Just another bug hunt?
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.