Developer(s): Crescent Moon Games, Blowfish Studios, We’re Five Games
Publisher: Level 77
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: November 2, 2017
Retail price: $14.99 USD
Bite-sized Reviews differ from our more traditional, full-length reviews in that they’re restricted to smaller titles and, as the name implies, trims the fat in favor of getting straight to the point. What is this game and why should you care? Let’s get to that below!
So, what is Morphite?
A first-person sci-fi game, blending bits of exploration, narrative, and elementary shooting mechanics — think of it as a highly compressed Metroid Prime-meets-No Man’s Sky that began life as a mobile title. You’ll spend a lot of your time exploring small planets, scanning flora and fauna, which reward credits that are used to upgrade, repair, and refuel your ship in order to venture further into the galaxy. And when you’re not identifying a new tree, mineral, or insect with your scanner, you’re probably shooting hostile creatures on terra firma or dogfighting pirates of the space variety. There’s also a fully voiced narrative at play in which your player character uncovers her mysterious past with the Morphite mineral, but it’s nothing to write home about. The lion’s share of the experience falls on exploration, scanning, and upgrading your stuff, though.
Why should you care?
As a mobile title, Morphite expectedly feels right at home on the Switch (particularly on the go in handheld mode). I found it to be mostly enjoyable whenever I dove in in short bursts; with small planets that are fully explorable in roughly 20 minutes, its repetitive flow was far more noticeable during longer sessions. I’m a fan of Morphite’s low-poly aesthetic, where solid colors adorn its chunky environments (similar to Virginia and Proteus). The synthy soundtrack touches a lot of spacial Metroid notes, which is both fitting and cliche. However, if you’re after a casual game to pick up and play during a boring commute or a lunch break, Morphite could be a nice fit. There’s also nothing quite like it currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Where does it go wrong?
I already touched on this earlier, but Morphite is incredibly repetitive — land on a new planet, scan stuff, shoot a few things with loose aiming controls, upgrade your ship, repeat. Planets are small, so you’ll see everything they have to offer within minutes of landing. Most of the plants and minerals I identified were just recolored variants of the ones I found in earlier planets, which made things a bit less interesting in the long run. While scanning itself isn’t exactly fun (and entirely necessary to progress), it’s a bit of a hassle to do successfully on moving targets. This is largely due in part to Morphite’s wonky aiming sensitivity but further exacerbated in handheld mode, courtesy of the Joy-Con’s notoriously loose analog sticks. Another miss is the game’s approach to space encounters, which randomly occur while traveling from planet to planet. You can avoid these altogether by bargaining via dialogue choices or instead opt to take them on with unremarkable space flight controls (firing off unreliable bullets and pressing a dodge button is as fun as it sounds). These encounters don’t occur often, but when they do they’re wholly unsatisfying.
What’s the verdict?
Overall, Morphite is a mostly satisfying experience that’s better approached as a snack rather than a full meal. Its severe repetition tends to be far more noticeable otherwise. The digital title has a neat look, a fairly rad soundtrack, and provides a nice, casual experience rather than anything substantial that would otherwise require more of your time. Think of it as an exploratory crash course with equal highs and lows, instead of a fulfilling, galaxy-spanning adventure.
We don’t use a scoring system here at Cheap Boss Attack, so hopefully you found the information above far more informative than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes.
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.