Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss…Well Seriously, How Do You Miss The Moon?
Space is truly the final frontier. The empty vastness of the black beyond is enticing for as many people as it is terrifying, which is why video games based on space exploration have almost infinite potential for creativity. This is also why when games of this caliber fail it’s so disappointing. No Man’s Sky will always come to mind in terms of failed space exploration games, for others as well as myself. Ever since then however, countless game titles have attempted to emulate what No Man’s Sky did right while avoiding the pitfalls that ultimately made it a failure. Morphite is one of those games, although vastly scaled down in terms of scope and mechanics.
Morphite touts itself as a relaxing FPS experience, which seems somewhat oxymoronic when you think too much about it. Still, one might suppose it’s appropriate considering enemies, even bosses, are finished easily. Players are far more likely to die due to the strange first person platforming than any enemies in the game. In short, what the game requires more than skill is patience. If you have what it takes, the game is currently on sale. However, I beg you to wait and read what I have to say before taking the plunge. At least at first. Morphite is many things, but a smooth gaming experience it is not. Not yet, anyway.
Kit Kat Paddy Wack
Players will control the character Myrah. Myrah’s parents went missing in her childhood, while searching for a rare element: the titular Morphite. As such, she was raised by Mr. Mason. In her adolescence, Myrah is growing bored. It’s because of this that Mr. Mason decides to send her on a mission. Go to a nearby planet and scan things. Yep. That’s it. Scan things. The good news is that all scans can be sold for money. In this case, Chunks are the main currency. Chunks will be used to purchase ship, armor, and weapon upgrades. This will also serve as a means to pay for fuel and repairs to your ship, something players will be spending a lot of money on, so be sure to scan often on any planet you land on.
Myrah will be joined by the robotic floating feline known as Kit Kat, created by Mr. Mason to assist her in her journeys. Kit Kat will offer instructions as well as jokes, sometimes at Myrah’s expense. This isn’t so bad, but the synthetic nature of Kit Kat’s voice often makes him hard to understand. Subtitles might be necessary for the times when Kit Kat’s dialogue isn’t displayed onscreen.
The More Myrah explores, the more the story will unravel. It’s slow going however, so this is where the patience comes in. Often you’ll be visiting planets for plant essences, shops, or simply to find weapons necessary to unlock the next part of the story. Instructions aren’t always specific, so expect to do some occasional backtracking.
Dropping A Captain’s Log
Morphite does a pretty good job of being a leisurely stroll through the galaxy about seventy percent of the time. The rest of the time though, you’ll be plagued with bugs and frustrating control responses. Couple this with awkward first person platforming and you can have a mouse/controller breaking experience at times. It’s unfortunate given that the game is categorizing itself as relaxing. Sometimes it is. You could shamble around this galaxy for most of the time with little to ail you. But then you’re robbed by space pirates. Or you warp through an asteroid field (or a space station somehow?) and obtain hull damage. Or you kill a monster only to have its vacuum breath somehow linger after death and trap you until you restart the game. Yes, this happened.
Sometimes your objective tracker is slow to update and you go the wrong way on your star map. This might not sound so bad, but you have to refuel after every star system warp. This gets tedious after a while, and means that if the update process is slow you’ve wasted money and fuel going nowhere.
Beyond that, the game can have you going around in circles too. Enemies also re-appear that sometimes shouldn’t, such as the soldiers that harass you near spots Morphite can be found. Having already defeated them once, I found this strange when I had to backtrack after falling from a cliffside. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but it seemed like an odd choice to revive them when I’d already stolen what they were guarding.
Clearly Morphite still has it’s issues despite already being delayed once before. It’s unfortunate and raises questions about how these things were overlooked by QA. Then it makes you wonder if any QA was done at all.
Maximum Bork Drive
Despite all this, the game still has its fun moments. I enjoyed getting the weapon upgrades. Although few allowed for any real combat versatility, some were still fun ideas even if they weren’t all that useful. My favorite example of this was Puggles, pictured above. Granted, poor Puggles is only around to fire off a few rounds here or there. He also has no way of discerning between friendly and aggressive fauna in the area. Then there’s the fact that he doesn’t move to fire around obstacles, which means a lot if his firepower can be wasted on, say, rocks instead of enemies. But hey, he’s cute, right?
I also like the wide variety of critters you can scan and characters that you meet. The voice acting for most of them isn’t great by any means. Yet they add flavor to the world of Morphite that makes it a more colorful experience than other space faring titles. Speaking of color, the color scheme for Morphite is much better than its inspiration title too. I’ve yet to come across a planet with shades of red or green equivalent to that of needles being shoved in one’s eye. Pastel shades abound, making visuals much easier to absorb and much less offensive overall.
I’m Giving Her All She’s Got, Captain
With all that being said, Morphite still needs work. Like, a lot of work. With some more bug fixes and a few updates this could be a very strong game in the series of indie titles with that don’t demand anything from the player. It might even succeed in the walking sim category with some light action. Right now though, with the way Morphite plays, it won’t succeed if these and other problems crop up for players during gameplay. It detracts from the experience, and makes the whole thing feel barely held together.
Morphite is currently on sale, and for only $12 it might not be the worst thing you purchase. Especially if the teams who combined their efforts to build this game get together on some bug fixes soon too. For the moment though, I have to stress that this game needs some major fixer uppers before I can say it’s worthy of a space in anyone’s gaming library.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Switch (Coming Soon); Publisher: Crescent Moon Games ; Developers: Crescent Moon Games, We’re Five Games, Blowfish Studios; Players: 1 ; Released: September 20, 2017 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review copy of Morphite given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.