Larva Mortus Review

Larva Mortus PC windows box art

Addicting and fast paced 2D top-down perspective monster blasting.

Story

At the end of the 19th century, an ancient relic was unearthed by a team of explorers. According to legend the relic was cursed and the adventurers who dug it up saw its horrid effects first hand. Undead creatures began haunting them wherever they went, so they decided to smash the relic into pieces and scatter it across the globe – but the curse would not die out.

Now a brave agent experienced in exorcisms and monster hunting takes on the case and as zombie heads start rolling, a vile plot is about to be exposed.

The Game

Larva Mortus is a 2D top-down arcade-action horror game. You play as the mysterious man who specializes in dealing with supernatural entities and creatures – in other words killing zombies, ghouls and all sorts of unearthly monsters. The game is very gory, fast paced and has an eerie atmosphere.

The basic goal is to complete all main story missions. Apart from the main story missions there is an endless amount of randomized side quests that you can complete to gather items and develop your character. Although the game has various types of missions they all involve mindless monster killing. As such the game has a refreshing, straightforward and in-your-face design.

Larva Mortus ScreenshotYour character has a weapon inventory and some statistics. Killing monsters will give you experience points, and experience points will raise your level. Each time you advance in level, you are given a skill point that you can allocate on your different statistics; for example you could raise your constitution which increases your health, or you could increase your move speed. Some statistics are obviously more important than others; for example you would probably want to boost regeneration rather than your luck stat. Regeneration will make your character regain health faster while luck will make monsters drop bonus items more often. Weapons and ammunition is never hard to come by in this game and regeneration (when raised) will bring your wounded character back to normal in just a few seconds.

This game is based on a room-by-room design. Sometimes you can’t leave a room before you have killed all monsters in it, and monsters from one room can’t follow you to another room.

Each room tends to have randomly placed barrels and crates that you can destroy and loot for helpful items such as weapons, health packs and bonus points. Because of this you’ll probably end up spending lots of time bashing barrels and crates.

Controls

The main character in Larva Mortus is controlled with a standard W, A, S, D – key setup. You control the crosshair with the mouse, allowing you to freely aim in whatever direction you want. You can select weapons with either the number keys on the keyboard or with the mouse wheel.

The controls are pretty much unfailing and you’re practically given freedom of movement with no strings attached. Overall great controls and fun to play.

Content

When you start the game you are presented with a world map. On that map you’ll see various missions and where they take place in relation to one another. The main story missions are marked with a blue color and optional side quests are marked with yellow. Futhermore, the side quests are completely randomly generated. There are some different types of side quests that you can engage in; destroy a boss monster, save civilians, eliminate all monsters or destroy the cursed seals.

As stated above, the purpose of doing side quests is mainly to gather weapons and ammunition and to build up your character with experience points and levels. You could ignore the side quests altogether, but then there’s a risk that your character isn’t powerful enough to withstand the challenges of the main missions.

There are around 30 different monsters to battle in this game. You’ll fight giant spiders, fire imps, specters, zombies, werewolves and giant bats among others. They all have their special attacks and attributes, but mostly they’re just magnetically attracted to you, following you around until you dispatch them. What monsters you encounter are randomly spawned but based on your own level. This means that you’ll keep encountering new monsters as you progress through the character levels.

Even the main story missions has randomly spawned monsters, so even if you retry the same mission multiple times it will play differently, sometimes making it harder, sometimes easier.

From the world map you’ll also be able to access your collection of trophies and weapons. These screens have little function in the game other than to help you keep track of what trophies you have collected. Trophies generally have no other function than to increase your total score.

There are nine different weapons in the game. Some examples are; two-handed sword, shotgun, minigun, flame thrower and rocket launcher. You’ll learn to utilize the different weapons according to what monsters you are fighting, but generally it’s really a no-brainer.

The game also has a few temporary bonuses such as invincibility armor, extra damage and berserker power. These bonuses are found dropped from monsters or by destroying crates, barrels and chests, and the bonuses they provide are very brief but when utilized correctly they’re very helpful.

The difficulty of the game can be set to three different levels – the harder the difficulty, the stronger the enemies. On the hard setting the levels tend to be more complex both in size and how keys and locked doors are placed. You can change the difficulty level between missions if you want.

Each side quest has a skull rating which is supposed to indicate how difficult that individual mission is. But the difference between one and max skulls is subtle at best. Rather, the real difficulty is dependent on what monsters you encounter and seeing that monsters spawn randomly, the difficulty of this game is very uneven. To make things worse, most monsters can be deadly if you are unlucky or reckless, or even make a few mistakes in succession. Also the game becomes increasingly more difficult the further you progress in levels.

When you die, you are simply taken back to the world map. If you died on a side quest, you’ll see that side quest removed from the world map so that you can’t retry it. Instead, you’ll find other quests to play instead. If you died on a main story mission however, you can simply retry it normally. There is no direct penalty for dying in this game other than that your progress on that mission is lost. Most missions can be completed in a few minutes so this is never really a setback. That’s good because your death is seldom your own fault. Monsters (especially the werewolves and specters) tend to “get stuck” on you and deal hideous amounts of damage in a matter of seconds. Other monsters may decide to let loose all their projectile attacks at one time and if you are caught in that fire, you’ll probably die. It wouldn’t be fair to punish a player for AI mishaps like these.

The game allows you to save under different profiles, so you can easily share the game locally with friends and family and compare scores. But that’s about as far as this game is socially interactive – there are no multiplayer options.

Thanks to its random nature and straight-forward ever-challenging design Larva Mortus manages to be somewhat addicting and hard to put down. The main story isn’t very long as it only consists of thirteen missions, but the game does continue after that prompting you to keep playing side quest missions ad infinitum. While this may not feel overly motivating it does provide a quick action-fix with a high replay value that’s easy to come back to.

There is one prominent bug in the game. It seems that sometimes when you intend to throw a dynamite, your character ends up throwing multiple dynamites at the same time. This wouldn’t be a problem if the dynamites weren’t so rare (compared to the to other weapons anyway!) and it also happens to be so that the dynamites are perhaps the best weapons in the game – nothing that you would want to waste by throwing them all at one time.

Graphics

The graphics are very standard 2D graphics. Larva Mortus doesn’t even try to have impressing graphics, but instead relies on simplicity and there is a certain charm to that. There are some nice lighting effects such as flash lights and there is some clever sprite usage that make for some cool and surprising visual effects.

Most of the animation isn’t very good but it’s tolerable and shouldn’t annoy anyone too much. In general the game uses appropriate color schemes, and manages to maintain a creepy atmosphere through the whole game.

The cutscenes are comprised of hand drawn comic-book style images. It really looks great and easily sparks the imagination.
The options screen will allow you to turn the gore on or off – but more importantly there is no support for playing on a wide-screen resolution. That would have been epic.

Sound

The musical score in Larva Mortus resembles the soundtrack from a horror movie. It’s very well made and certainly uplifts the game and adds up to the overall experience. The intro song really is haunting and sets the mood for the entire game.

The sound effects are also good and won’t grow old in a while. Hearing zombies groan and monsters cry in pain as the minigun tirelessly blasts away is a neat treat that is sure to excite any hobby exorcist. The explosions are loud and you’ll also be haunted by spooky whisperings and insane laughter.

Summary

Larva Mortus is a nice little game with brilliant music and addicting gameplay. It’s difficulty level is a very bumpy ride, but it’s an exciting ride. Killing undead monsters is a basic component in horror- movie and game culture and this game proudly proves how much fun it can be.

This is a game that you can play to kill off a few minutes here and there. It won’t keep you entertained for long periods of time but in short bursts it is golden.

Developed By: Rake In Grass
Published By: Meridian4
Version Reviewed: Windows PC
Genre: Maze, Shoot ’em Up
Players: 1
Released: 2009

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