Mortal Glory is a strategy roguelike available on Steam. Joseph Pugh conducted this review.
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Mortal Glory is a turn-based game about gladiatorial combat. The graphics are simplistic but graceful with old-school charm. You recruit, upgrade, and outfit a group of gladiators to battle within the fiendish arena. It’s like Pokemon with people!
Each stage of the arena is played in a set of rounds, you can lose one fight per stage. Lose twice and it’s game over. You are rewarded with gold, new recruits, and gear for winning. You can use this blood money to outfit and customize your fighters between fights.
The battles are fought in brutal turn-based combat where positioning and skill usage matters every bit as much as your fighters’ statistics. Underestimating the environment can cost you, as many attacks and spells can send gladiators smashing into walls for extra damage.
You will not only contend with other fighters but the unreasonable demands and desires of the fiendish emperor overseeing the fight. Your own greed can also become an enemy when you make tough choices in random events that could aid you, or blow up in your face.
You start with a small sum of gold to recruit your first gladiators. The selection is always randomized but stronger recruits are more expensive. Choosing one initial strong warrior or multiple weaker ones are both valid options. You will need to expand your roster as you play either way.
Every gladiator has semi-randomized statistics, a race, and a trait that all help determine their capabilities. A Minotaur for example always starts with a charge ability. While a vampire can always siphon life away from a foe.
Once the fight starts, you and your foe take turns until one side is completely knocked out or 20 turns pass. If you time out, the emperor punishes you for such a pathetic show. Gladiators can move a number of spaces equal to their action points. Those are determined by their agility stat.
Making a melee attack against a gladiator is as easy as moving into them. But most fighters have abilities that can be activated, and you can teach them new ones.
These abilities can range from spells that buff allies or debuff enemies to lightning bolts, thrown weapons, charge attacks, and more. They usually cost MP to use but play a key role in the game’s battle tactics. Fights always take place in an arena, but the layout is random. Shoving gladiators into walls or each other inflicts extra collision damage and is a valid tactic.
Playing Mortal Glory is incredibly straightforward. It is exceptionally simple to control. You simply click in the direction you want your fighter to move and click on ability if you want to use it. All of the statistics are explained with hovering tool-tips and you always are aware of what your abilities do.
The interface is very clean and intuitive. This enhances its strategic value a great deal, as knowing your enemy’s capabilities is one of the most important tools you have. Not only can you view the abilities they possess, but their statistics as well. If an enemy deals 13 physical damage, but your front-line troll has 17 armor. You know that enemy will have trouble damaging your troll physically.
On the flip side, to be the most effective, you have to do a lot of number tracking nce. A miscalculation of a given fighter’s combat numbers can mean a quick death if you don’t account for it.
Mortal Glory features difficulty settings but is harsh by design. Losing two fights in a stage is a game over, you will have to start from scratch. If you make it all the way to the final round, you fight a powerful team including one super buffed champion denoted as a beast. Lose here, and it’s all over.
Anytime one of your gladiators gets knocked out, they take injuries based on the severity of the attack. Each injury reduces their maximum health by 10% and if they ever have 10 injuries, they die. Fighters heal one injury after each round that they don’t obtain a new one, but it is a slow process and there are a finite number of rounds per game.
Gladiators that survive fights get stronger and it quickly becomes a tough choice between risking a strong but injured fighter or benching them until they heal.
Even though it is brutal, Mortal Glory is easy to pick up and play. Getting into the action is quick and simple and each run only lasts around an hour, yet it is very re-playable. As frustrating as many of my losses were, the question always lingered. Are you not entertained? The answer is yes, yes I was.
After a fight, you choose a reward (if you won) and then encounter a random event that usually presents you with a risk versus reward choice. The rewards are usually great, but you risk your gold and the health of your gladiators with most choices. Then you can buy weapons, armor, and skills for your fighters. You explicitly choose how to outfit them.
Each piece of gear enhances the unit’s stats and rare pieces can grant new abilities. You can also buy spell books to teach them sweet new moves. Each gladiator can have four a time.
As they win fights they will improve some stats but can also gain titles that impart new traits that affect them more drastically. Each facet of the game affects the tactical depth. Even something as simple as your roster layout matters. On your turn, the gladiator on the left is always the first to act, followed by the second, third then fourth.
This actually matters a great deal when you have tougher units that can’t move very far each turn. Or if you have a heavy-hitting front-line that needs to land that first hit quickly.
The shop is randomized. If there is nothing you want to buy you can instead spend your gold on new recruits or train specific statistics of your fighters directly. Another big factor is the emperors’ Demands and Desires.
Some fights can have one or both. They are specific objectives that can range from only knocking out enemies via melee attacks, to not moving more than one space per turn. Desires are optional but grant you extra gold after the fight. Demands, however, will incur the wrath of the emperor if you fail to meet them, injuring all your gladiators.
If you manage to win a few runs, you unlock additional goodies. This includes a higher difficulty setting, optional challenges that can increase your high score, and an endless mode.
Mortal Glory is a compact game that is quick and easy to pick up but also has exceptional depth contained within. Its turn-based combat plays at a relatively quick pace but leaves plenty of strategic choices to make and the controls and interface are very user-friendly.
Mortal Glory has plenty of replay value, especially once you unlock the challenges and endless mode. The limited number of events does get repetitive but they are a very small part of the overall package.
It’s harsh but never truly feels unfair. You can feel the weight of your choices several rounds after you made them. The simplistic graphical style may turn some people off, but it does a fine job of presenting the action alongside a text-based tracker that logs every fight in real-time.
It’s a perfect game to play when you don’t have a lot of game time but still want something with meat on its bones. Its gladiator theme and roguelike gameplay are executed with such grace that even Caesar would have to give Mortal Glory a thumbs up. At such a cheap asking price, maybe even two!
A copy of Mortal Glory was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by RedBeak Games via indieboost.com.
Check out my review of the expansion of Mortal Glory, Fresh Blood.
- Deep tactical gameplay
- User-friendly controls and interface
- High replay value
- Easy to pick up and play, hard to master
- Difficulty settings present
- A large number of skills and abilities
- Random events become predictable and repetitive relatively quickly
- There can be a lot of number tracking to be the most effective