Morbid: The Lords of Ire

More info »

Morbid: The Lords of Ire review
Samuel Corey


Jank Souls

Heavy Metal Dark Souls

It would be easy to dismiss Morbid: The Lords of Ire as just another cut-rate Dark Souls rip-off. After all, it is a 3D, third-person, action RPG, set in a grim dark fantasy world. However, there are some crucial differences in tone between the two games that make Morbid stand out from its more famous progenitor. The atmosphere of Dark Souls is grim and depressing, a world that is slowly dying and being consumed by horrors. A place where all the Gods and heroes of legend have either died or gone insane. What little hope exists is just the possibility of prolonging the world's agony for a little while longer or the prospect of mercifully plunging it into the darkness. It's a depressing and tragic world.

Initially, Morbid: The Lords of Ire seems much darker, as the world is not so much dying a slow death, as actively being murdered. Everywhere you go there are heaps of dead and mutilated bodies, being feasted upon by carrion birds and blood-crazed cannibals. Whatever civilization that once prevailed in these lands has long since collapsed under a relentless assault of cruel monsters and their insane human thralls. However, unlike Dark Souls there is a clear solution to the problem: Just kill the evil acolytes that have corrupted the world and everything should go back to normal. Once you realize this it becomes less a tragic world, and more of a traditional heroic one, albeit it with a good deal more carnage.

Said acolytes are hiding at the end of five grim-dark environments, ranging from a hellish steampunk foundry populated by zombie-robots to a cathedral inside the bowls of the decaying corpse of a massive god. The aesthetics of these levels can be compared favorably to the covers of various heavy metal albums. It's an approach that works well for the game because despite being juvenile and more than a little bit silly, it manages to be rather cool. I suppose this is because of the juvenile design rather than despite it. As the meme says "Everything you thought was cool when you were 12, is what is actually cool."

Tellingly, the only place where the game breaks with this overarching design philosophy is the one area that seems dull and lacklustre: The player character. She is the usual action-girl protagonist for games with a small chest and baggy clothing. This is a game that is crying out for an over-sexualized heroine. The same girl done up in make-up, given a breast augmentation, and plopped into a chain-mail bikini would be far more in keeping with the game's tone and atmosphere. It probably would help with the sales too, as evidenced by the extreme marketability of waifu games as diverse as Genshin Impact and Stellar Blade. I know that a vocal minority has been arguing the opposite for years, but trust me, sex still sells.

Souls-like Pick and Mix

Combat is a grab bag of disparate elements from across the souls-like genre. You have your usual light attack, heavy attack, dodge, block, and parry from the mainline Dark Souls games. Additionally, there's also the poise meter from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice which allows you to deliver a devastating hit on enemies once you have drained their defenses with probing attacks. Lastly, the gun from Bloodborne also makes an appearance, even though it clashes with the quasi-medieval setting (well at least until you get to the level that is just Victorian London with bloodthirsty monsters roaming the streets). You can use the gun to disrupt an enemy's attack and deliver a significant blow to their poise in the process. The downside is that you only get one shot with the pistol and you have to either kill an enemy or use a limited item to recharge it. I quite like this mechanic, as it gives you a trump card that is so limited you need to carefully consider when to use it, a decision that only becomes more important when you are fighting bosses.

Every attack, on every enemy type, baths the area around you in a pool of blood and gore, an effect that is especially striking in the snow-covered mountain fortress level where the game begins. Sure, there are some withered undead enemies that I doubt have this much blood in their bodies, but it is an effect that fits nicely with the game's overall tone.

That said, combat feels a bit floaty and imprecise. The hit-boxes are, at times, utterly absurd, and you will find yourself hit by an attack that is nowhere near your character model. It becomes especially apparent with the grab animations, that occasionally see your character obligingly teleport into the the enemies arms. Of course, the same is true for your attacks vs your enemies, as there are plenty of times I flubbed an attack only to hit the enemy anyway.

What the game's combat lacks in precision, it makes up for in variety. This is not a long game by any estimate, but it is positively brimming with diverse enemy types. Indeed, each new level always boasts at least a handful of unique enemy designs that will be encountered there and only there. A feature that in addition to making each location feel distinct, also keeps combat fresh and engaging throughout a play-through.

Though admittedly, the game's over-reliance on gank arenas, where it locks you in a small room and sics multiple adversaries on you, is frustrating. These always feel less like an exercise in combat skill and more like a test of whether or not you can abuse the enemy's AI to kite them around the arena, occasionally picking off stragglers who get stuck on a piece of geometry. Every level will include at least one of these tedious battles, and there are two especially annoying ones back to back right before the final boss.

Less annoying, but more pointless is the inclusion of a sanity meter that causes you to gradually become delusional as you take damage in combat. In practice, all this means is that the visuals become more murky the worse you're doing in combat, which is of course the time you need the visuals to be as clear as possible. I can't believe a developer looked at Dark Souls' combat and said: "you know what this needs? The dirt and blood that covers the screen every time you get hit in Call of Duty." When at low sanity the game will also spawn in phantasmal versions of enemies that you have killed, but these are significantly weaker than the normal enemies and don't really make an impact.

A Sparse Story

It's not terribly surprising that the story of Morbid: The Lords of Ire is on the sparse side, after all, Dark Souls' story is likewise slim at least in terms of cut-scenes and specific plot developments. However, I think that Morbid may be taking things in an altogether too extreme direction. Seriously, after you deal the death blow to the game's final boss, the screen fades to black and the credits start to roll. Not even a "A Winner is You" screen, just darkness and credits. Sure you can go back to the hub world and listen to the guy with the imposingly deep voice congratulate you, but really after the whole ordeal, I was expecting something a little bit more in the way of a conclusion.

As always, follow Hooked Gamers on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.


fun score


Intriguing and grotesque world, Familiar, but enjoyable combat, Excellent variety of enemies and locations.


Melee combat is floaty at times, The game will crash periodically, Main character should be more sexualized, Sanity meter is pointless and annoying.