Morphopolis, at least in its current, alpha state, is a part of that wave of games that eschews excessive hand holding and, like the old, 8 bit NES games of yore, simply throws you into its world and expects you to make your own way from there. It’s a beautiful game, one that takes on an unfamiliar concept as its premise and for its storytelling, a game that takes on two familiar genres, a familiar setup, and then blends all of that familiarity and unfamiliarity together in what can only be described as an engaging mix.
Morphopolis is a point and click adventure game with some puzzle elements thrown in. Think Professor Layton, except the divide here is not as explicit as it is in those games. The game is, however, structured like an RPG, or like Zelda, where you have to find specific items to progress through the world (although unlike an RPG, or Zelda, it’s not exactly open world). The premise is you as an insect in a garden living through the various stages of your life (so the closest thing in terms of aesthetics and tone would be Pikmin).
It is also a beautiful game. Really, it is. The graphics are lovely to look out, more due to the game’s stunning art style than anything else, and there’s a certain therapeutic, soothing, almost introspectively meditative quality about them. Really, you can just sit there looking at the screen for a while, just calm, relaxing, soothed.
The actual gameplay, as expected in a game of the genre, involves you clicking on the screen to interact with the game world, be it movement, or engaging something in conversation, or examining something, or picking it up, or dropping it off. It’s a simple enough control scheme- obviously- although the plethora of bugs in this version of the game often make it much harder than it should be.
The bugs. Morphopolis is currently in alpha on the PC (at least the version we had was alpha) (I’m told it will also be on iOS and Android, incidentally. And on Windows Phone. And on Blackberry. Seriously, it’s going to be on everything. You have no excuses not to get it), and the build we have is riddled with bugs, a lot of them game breaking. Of course, given enough time, you just bypass them, and they will all almost certainly be gone in the final version, but it’s a bit sad that they mar what otherwise seems to be such a serene experience.
Another problem with the build that we had was that it had literally no sound. Again, of course, that’s an occupational hazard of being at an alpha stage in your build (anyone who has played Game Dev Story knows the sound isn’t programmed in till beta anyway… right? RIGHT?), but it was a bit disappointing that we couldn’t have a low, soothing melody set against the background of chirping insects to go along with the gorgeous visuals and scenery on our screens. Although this is just an assumption, if the developers pay as much attention to the sound of the game as they did to the graphics, then this will be one gorgeous game by the time it is completed.
It’s a game I hope to return to when it is finished, so that not only can I enjoy the soundtrack that it so direly lacks, but so that I can enjoy its excellent gameplay and story without being interrupted by bugs again. It is a game I hope to enjoy as it is meant to be enjoyed so that I may be able to recommend it to everyone without any hangups, reservations, or caveats.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep trying to play this build and hope to goodness it doesn’t break this time.