For my #6 game of 2017, we have one that really came out of left field to surprise me.
Morphite was a very unassuming game. After the broken promises of No Man’s Sky to deliver an amazing universe to explore at launch, I was skeptical that a game I had never heard of would be able to even come close.
The subtle genius of Morphite was that it never intended to go after the No Man’s Sky’s promise of complete freedom in space. While the universe of Morphite was procedurally generated, the developers went with a far smaller goal.
The story of the game pushed players to explore while providing the means to upgrade their abilities. Scanning creatures, plants and more, would give the player currency and resources to upgrade their base stats. The game started off on the simple side, but it was surprising how far it went with adding in new kinds of content and challenges. Questing, ship battles, boss fights, platforming, racing, and I’m sure there was more that we didn’t see yet.
The game’s presentation is also another example of an indie developer doing more with less. The abstract design of planets and characters required far less graphical power compared to No Man’s Sky, while the game’s synthwave soundtrack was great to zone out to.
There were two things that hurt the game I think. The first was an overall lack of polish: Cumbersome menus, getting stuck on the environment, and that there wasn’t enough growth to elevate the basic gameplay.
The other problem was that the pacing and progress of the game were at odds with each other. You wanted to explore the universe, but any gameplay or mechanic growth was entirely built into the linear story of the game. I could see a lot of people getting bored with the game and quitting before things started to get good.
Morphite was one of those unassuming titles that if it works for you, expect to spend a lot of time listening to great music and exploring the universe.
For #5 this year, we have the funniest game I’ve played all year.