Just an­other bug hunt?

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Martin Kitts

Cat­a­loging a ran­domly gen­er­ated galaxy of pas­telshaded plan­ets filled with bizarre life­forms: It cer­tainly looks and sounds sim­i­lar to No Man’s Sky, but in terms of game­play this is closer to a re­lax­ing take on Metroid Prime.

Bar­ring a cou­ple of de­cid­edly ropey space-based minigames, Mor­phite is played en­tirely from a first-per­son per­spec­tive. Travers­ing the galaxy is sim­ply a mat­ter of pick­ing a star sys­tem from a 2D map, and the ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive is to lo­cate spe­cial crys­tals that grant new abil­i­ties and weapons, re­quired in or­der to un­lock doors and progress a lit­tle bit fur­ther through the game.

Fol­low­ing the story will net you five or six hours of plat­form-puz­zle game­play, but it’s pos­si­ble to head off into the brightly col­ored yon­der at any point to see what the game’s ran­dom planet al­go­rithm will serve up. Star sys­tems gen­er­ally have a space sta­tion where you can re­fuel and two or three land­able worlds where you’ll find all sorts of alien strange­ness, pre­sented in an en­dear­ing low­poly­gon style. Scan­ning the wildlife earns data that can be sold for cash, and you’ll also find min­eral de­posits that can be shot to re­veal var­i­ous re­sources re­quired for up­grades.

Not so smooth

Mor­phite is also avail­able on smart­phones, and its over­all level of pol­ish be­fits some­thing you’d find lurk­ing in an app store. There

“For all its nu­mer­ous flaws, Mor­phite is strangely like­able”

are mi­nor an­noy­ances such as the weapon se­lect sys­tem not work­ing cor­rectly when cer­tain items are equipped, and some­times your drop­ship will fall clean through the ter­rain. In the story mis­sions, walk­ing past cer­tain points will cause events to be trig­gered out of se­quence, lead­ing to some odd bits of di­a­logue, such as your robot cat com­pan­ion warn­ing you to look out for en­e­mies you’ve al­ready killed. More se­ri­ously, key items some­times van­ish from the world or will de­ac­ti­vate as soon as you place them, and the only way around this is to restart the level.

Some bugs are ac­tu­ally kind of help­ful. For ex­am­ple, scan­ning fast an­i­mals that keep run­ning away can be tricky, but you’ll even­tu­ally catch them when they get wedged in the scenery. And while in many games a boss battle can mean a big dif­fi­culty spike, in Mor­phite most of them glitched out im­me­di­ately, al­low­ing an easy vic­tory. The aptly named Junk Beast just stood in a cor­ner, throw­ing rocks at the wall while we shot it in the face. Then there was a fly­ing robot guardian that froze oblig­ingly in midair until we’d fin­ished killing it…

For all its nu­mer­ous flaws, Mor­phite is strangely like­able. Its glitches tend to be more amus­ing than they are frus­trat­ing, and sim­ply am­bling around its shoddy car­toon uni­verse has an ad­dic­tive ‘one more planet’ sort of ap­peal. While the likes of Elite

Dan­ger­ous spend years teas­ing us with the prom­ise of some day be­ing able to ex­plore some­thing that isn’t just a hy­per-re­al­is­tic pot­holed beige rock, Mor­phite serves up a wide va­ri­ety of at­mo­spheric, char­ac­ter­ful mini­worlds. You’ll spend some of your time fall­ing through poly­gons and try­ing to nav­i­gate back to the drop­ship through the damp­ness of a fog cloud that ob­scures the game’s tiny draw dis­tance, but if you can em­brace the cheap­ness you might just get your money’s worth.

Be­low There’s no deny­ing it’s an in­ter­est­ing look­ing game at times.

right De­spite the sim­plic­ity of the un­tex­tured graph­ics, the fram­er­ate fre­quently shud­ders.

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