☆ Review: Morphite "To boldly go where no woman has gone before" ☆ #IndieGame #GameDev

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Morphite - Nintendo Switch

Morphite is a Casual Atmospheric FPS video game that has been released on iOS, PS4 and has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch. Whilst graphically the game may draw comparisons to No Man’s Sky, Morphite is driven more through its narrative and works out all the better for it.

Having been in development for some time, a lot of pressure seems to have been placed on Morphite, especially after the debacle that greeted No Man’s Sky upon release. I actually hadn’t been aware of the game until being sent it for review and so I had no preconceptions about its abilities.

In Morphite you take control of Myrah Kale, a young woman who has no real memories of her family and spends her time on a space station with Mr. Mason, a fatherly figure who has taught her how to defend herself with her trusty plasma pistol and at the start of the game is sending her away on her first expeditions to scan the (relatively) local flora and fauna along with her robotic-feline sidekick ‘Kitcat’. The game is titled after a mysterious mineral called ‘Morphite’ which is believed to be extinct at the start of the game but is quickly re-discovered by our intrepid explorer and this kick-starts a series of events that make up the bulk of the game's story.

The game has a quite striking ‘low-polygon’ graphical style that evoked a 6th generational feel, this adds to the alien feel of the planets that you will discover, the controls in the game also feel very natural and intuitive which is important due to the first-person puzzle-platforming sections.

Morphite is mainly a first-person game of exploration, the main story takes places as you move from planet to planet searching for the next item, upgrade or person to move you forward on your inter-galactic quest, as you travel between planets there are occasionally mini-games that crop up to add variation such as navigating your ship through an asteroid belt or shooting down some raiders that are attacking you in a section reminiscent of the early Star Wars games. 

The in-game currency is called ‘chunks’ and these (along with the various minerals that need to be collected for trade or upgrades to your suit/ship) are collected by travelling around the planets. Minerals can be found in translucent mineral deposits and animals and plants can be scanned and sold, the amount of money each is worth is determined by order of rarity. These plants and animals when scanned and thus ‘collected’ can also have other properties such as heat or cold resistance which can allow you to visit other planets previously closed off to you due to their uninhabitable temperatures.

Morphite is quite a casual sandbox game, when I began playing I was initially slightly put off but the apparent simplicity of everything, each character’s dialogue is light-hearted and the game had quite a gentle vibe to it, but after playing for a while I warmed to its mood and realised that this isn’t about hard-core space-exploration where death lurks at every moment but instead was more of a saunter through space accompanied by a relaxing ambient/synth musical score. 

As most of the planets beyond the ones required as part of the main quest are procedurally generated, the usual issues apply, in that scanning every tree and animal you come across can get repetitive, especially as they all have different levels but look the same. For example, all the trees on one planet may be identical, but they could be injured, weak, strong, rare, sickly etc. and so I found myself only scanning and going off-road occasionally and instead focusing on the main quest and whichever side-quests I stumbled across on my way, I found this to be more suited to my style of playing.

The side quests in the game are in the casual vein, they are mostly small, brief sojourns such as feeding aliens marshmallows, running a race, playing darts etc. These are nice distractions but aren’t really lengthy extra quests that you can tuck into, more mini-games in essence. The path of the main quest was the real draw for me.
As enjoyable as the game is, (and I really did enjoy working on the main quest and story of Morphite) there are some flaws. 

Aside from the previously mentioned repetitiveness of the procedurally-generated planets, the AI in the game is quite weak. Enemies just head towards you and skittish animals run away, occasionally in circles, making them difficult to scan (with the exceptions of the boss fights which, whilst a nice change aren’t too difficult in keeping with the casual nature of the game).  

There is some clashing of scenery which is to be expected in a game this size but a more pressing issue for me was how I was able to access areas of the game that I wasn’t supposed to. For example, at one point I was exploring an underground temple and I made a jump into a section of the map that had a large statue, I turned on a switch, explored, took all of the ammo crates nearby and wandered off, thinking it would open something else nearby but later on I returned to the area which had now changed and it became clear that I shouldn’t have been able to make the jump previously as now the room was reset and when I again activated the switch, it led to a boss fight. This only happened once or twice but in a game where there is minimal text present and everything is distinguished visually, I would have preferred that these sections were doored off completely until they were supposed to be accessed to remove confusion when exploring, as the main quest is relatively linear.

SummaryI have really enjoyed my time with Morphite and will occasionally return to it to maybe unlock all the extra suit parts and find all the trinkets but the main story was where the appeal was held for me, the relative sparseness of the procedurally-generated planets could have used more fleshing out as beyond scanning and collecting, there’s no ultimate goal in the game or reason to continue exploring for dozens of hours, beyond whether you simply enjoy it or not.  

The game is designed to be enjoyed in a light-hearted manner, the only times I died were during boss battles before I worked out which weapons worked best but the game auto-saves regularly so back-tracking is never an issue and you can always return to your ship to buy ammo etc. before you re-try. 

In playing Morphite,  there was a real pleasant retro sense of being very ‘GameCube-esque’ that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I think it was to do with a mixture of the graphics (reminded me of Metroid Prime)and the family-friendly universe that had a very ‘Nintendo’ feel to it. 

Morphite is a great little game to play on the move (I did play on a big screen but it felt more suited to a handheld) and I recommend it for its charm and the engaging story mode. 

The other more exploratory side to the game I felt could have been fleshed out more as it does sadly feel a little sparse and tacked-on.

Right, I’m off to the plunder the planet Schattenjager with Puggles, my laser-wielding robot-dog.

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)

MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Nintendo eShop
Dev Link: BlowFish Studios

Review By Britt

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