Just having a great premise will never be enough to save you, but unfortunately for Morphies Law, that’s the only thing it has going for it. It’s an amazing concept, but it’s just hankered by some bad gameplay layered on top of that, a severe lack of feedback, and especially killer for an online game, a rather rough netcode. There’s a lot of aspects to it that make it just feel empty and a little lonely, like the fact there’s no music in the battles at all.
For a game that so gladly appropriates the aesthetics of Dia de los Muertos (I see you, Cosmoscope, and your based-in-Switzerlandness), Morphies Law really got none of the spark or, well, life that comes with the culture they’re so gladly taking from. It really just feels like you’re fighting in a big sort of a wasteland, and it doesn’t help that most of the soundtrack while you’re doing it is the sound of wind blowing through abandoned buildings. I keep hoping one day people will understand that Mexican culture isn’t all just Dia de los Muertos, and even that’s not just a look to take when you feel like it, but we’re definitely still waiting for that day.
So, the name of the game is mass – specifically, having more of it. There are three modes but they’re all based on one idea: that if you shoot enemies/the enemy avatar, you’ll steal their body mass and give it to yourself. The first mode is basically based on whichever team currently has more mass at the end of the time limit, with there only being a finite amount on each team that can be re-dispersed. The second mode has you stealing it from the giant team avatar that leers over the battlefield, then depositing it at an altar so it makes your avatar bigger. The last one is a capture the flag, but with a giant head instead, and it’s really weird because you only capture it once and then the mode is over. The first time I played it, I captured it in like 20 seconds and that was it!
Morphies Law is a third-person person shooter, and the idea is that as you shoot specific body parts on the enemy, your part grows, and it changes how you act. Shoot their legs, you get tall! Shoot their arms, you get stronger! There are even special paths that you can only take if you’re below a certain size, but this kind of winds up being one of the first issues I had. There were a lot of parts where I was trying to get to an altar to drop off my mass, and I couldn’t find a way – I was too large, and all of the entrances were too small. I would have liked if the game had some sort of option to shed your own mass, kind of like trading winning points for improved mobility, but that’s not a function in there, so I wound up having to wait for the alter to move before I could get in.
Speaking of which, one of the maps has giant fans that just blow you off the map or into spikes and it’s the worst level and I hate it.
Around the edges of all of this is a lot of really good customization, too. You can unlock new faces, create custom ones, new bodies, emotes and even the guns can be customized. You unlock different parts and piece them together and it changes the properties of them. All of this is great, and man, if these good ideas all gelled into something good, I’d be pretty into it. But then the problems come out.
Like the fact that it's often pretty hard to tell if you’re actually winning or not – many of my matches would end and I’d be feeling certain it had all fallen apart, only to win, and others I just had no idea at all, so I didn’t know if I needed to rally the troops or hide away to keep the enemies from taking my mass. Feedback on when you're actually hitting an enemy isn’t really great, either. Ideally, you can tell that based on your body growing, but if the enemy is too small or your body is already at a max size, you won’t even notice. Heck, even when you’re getting hit, it can be hard to tell.
The netcode is also pretty unfortunate. There were a couple of matches I got into where I would realize that the timer had stopped, that all the enemies weren’t moving, that I could just shoot and shoot them and nothing would happen, and about a minute would go by before it would tell me there were connection issues and it would have to reconnect me.
It sounds like the developer is trying to patch it and fix it up, and maybe by the time the PC release rolls out, it’ll be more solid, but it really feels like a big 2.0 type patch would do a lot more – more maps, more modes, better feedback, extra tidbits to make the game feel a little more alive. When I’m in a map that’s completely full of eight players, the sound design probably shouldn’t sound like I’m running around alone in an abandoned town.
There’s a lot of promise to Morphies Law, but there’s also a lot of frustration for the ways it fails to meet this promise. As you play it, you find yourself noticing more and more things that feel like they should be there to help you enjoy what the developer came up with, but it’s not there, so it winds up feeling empty, lifeless, and unclear as to what you’re doing. A cool idea will get you partway there, but without the right follow-through, it just winds up being a game you’re not interested in playing much longer.