At first glance, it’s easy to assume that Morphite is a No Man’s Sky clone. While it may be true that Morphite takes some inspirations from NMS, Morphite attempts to do more with procedurally generated interplanetary travel. Featuring a complete story mode with hand-crafted planets, Morphite takes players on an adventure that a procedurally generated universe simply can’t.
A Tale of Self-Discovery with an AI Cat Companion
Morphite is an atmospheric, planetary exploration game in the FPS genre. It follows the story of Myrah Kale, a woman who is trying to learn more about her past. As you follow her on her quest, she will encounter a mysterious substance known as Morphite that will launch her into an interstellar adventure. Myrah is accompanied by Kitcat 2.0, an AI robot in a cat-shaped body. Myrah and Kitcat will travel to new space systems, planets, and locations that will slowly uncover the truth behind the origins of the universe and Myrah’s life.
The story of Morphite is one of its best features. Each planet you travel to on the main-quest line is built upon by uncovering revelations and obtaining new tools for your adventure. Myrah and Kitkat’s banter is entertaining and helps build a bond between the two characters. The relationship between Myrah and her guardian, Mr. Mason, was caring. While the dialogue between the characters isn’t anything revolutionary, it helped establish meaningful relationships between Myrah and the others. The voice acting could get a bit cheesy at times, but overall I thought it was well done.
Pretty Polygons Make Up the Universe
Morphite’s presentation is made up of brightly colored, polygonal environments, characters, and creatures. The simplicity of the presentation is alright, but it becomes increasingly dull as you travel to more planets. The planets that make up the main missions are hand-crafted and feature purposefully designed buildings, statues, and creatures. The procedurally generated planets are boring, empty spaces of whatever color was made. The music and sound effects fit just fine with the overall presentation of the game with plenty of sci-fi sounds and ambient noises.
What is very unfortunate about Morphite is that it suffers from performance issues both docked and in handheld mode. The game frequently dips below 30 frames per second, especially inside temples and dungeons. This makes shooting difficult, even with the ability to lock-on. I hope that this gets fixed in a future update because it adds some frustration to an otherwise relaxing space adventure.
Without Friends, Space Can Be Empty
Morphite shines when you’re following the main quests. As I mentioned earlier, the main quests take place on planets that were hand-crafted by the developers to continue the story. These planets are the ones that are most graphically diverse and with the most refined gameplay elements. You will discover puzzles, explore temples, fight bosses, and engage with meaningful NPCs. The story will take you from a poisonous swamp to an underwater colony to prehistoric ruins. It was always exciting to see what the next planet would be like.
The procedurally generated planets are a different story. There are plenty of them to explore but exploring them leaves you with a lot of emptiness. There are always plants and animals you scan to sell for chunks (in-game currency) or upgrades, and sometimes you’ll meet NPCs that give you interesting tasks like saving their crops from bugs with bug-spray or building them a tiny shack for them to live in. Ultimately, exploring them is not as exciting as exploring the planets created for the main quests.
You’re given the option to upgrade your weapons, suit, and spaceship as you progress throughout the game. You can purchase upgrades for your ship by using chunks, and you can craft upgrades for your weapons and suit by collecting the required materials. Chunks can be gained by doing main and side quests, and selling scanned items to merchants. Suit and weapon upgrade materials are gathered by destroying mineral deposits found on planets. Upgrading your suit lets you travel to planets with high heat and low cold temperatures. Upgrading your ship can let you travel to farther planet systems. While traveling to new systems you might sometimes encounter asteroid fields, hostile enemy spaceships, or even pay a fine to the space police. It adds for an interesting break to what is otherwise a pretty loading screen.
Morphite’s thoughtfully designed story and meaningful characters provide a unique FPS experience as you go on an interstellar journey. It’s a bit disappointing to see Morphite suffer from performance issues when at its surface it seems to be a simple game. Regardless, Morphite proves to be a relaxing experience with a worthwhile campaign that will keep your interest as long as you follow the main quests. Morphite is available now on the Nintendo eShop for $14.99.
Review Copy Provided by Crescent Moon Games