It’s clear from the onset that Morphite doesn’t enjoy the same budget as the widely compared No Man’s Sky, but it does indeed accomplish everything that it set out to achieve nevertheless. The game immediately introduces you to Myrah Kale, a young woman who has only ever known life within the confines of a space-craft and understandably longs for adventure. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. Myrah is swiftly thrown into a prolonged story that revolves around a mysterious material known as the titular Morphite. Grouped with your AI robotic feline ‘Kitcat’, you both set off and embark on a mission to find out more about this surprisingly resourceful material and discover exactly what ties you to it as a result. It all sounds like a fascinating journey on paper, but the reality of the matter is far from that.
You see whilst Morphite does indeed house a genuinely intriguing overarching plot, the trek to the conclusion is bland, boring, and lacks imagination. Despite that each location comes with a variety of vendors and dangerous inhabitants to tackle, the environments are not packed with enough life or content to bolster the overall experience. The design may well intentionally try to make you feel isolated and alone, but it does so in such a way that you literally feel cut-off from the very adventure that the protagonist was hoping for. This can be said for the entirety of play, across all of the planets and locations that you’ll witness along the way. Hell, even the means of fuel-fetching has you yawning on the spot.
The game has a currency that’s known as ‘Chunks’ which is used for upgrading your space-craft and your gear, on top of materials that you scavenge from the planets you’ll encounter. There’s a constant need to refuel your craft upon every trip that you take, and whilst that doesn’t at all sound unreasonable, again the reality is the polar opposite. In order to obtain fuel you’re required to scan lifeforms and objects to which you can sell for fabled Chunks. The problem however is tethered to the aforementioned state of boring exploration within the confines of the desolate environments. It’s a shame because this game could have proven to be a huge hit, a black horse (if you like) that dishes up interesting mechanics that a married to intriguing surroundings, but unfortunately all we’re left with is overly simplistic gameplay that hardly does much to captivate your attention span.
There’s certainly no shortage of content to soak up which is thrown at you via space combat, side quests from vendors, and several solar systems to explore, but again it’s just not paced well enough, nor interesting enough, to hold the overall package together. It’s No Man’s Sky all over again but with less work and less effort, make of that what you will. Sure, the concept in Morphite is somewhat different to that of No Man’s Sky, but the inspiration is far too noticeable to let it slide. Anyone who has either played or watched No Man’s Sky will easily be able to pick up on similar comparisons throughout. The issue I have is this, and it’s something I have stated several times before for any game that goes beyond the realm of reality. If you’re going to create a Sci-fi experience, let your imagination run wild. Sci-fi can be anything you want it to be, it’s a genre that you can toy with to your hearts content. Morphite does very little with this imaginative freedom, and instead relies on you being content with moving from A to B without doing much to hold your interest.
If you expect me to be content with mining and scanning, which makes up for most of the gameplay, at least throw me a curve-ball and give me something in-depth and jaw-dropping to sink my teeth into. What’s really annoying is that the controls and the layout feels absolutely sublime. Morphite is certainly for the casual gamer (perhaps too casual), thanks to the considerate checkpoint system and fluid combat mechanics. You’re equipped with pistols and overpowered grenades that be switched to and from through use of the D-pad, these come in handy for when you stumble across the occasional foe, or indeed a much more intricate boss battle. None of which are particularly hard to overcome, but it’s at times like this when you cant help but wonder why the hell more moments like this are absent from the adventure at hand.
I don’t want to bash Morphite too much because the campaign is certainly interesting enough from beginning to end, and it’s an absolute joy to observe, it’s just everything in-between that falls flat. There’s a total of 15 “hand crafted” planets that are story specific, each of which can be enjoyed at your own leisure. Morphite also includes an infinite number of procedurally generated planets to discover, but if I’ve not made it clear enough already, Myrah’s voyage is too bare-bones and repetitive outside of the story. Had the developers taken the time to pack each location with meaningful vendors and more varied lifeforms, as well as quests that don’t typically rely on freakin’ scanning alone, Morphite could have been more than what it is. What we have to settle with however is a game that’s too grindy, too boring and too repetitive.
Morphite does house an interesting story with solid controls and visuals, but the trek through it is far from entertaining. The repetitive nature of play and the sheer lack of packed content is both boring and bland. The constant need to scan takes up most of the gameplay and the space combat leaves much to be desired. Fortunately the combat is engaging enough to stand tall against the rest of what’s on offer, but that alone isn’t enough to save Morphite from itself in the long run. If you enjoy vast portions of needless and meaningless exploration with a few moments of genuinely exciting segments to break up the dull pace of play, this is for you, for everyone else, you should grab a chair and watch paint dry.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.