When NASA initially started considering the first manned missions to the Mars, they had to look at all the possibilities and probabilities; how would man survive for a length of time in space? They took into account the water and food supply, whilst worried over the disintegration of the body and muscles. But the one thing they were really worried about was… boredom.
That’s what new space explorer Morphite has to try an address as well, because this explorer sees a lot of jumping between solar systems. It does however mix it with some exciting gameplay. But is that enough to keep the monotony of space travel far away?
Crescent Moon Games present Morphite, an atmospheric exploration-based sci-fi shooter with platforming elements. It has been lovingly inspired by the classics – Metroid Prime, Ratchet and Clank, and Turok. Your goal is to explore the galaxy, research plants and animals, battle hostile entities, and unravel a mystery surrounding a rare material called Morphite. It is very much like the PS4’s “No Man’s Sky”… but with an actual story.
That story of Morphite takes place in a far off future when humanity has long since populated the distant reaches of space. The player takes on the role of Myrah Kale, a young woman residing on a space station and workshop under the care of her surrogate father, Mr. Mason. What starts as a simple exploratory mission to gather supplies in order to support their shop, rapidly turns into a journey revealing Myrah’s unknown past and her relationship to a rare, coveted, and nearly extinct material called Morphite. In order to unlock and understand the mysteries of her past, Myrah must travel to undiscovered planets, roam uncharted sectors of space, and confront exotic creatures and locales in search of this Morphite. Aside from the main storyline, the worlds of Morphite are randomly generated.
Gameplay wise it is all very simple. You have your spaceship, and you use it to set a course across the stars to your next mission. There might be many solar system jumps between where you are and the system you need to get to. Each jump costs fuel; so after each one you have to spend money (chunks) to get more fuel. Through hyperspace you’ll probably get attacked by enemy ships, find some illicit cargo to plunder, or even get given the chance to help a ship in danger. You can upgrade your ship at each space station, and also explore the station picking up some more chunks to spend on extras.
Then you have the first contact down on the planets themselves. Here the perspective changes to first person and you get to run around the world exploring and jumping till your heart’s content. You start the game with just two items in your inventory, with the first being a scanner. With this useful item you can scan plants, minerals and alien creatures, and you can then sell these scans to traders for chunks. The rarest ones gets bigger rewards, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out for goodies. The other item is a standard pistol that you can use to shoot enemies, trigger things like doorways and open special chests. The more you play through the campaign, the more you’ll get access to extra weapons, like missile launchers and a special robot dog turret. Yes that’s right, you heard me the first time.
The main story involves exploring temples, triggering minor puzzles and fighting big bosses. It’s a simple game, which never becomes too difficult and the campaign is pretty lengthy, with plenty of side missions for a game of this price. But the big question is this – is it any good?
Well, it’s a mixed bag if I’m honest. I love the ambition and scope of Morphite and it does feel very epic in its scale. The story is compelling and fruitful in its execution, with a lot of things to do and discover. The actual game mechanics all work well, but it’s very simplistic in its style and tone, feeling very old school with enemies doing loops that you can easily predict. There are however some annoying jump mechanics that left me frustrated many times.
The boss battles are fun, but they don’t put up much of a challenge and unfortunately the game can, at times, get a bit buggy. During my first playthough, I found one boss got stuck in the wall, which was great for me, even though I felt bit sad for him as I fired into his stuck body. Jumping between solar systems can get a bit dull as well, but if you’re into exploring, then Morphite holds loads of delights.
The visuals of Morphite are hit with a style that the developers call “low poly” as they have attempted to mix an interesting art style, with a blocky almost Minecraft-like world. I loved and hated parts of it in equal measure. Some of the character designs are brilliant, but the creatures don’t really do it for me. The worlds can also sometimes be bright and beautiful, but at other times feel very empty. The soundtrack is lovely though and feels perfectly placed for sitting beside you on your travels.
While playing Morphite I had to keep reminding myself that this is a low budget indie game because the developers have crammed in an awful lot. Yes there are moments when the mechanics jar, the space travelling can get tiring and it sometimes looks too old fashioned. But there’s a lengthy campaign, a lot to explore and a good story.
Give it a try if you fancy a trip into the unknown.