Morphite is a bit of a curiosity. It’s been billed as a “casual atmospheric shooter, inspired by the classics”. I was initially quite intrigued by its rather Spartan look, hoping it was concealing something remarkable within. My biggest regret is that I played the Nintendo Switch version, which turns out is not the best example of a port to Nintendo’s console. Even excusing the technical presentation, Morphite is somewhat barebones.
A young explorer named Myrah Kale is sent from her carer’s space station to scan the local flora and fauna for information when she comes across a mysterious mineral called Morphite. This, as it turns out, has the ability to turn into weapons and equipment for Myrah, and what follows is an interstellar journey of self-discovery which is sadly remarkably dull.
Aside from being a story that has had similar tropes explored in a more compelling way before, the characters are as bland as their visage would have you think. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the art style per-se, as its minimalist nature is at the very least distinctive. To try and compensate for the bland characters though, Myrah’s companion KitKat – a robot cat AI – tries to make jokes, but the delivery is about on par with Microsoft Sam with a helium addiction.
It’s certainly worth proceeding with the story as much as you can, as this will enable you to receive new gear quickly and even scan multiple things or pick up minerals to buy new equipment and upgrades. This also includes things to enable Myrah to venture to more hostile environments or equipment upgrades for your ship.
This is important really, as while the story planets are designed by humans, the rest of the galaxy is randomly generated and Morphite has, as a result, been compared to No Man’s Sky. I’ve not personally played Hello Games’ controversy stricken game, but I don’t see how Morphite does anything in these randomly generated segments that improves on the formula.
What Morphite reminds me more of is Metroid Prime, only with an emphasis on the scanning things as opposed to the intricately designed levels. There are elements of that when the worlds are not randomised, but obstacles and bosses are generally hidden behind doors that can be opened by a single weapon.
With such a low polygon look to it, you would imagine that Morphite would run reasonably well on the Switch. After all, the console has done well with much more graphically intensive games. Sadly, this is not the case, and while it generally manages to maintain its 30fps target on Switch – it hits 60fps on other platforms – actually scanning stuff and occasionally shooting things with guns all feels a little off and glitchy.
There were plenty of times when I’d be scanning things, only for the animal to jerk around and lose focus. There are upgrades to equipment throughout the game that help mitigate this, including for the scanner, but I felt that this didn’t really help a great deal particularly with smaller and more agile subjects. In fact, the majority of the time the enemy glitched into the scenery and that was how I scanned them.
AI is also a major point of concern throughout, as it either ran straight at me or ran into some scenery and managed to get itself stuck. Those with ranged attacks generally had the aim of a storm trooper as I was actively weaving around and not even the bosses were capable of more than a handful of attacks, all of which were easily dodged.
There’s a chance after going to each planet, stocking up on fuel at space stations and trading scans for credits, that you’ll encounter a hostile ship or two. These parts boil down to dodging enemy fire while firing back at the same time. On the Switch, this is significantly trickier than ground combat as performance suffers, but it’s generally quite dull anyway.
There is such a thing as being too laid-back and Morphite is most certainly that. With visuals that are too basic and lacking in character, an almost sleep inducing pace, and some technical issues on Switch that can’t be ignored, there are few redeeming qualities for this utter snooze-fest.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch