Morphite is an indie atmospheric sci-fi first person shooter published by Blowfish Studios and Crescent Moon Games, and developed by We’re Five Games. In Morphite, you take on the role of Mayra and search for the elusive titular resource while exploring space and uncovering a mystery of galactic proportions .
Developer: We’re Five Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch. PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher
Interface: Controller or Mouse and Keyboard
Available digitally on Nintendo Switch eShop, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and Steam
If you fell into the hype felt just before the release of No Man’s Sky , but were left feeling disappointed after release, in a way Morphite may be somewhat of a pallet cleanser. It doesn’t have the size that No Man’s Sky has, but it has more fleshed out content than the infamous launch version of the game. Morphite is more narrative focused and involves more than just discovering and interacting with life on other planets. Even with a narrative focus having you travel to the same planets in the same order, planets are still randomly generated and unlike No Man’s Sky, Morphite succeeds at making each planet feel unique with its creatures and environments.
Your mission while traveling to and exploring each planet is to investigate ancient temples and find others who can help you. This usually involves turning on power modules to open a temple and obtain the secret items inside, whether that be morphite itself, or other mysterious ancient relics. There is some light platforming along the way, but getting from one platform to next always feels possible due to being an appropriate distance from each other. There’s also no falling damage, so you only have to worry about falling if the platform is above toxic liquid, which may kill you if you aren’t able to escape it fast enough.
On each planet, you pass through a few checkpoints, but they don’t happen as often as they should. Each time you play the game you start on your ship and when returning to a planet can either go to where you first landed or your latest checkpoint, but due to how few there are you likely will have to redo something you had already done previously. This can be irritating if you aren’t sure of the best way to progress further toward your destination. You also have a beacon item which calls your ship for you anywhere on a planet as long as you’re outside, and it’s surprising that an auto-save feature was not implemented alongside it. The game could definitely be improved by the addition of more auto-saves or a manual save feature to allow the player to either save anywhere or at specific save points.
While exploring planets, you also scan various plants and animals which you can then gain money from. Some creatures are much harder to scan than others — with faster, smaller creatures and some fast flying ones being the hardest to get a read on. It can also be challenging to scan a creature when you get to close to it and it starts attacking you, but keeping your distance when this happens will allow you to scan it, even though it’s not as easy. A lock on button would be beneficial for both scanning constantly moving creatures as well as fighting against bosses and hostile individuals.
The bosses all feel appropriately challenging, even if some are underwhelming. Sometimes they may take a few tries to defeat due to their patterns and lack of a lock-on function — especially if you haven’t upgraded your weapons — but they’re definitely more fun than frustrating. These bosses add more character to the game and help the game differentiate itself from the often compared No Man’s Sky.
There are also various side missions to take on by talking to different individuals on each planet and space station. These side missions are nice if you’re looking for a little more content and have a decent amount of variety; from fetch quests, to mini games, and all sorts of other objectives. These missions reward you with extra money or resources, which is always useful for upgrading your equipment.
Upgrading your ship and weapons never feels like it’s needed, but it’s always useful. Your starting weapon, the Plasma Pistol, only has five ammo naturally, and takes some time to fully recharge, although it can hold more ammo which can be picked up from various crates scattered among the planets and space stations. It may take a little longer to fully recharge after upgrading, but the key benefit is that you won’t run out of ammo as fast and won’t feel the need to resort to your other weapons which don’t refill as often.
You don’t have to follow the main story mission exactly and can explore other planets, but those planets can be extremely lacking in content. Some planets are also hazardous having extreme temperatures or toxic air, and you have to collect enough special resources to create something in the conversion chamber — which only appear in some locations — that will allow you to travel on those planets without dying. These useful items are created from certain resources you scan which will say what they can be used for, such some plants having heat resistance, while others can obtained from breaking crystals or completing side missions.
It would be wise to write down the names of the planets and space stations with weapon upgrade shops and conversion chambers. You likely won’t be able to memorize each area you land on due to the strange names names and you can easily get lost, making backtracking more difficult than it has to be. Other times, you may reach a conversion chamber only to realize you haven’t gathered enough materials, meaning that you will have to go to a nearby planet or space station to find more materials or sidequests that reward you with those materials.
Besides planets, there are also space stations you can land on where you can refuel, sell resources, upgrade your weapons, and repair your ship. You have to stop at these space stations more often in the beginning when traveling from system to system, but this is needed less often as the game progresses and you have enough currency, called chunks, to upgrade your fuel tank. One particular space station has you return to it after every mission in order for the story to progress, sometimes manually and other times automatically although it would be better if you could return there automatically by default and choose if you want to take the time to travel back yourself.
Another notable event which happens while traveling from one mission location to the next is coming across other ships. Some will be other explorers who are impressed by you and will give you additional resources, while others are more hostile and will cause some damage to your ship when passing through if they notice you and if they don’t then you can choose to engage in combat with them as well as bargain or retreat. Your hull may be damaged by the enemy ship no matter which action you choose, but can be easily repaired for a small fee.
The low polygon graphical style of Morphite was off putting to me at first, but it became more of a stylish work of art once I becomes accustomed to it. The one significant graphical problem I encountered is that when going underwater, the visuals seemed to become too dark, making it harder to see where you’re going. Going underwater is rarely needed, but many planets have small bodies of water you will likely fall into while platforming toward a power module.
The music feels appropriate and almost relaxing, though it’s not particularly memorable. Some tracks are more ambient, while others provide a fitting sci-fi techno beat.
There is some voice acting featured in Morphite, and although it’s well done, it doesn’t feel necessary, and the game would be fine without it. I found it particularly annoying when characters were heard repeating the same lines several times over and over due to the lack of checkpoints.
Morphite may not be the most innovative or remarkable game out there, but it’s a extremely pleasant sci-fi adventure. If you enjoy exploring space, meeting aliens, and uncovering mysteries, and don’t mind a different graphical style or a lack of checkpoints, then you should set out to explore Morphite.