Game

Review: Morphies Law: Remorphed Squanders a Great Concept

Screenshot: Morphies Law

 

When I first saw gameplay for Morphies Law I was definitely intrigued. I love the sugar skull aesthetic, and the fact that it’s an arena shooter that doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s hard to take something seriously when you’re butt-rocketing around—Morphies Law’s bizarre jetpack analogue.  In fact, everything in Morphies Law ends up feeling so outright bizarre that it’s hard to take anything seriously.

Its original launch didn’t seem to grab players and critics, and it ended up being another shooter in a market that is full of them. With their new Remorphed release, there has been dedicated servers added, along with a bunch of extras to smooth out the whole experience (like the musical interlude while matchmaking) along with a PC release with cross platform play between the Switch and Steam versions.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

Morphies Law is a third person arena shooter. It has heavy Splatoon vibes in its setup and gameplay. It’s four versus four, and your goal isn’t to kill the opposing team, but to steal mass from them. When you steal this mass, it gets added to your own. The more you shoot your enemies, the bigger you get. Being bigger isn’t always better, though—your size bestows benefits depending on which body parts are bigger, but it also makes you a bigger target that can be busted apart more easily. Unlike Splatoon, the guns are a little bit more like real guns, but your character doesn’t die when they’re defeated. Instead, you just roll back to your starting zone and regenerate. I mean, they’re basically sugar skull robots anyways, so any violence is robot on robot (if that makes it any better).

Each body part has a different effect based on its size. The size of your hands increase fire rate, the size of your butt increases the effect of your butt rocket, etc. You steal this mass by hitting your opponents in the specific body part, but you probably won’t be aiming for any specific body part, and will be stealing mass from enemies wherever you can get it. This turns most fights into battles between crazy looking skeletons with freakishly proportioned body parts.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

Size also affects if you can enter certain parts of the level, usually by restricting certain passageways by size. Smaller morphies can go into pipes, or under fences, while the larger ones are mostly stuck just being targets. In fact, most of the advantages go to smaller morphies. In combat, size effects how easy it is to get shot—the bigger you are, the bigger a target you are.

The concept of stealing mass is great, but in practice, everything is so fast and hectic, none of it really seems to matter. It feels like you’ll have a big head, arm, whatever, but the gameplay continues on as normal until you get too large and are inevitably broken into small bits and forced to start all over. This is really just owing to the naturally hectic nature of arena shooters, but it’s a real shame this concept didn’t pan out into more interesting gameplay.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

There are four different game modes, which sound vastly different from each other in the descriptions., But in practice most of the modes feel same-y, and sometimes I have to struggle to remember which I’m playing at any given moment.  The most different among the list is perhaps the capture the flag style mode called Head Hunt. It’s basically “capture the giant head.” The larger your morphie, the easier it is to carry the large head, which makes great use of the size mechanics.

There are seven different maps to play in which to play these various modes, each with their own twist. In fact, most of the creativity in Morphies Law seems to be in the various arenas you can play in. Some of the maps have particularly annoying qualities, but none stood out as unfun or particularly unpleasant.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

The weapons you have available are lackluster, and the firepower is one of the things that makes Morphies Law underwhelming. You can combine weapons and power-ups to make unique combinations, but none of the weapons or power-ups ever struck me as particularly fun or interesting. You have to unlock new character levels to unlock most everything in Morphies Law, including weapons, and that’s a drag. Most of the weapons that I used early on were unsatisfying, and made advancing forward in level to try out new weapons feel like a tedious chore. I don’t mind progression, and I don’t even mind a bit of a grind. It’s just the grind in Morphies Law tends to feel extremely unpleasant.

Morphies Law leans heavily into customization, which is great. Like I’ve said before, I love the sugar skull look, and being able to make your perfect sugar skull avatar is one of the best parts. The customization options aren’t quite as diverse as I’d hoped for, but the ability to make your own custom designs for parts like your head and body really adds to it, and adds to the overall weirdness. The custom designs you can create are limited to stickers you unlock as you play—no free drawing allowed, which is probably for the best.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

I spent most of my time with the Nintendo Switch version of Morphies Law, but I did play some of the Steam version for this review. It was originally a Nintendo Switch exclusive, so I thought it would handle that system just fine. Unfortunately, it seems to struggle a little performance-wise.  The graphics on the Nintendo Switch version aren’t the best, either, and it turns all of the vibrant colors into a muddy mess. On PC, the colors pop, it runs smoothly, and it probably provides a much more pleasant experience.

You can play Morphies Law free on PC with the Fartnight version. This version of Morphies Law allows you to unlock the game a piece at a time. If you have the free version you can’t play offline versus AI, or create local multiplayer matches. But you can still player against others online, though most sounds are replaced with fart sounds (after the first 30 minutes of play) which attempt to annoy you into unlocking parts of the game piecemeal. I am honestly severely put off by anything that tries to annoy me into buying it.

Morphies Law is certainly smack full of charm, and there is so much about it that I love. But then sometimes they just lean so heavily on a concept that it feels like an air horn blaring in your face when you’re supposed to be amused. I get it, farts can be funny, but if that’s all you find when you reach into your bag of tricks for any particular concept, perhaps it’s time to rework that concept.

Screenshot: Morphies Law

I really wanted to like Morphies Law, but it’s one of those few games that looks great from the outside, but is a bit painful to play. It didn’t help that the Switch version’s technical performance was a little disappointing. The biggest missed opportunity is the lack of creative use of the different size mechanics.  I’ll probably get my arena shooter fix elsewhere going forward.

Morphies Law: Remorphed is available on Nintendo Switch, and Steam. You can even try it out on Steam for free by downloading the Morphies Law: Fartnight version.

 

 

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