape to strange NPCs, gruesome creatures who’ll stalk you across the land and I crap thee not a boss who uses her stillborn child as a makeshift fetus mace.

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That’s just one of the seven and disturbing bosses you’ll face, provided that you can survive the journey to meet them in their arenas. Starting off, you’re more helpless than a baby turtle at a seagull convention as your starting weapons don’t inflict that much damage on the horrors surrounding you. There’s that typical HP Lovecraft sauce flavour in the air that you have to navigate through, swinging steel through corrupted graveyards and dank swamps, finding new gear as you progress and equipping it in a manner that will have your MS-DOS nostalgia senses tingling.

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Each weapon of course offers its own pros and cons, allowing you to develop playstyle mileage to suit you. As is typical of the genre, there’s an element of risk and reward with each slash of cold steel you unleash often being met with a grisly reprisal. Of course you can turn those weapons into god-killers! A rune and glyph system allows for upgrades to your overall health, speed, and damage, and you can even leech health back if you’ve got the right loadout.

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Said runes are once-per-use items though, as removing them with a special tool will result in them being destroyed, adding another element of strategy to your character build. Quick-item slots allow you to keep your health, stamina and sanity intact, and exploration further increases those options to stay alive. A serviceable and quirky entry in the genre, perfect for anyone looking for a Soulslike if it were developed in 1996.

Last Updated: December 14, 2020

Morbid: The Seven Acolytes
Morbid follows the Dark Souls formula pretty closely despite it having a retro charm, but the boss fights are an undeniable highlight of the game. Disturbing bouts of danger that will snuff your flame out with a single lucky blow, these encounters boast an incredible art direction, fascinating gameplay quirks, and a challenge that’ll leave your controller moist with hand sweat.
Morbid: The Seven Acolytes was reviewed on PlayStation 5
61 / 100

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