Developer: Blowfish Studios, Crescent Moon Games, We’re Five Games
Publisher: Crescent Moon Games
Release Date: 20/09/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, iOS
I’m a sucker for inter-planetary exploration in video games, so when I saw Morphite I was instantly intrigued. The promise of exploration, platforming, and FPS elements all appealed to me too, so obviously I simply had to play it. Whilst it delivers on everything I hoped it would though, it does so in a competent manner rather than an exciting one. There’s certainly a lot I enjoyed about Morphite, but I just couldn’t help but to feel a little underwhelmed by the whole thing too.
Morphite puts you in the shoes of Myrah – a young girl who finds herself on journey across the universe to uncover the valuable commodity known as Morphite. After finally discovering some though, she finds there’s a bigger mystery behind it thanks to the fact it seems to have a mind of its own. Bizarre, right? This sends her on an even bigger adventure as she fights off the deadly enemies that pursue her as she looks to discover the secrets of the enigmatic titular entity.
I actually really enjoyed the game’s narrative. When I first started playing I thought it was going to be your typical exploration game with little to no story driving you on along your adventure, but instead each mystery or secret that I uncovered kept me gripped in. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some sci-fi narrative masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but Morphite offered a tale where I genuinely wanted to discover what exactly was going on.
One thing that’s obvious from the get go about Morphite is that there’s a clear No Man’s Sky influence here, though on a much smaller scale. Everything about it feels like it’s lifted from the game but in a bite-size form, be it the traversal between planets, scanning objects, or the procedurally generated elements of the game. If you didn’t enjoy No Man’s Sky, you might want to steer clear of Morphite.
Most of your time in the game is spent scanning the different life forms and objects that are littered across the various planets. The rarer the specimen you’ve uncovered, the better the reward, so you definitely need to scour every nook and cranny of each procedurally generated planet if you’re going to earn the most chunks (that’s the currency in this Universe). Whilst Morphite certainly features an impressive variety of things to discover, the actual process of doing so could become a little menial over time. The scanning process often took a little too long, whilst the sheer variety of things to find meant that you’d have to do it over and over and over again; having to stop and start all the time actually broke up the exploration elements at times. There was certainly a satisfaction to be had when discovering something new, but simply doing it over and over again could feel a bit too mundane over time.
Whilst you’ll be spending a lot of time using your scanner, you’re also armed with weapons that can be used to take down the countless Alien creatures you discover on your journey. The game’s shooting mechanics are incredibly simple in design, but there is a satisfaction to them – they do offer a nice change to the constant scanning you have to do.
You’ll uncover plenty of different weapons as you progress through the game, though admittedly you don’t really need them – despite giving you the opportunity to take on a wide variety of foes and even larger-scaled boss battles, none of them will ever really pose that much of a challenge. Everything about Morphite is pretty easy-going and the combat elements are no different. Still, they’re an appreciated addition given that everything else you do in the game can start to feel like a bit of a formality over time.
Morphite also features some platforming and puzzle solving elements too, but like everything else they feel incredibly simple in design. The simplicity is never a bad thing and I never found myself bored whilst playing the game, but it did show that Morphite doesn’t really do enough to stand out in the crowded genre of exploration titles.
The main story will see you travelling across fifteen different planets, though there are plenty others to see if you decide to do some exploration of your own or take on the wide variety of side quests that are available. The side quests were actually quite the highlight for me – the tasks you’d have to complete would often be utterly bizarre, which is a nice change compared to the normal process of constantly scanning things that Morphite typically has you doing.
Actually travelling between planets requires fuel though, which you get from spending the chunks you earn in-game. How do you get chunks? By scanning objects and exploring planets. You’ll quickly find that there’s a set process in Morphite that consists of exploring a planet, finding enough chunks to progress to the next, then repeating the process. Ok, sure, there are a few story elements dropped in too, but that’s pretty much the game in a nutshell. Still, despite being a repetetive process it never feels too boring, so it at least has that on its side.
Whilst most gameplay elements of Morphite are competent in design, the Space battles that you partake in when travelling between planets were just boring. I got excited when I realised I’d be taking part in some outer Space dogfights, but was quickly left disappointed when I realised that all they consisted of was shooting with no hectic quick-paced manoeuvres to add to the action. They were just lacking in imagination.
At least it’s a well presented game, with Morphite featuring a low-poly aesthetic that despite being simple (not bucking the trend there) actually makes for some great looking locales. There’s a lot of personality to be found in the game’s presentation, with both the planets and the character models all feeling unique in design. There were a few instances where the planets could feel a little vacant (something I put down to the procedural generated elements of the game), but in general Morphite is a very pretty game to look at with each planet always being a treat to explore.
There were a few graphical glitches on show though, with the Alien life forms often breaking the laws of physics by getting stuck in obstacles or continually marching on the spot. Normally I’d let it slide, but one particular planet was so riddled with glitches it’d be a crime not to mention it. I think the occurrence of glitches would vary between players though, so it’s not something that can be held against the game too much.
Whilst I enjoyed playing through Morphite’s mysterious Space adventure, I couldn’t help but to feel a little underwhelmed; the game was never bad, it just never did anything particularly special. I just felt like I was following the same routine over and over again, which could prove tiresome given that the game offers quite a lenghthy experience.
Nevertheless, it offers a decent blend of exploration, combat, and platforming that ensures it’ll certainly keep most gamers entertained. Morphite doesn’t really offer anything special, but that doesn’t mean that fans of inter-planetary Space exploration shouldn’t check it out.