It’s easy to read about the upcoming Xbox / PC / PS4 / Switch / iOS FPS exploration game Morphite and immediately think “No Man’s Sky”. So easy, in fact, that many previews make a point to compare them – and you can see why: planets to explore, randomly generated creatures, upgrades, and space combat – the gang’s all here, as they say.
But if you’re paying attention, you’ll learn Morphite is more Metroid than No Man’s Sky and pretty unique in general. From hand-crafted planets, to multiple mini-games, to a strong narrative focus, here are 4 reasons why Morphite isn’t just a No Man’s Sky clone, and why that’s wonderful.
1. Hand Crafted Planets
Broadly speaking, the problem with randomly generated sandbox games is a lack of specificity. When a computer creates your levels, creatures, world, and loot, there may be a lot of content, but often none of it will feel special or truly epic.
In much the same way an algorithm can generate beautiful fractals but will never make the Mona Lisa, procedural / random generation will create amazing sights and breathtaking worlds, but rarely create moments on par with what a good human level designer can accomplish.
Morphite intends to marry these two worlds. Among the nearly limitless worlds to explore and gather resources from, there exists over a dozen hand-crafted planets that will move the plot forward and serve as locations for the game’s toughest challenges unique moments.
2. Story Driven
On those aforementioned handcrafted planets will be fully-voiced narrative beats – your main character sounds quite a bit like Lara Croft in fact. Morphite promises an involving story. The Xbox Store blurb puts it best: “Myrah Kale, a young woman whose life takes a sudden turn when a simple mission develops into an epic interstellar journey revealing her mysterious past and relation to a coveted substance called Morphite.”
How good this story is remains to be seen – and No Man’s Sky recently patched in a story mode, but from my time with the game, the writing is serviceable and the voice acting is good. From your worldly mentor, to your robot companion, to Myrah herself, the story so far is to-the-point and delivered in a matter-of-fact manner that doesn’t get in the way, but makes you want to learn more.
3. Metroid Inspired
The Morphite website makes no mention of No Man’s Sky, but it does mention Turok, Rachet and Clank, and Metroid. When you consider the female protagonist, unique worlds, first person perspective, and exploration-and-research first gameplay, you can see where the developers are coming from.
No Man’s Sky was exploration focused as well, but due to a lack of exciting gameplay systems – or challenge, the game suffered from a lack of incentive to explore worlds and dive deep – something Metroid, and hopefully Morphite, will provide.
And so far, Morphite has delivered on that promise as you come across unique vistas, mysterious caverns, and shops. With the foreboding terror of boss battles, it’s clear Morphite’s most treasured influence is Samus’ incredible journeys through the years.
And yes, you shoot doors to open them.
4. Mini-game infused
Morphite isn’t just all adventure, exploration, upgrades, and Tron-inspired graphics. It’s got a hefty dose of distractions too, including bowling, shooting galleries, and judging by the trailer, speeder racing.
This may seem like a minor thing, but if you pardon the turn-of-phrase, mini-games make a big impact on a game’s replayability and engagement factor. The more there is to do, and the more varied those things to do are, the more likely you are to enjoy spending time with the game – making the important story beats and hand crafted elements all the more special, because they come amid a suite unique and interesting challenges.
For example, a game like Saints Row 2 had a smaller budget, and less ‘buzz’ than Grand Theft Auto IV, but made up for it with a huge suite of things to do ranging from customization to weird and wild minigames. As a result, that game was regarded by some as more ‘fun’ than Grand Theft Auto IV, even if GTA IV was considered a better game over all.
Similarly, it’s clear Morphite is ambitious, and like Saints Row 2, is making an effort to distinguish itself from the competition by offering interesting things to do that No Man’s Sky or even Astroneer or other games its been compared to, do not.
How does it all turn out? Well, stay tuned for a full review, guides, and other interesting tidbits regarding Morphite.