Morphite is a solid space adventure game with great moments.
I love games that involve space and sci-fi themes, from Lifeless Planet, Planet Explorers and Starbound to The Signal from Tolva. Space has infinite possibilities and is ripe for good storytelling. When it comes to Morphite, it hits all the benchmarks for what you would want in a first-person space exploration game. You have aliens, weird planets, guns, weird cat robots, guns, a decent story and mini-games!
People are quick to compare this title with No Man’s Sky and that wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Morphite does share similar themes: exploration; scanning alien organisms; upgrading your equipment; and the perils of space. What makes Morphite distinct from the others is its unique Tron-like polygonal aesthetics and higher focus on its story.
Morphite is kind of like the ‘diet’ version of No Man’s Sky. It also happens to share some of the same weaknesses and strengths. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy Morphite and it is a good game that I can recommend to lovers of space exploration. On the other hand, it failed to hook me and keep me in. I found myself burnt out very quickly after exploring a few random planets. This happened to me when I played No Man’s Sky as well. The vastness of the universe is grand, but bland.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
Scanning, shooting and scanning some more!
Morphite is a first-person causal exploration game. You play Myrah Kale (eww, kale), a young and eager explorer who is bored of living on a space station. To quote Yoda, ‘Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things’. However, Myrah really does and after being approved for a routine scanning mission, she ends up on a whirlwind adventure. Morphite is named after a mystical element that you discover on one of your missions and it has some sort of profound connection with Myrah.
The gameplay mainly consists of you walking around in first-person, scanning everything and its mother. Scanning, you see, is how you find methods to upgrade your suit to tolerate harsher environments and give yourself an edge. It also happens to be a good way to make money. Scanning becomes extremely pivotal as you progress in the game — the story ups its difficulty rather quickly and if you don’t take time to upgrade your suit, you’re dead. When you’re not scanning you may be exploring ruins with platforming or killing aliens.
Combat is a hit and miss. Why? Well, ammo is rare and more often than not I found myself waiting for my gun to regenerate the five bullets that it innately gives you. You can call in your drop pod and get a free amount of bullets equal to twenty but it doesn’t last long and boss battles can be a pain. It’s one of those things that made me scratch my head about Morphite. It seemed unnecessary and combat sometimes felt like a chore. From what I understand, this is alleviated later on in the game, but I couldn’t find myself investing the time required.
You could tell the focus wasn’t meant to be on combat as there is literally an auto-lock that points the gun for you if the enemy is close enough. Not that I minded the auto-lock system, as it helps with enemies that are much faster then you. The bosses are fairly easy and nothing ever presented itself as much of a challenge — I just needed enough bullets to do the job. When you’re not on the ground, you’re in space and doing space things. You can trade with space stations, explore space stations for side quests, and occasionally have a mini-game where you avoid asteroids or space combat.
These mini-games are cute and really do help break up the pace of the game. They aren’t super difficult, but I found them to be rather enjoyable, and there are plenty of other things to sink your teeth into deeper in the game: rocket launchers; robot companions; and even grappling hooks. The problem I found is that I had a hard time connecting with the game.
Morphite feels like one game divided into two parts.
Now I know that sounds confusing, so let me break it down for you. One part of the game is focused on the story. This area is by far its greatest highlight, with voice acting, puzzles, great level design and some very imaginative uses of the game’s graphics. This is what is going to make Morphite worth it to people. I wanted and craved this part, but it’s given to you in bread crumbs, piece by piece. I can definitely understand wanting to give a player bang for their buck but the other side of the game just wasn’t as polished I would have hoped.
Speaking of the other side: this side is the randomly generated stuff that completely falls flat — at least for me it did. You have no choice but to explore these randomly generated planets for resources and scanning upgrades otherwise you will have a hard time progressing. The planets didn’t have the same level of detailed design and often felt hollow and empty. You spend a vast majority of time waiting for a scan bar to fill up so you can move on to the next thing to scan or shoot.
Morphite looks great in all regards but its randomly generated planets are going to vary. One planet may be impressive, the next flat and colorless. This is what led me to end my journey before I got deeper into the game. I wish I could have focused more on the story and what the developer took time to design personally rather that what an algorithm made for me.
The look and feel of Morphite is well done.
Morphite looks and sounds great. I have to say that I was quite impressed with how effective the overall aesthetic was. Myrah has no eyes, but that didn’t stop me from understanding how she felt and that is due to the voice acting, which gets the job more then done. Myrah in particular was very well voiced and Kitcat, your robotic sidekick, does his fair share as well. Everything has this great neon glow to it that captures your attention. The natural landscape looks fine, but can come off as repetitive after a while.
The music itself has a great sci-fi ring to it and the tracks are varied and mix things up. There wasn’t really a time where I got tired of listening to the game’s sound effects and nothing ever became grating on the ears. While no one particular track stood out, it did more than enough to drive that feeling of ‘space adventure’.
It should be noted that Morphite is also a mobile game. You would be hard-pressed to notice or believe that, though, once you were inside the game. For that, I give the developers massive kudos. Not once did I feel any kind of mobile trappings and this feels like a full-fledged PC game. It was only after I started playing that I learned it was a mobile game and I felt quite shocked; it’s very well made and I never ran into a single bug.
Morphite‘s journey will have you flying all over the galaxy.
Obviously, I can’t tell you how long it takes to beat this game. Your milage will vary depending on how much you enjoy exploring those random planets. I have seen people who dropped twenty-five hours into the game and loved it. Replay value is focused on the randomly generated planets as once you finish the story, there isn’t much else. It’s a definite ‘one and done’ type of game.
When it comes to innovation, Morphite is inspiring. Tackling such a huge concept as the universe is rather bold and they did accomplish that, even if I didn’t personally click with it. They took a lot of great ideas and put them in a blender. What came out is a unique flavor of space adventuring, plus it’s a great price for the amount of gameplay you’re getting here. Like I said, I can recommend this game but keep in mind that it requires investment in time and patience. It won’t grab you by the hand and whisk you away.
I may return to Myrah and Kitcat at a future date but for now, I am satisfied with the experiences I had with Morphite.