Morphies Law: Remorphed
Developed by: Cosmoscope GmbH
Published by: Cosmoscope GmbH
Category: multiplayer shooter
Release Date: July 30, 2019
There has been an explosion of multiplayer shooters in the games space in the last five years or so as production and the ability to publish have become more accessible. But it’s hard for a shooter to break out into the space when the competition in the space is so strong. That’s what Morphies Law: Remorphed learned when it launched on the Switch in July. As far as I can tell, there is almost nobody playing this game. But why is that?
At its core, Morphies Law: Remorphed is a solid game. The central mechanic of stealing mass from other players and adding it to your own morphie is unique and horrifying, and the game modes aren’t just direct rips of your standard multiplayer shooters. Unfortunately, it seems a rocky 1.0 launch had bad netcode and was generally received poorly, but the Remorphed release may have fixed those issues, though I was only able to play with one person to test the netcode, and I encountered a few instances of lag. Granted, I live in Japan and do not know the location of my opponent. It was mostly fine though.
So, back to stealing mass. When you shoot opposing players you not only harm them but steal physical mass from their body and add it to your own. Shoot them in the head and your head grows larger, hit them in either arm and your corresponding arm will also grow in size. Each body part also will offer increased bonuses based on its size. Been shooting the enemy in the legs a lot? Well, now you’re taller and have a more powerful butt-booster. Been neglecting your feet and have tiny little toes? You’re not going to be running very fast. It’s a neat gimmick, something you need to stand out in a crowded genre, but it’s not enough to keep a community alive apparently.
The game modes are familiar but have their own unique twists thrown into them. The main objective of each mode is the same, to make your team’s Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robot (Avatars) bigger than the other teams before time runs out. How you get there is what changes from mode to mode. Head Hunter has teams attempting to claim a spare head for the headless Avatars that are looming over the map. You’ll need to defend it as a cannon charges to launch the head on to your teams Avatar. Morph Match is the basic mode, where your only focus is to grow your morphie as large as you can. The bigger your team becomes, the larger your Avatar gets. Mass Heist is one of the more unique modes they have. Each Avatar has a shield that can be brought down by standing on certain points of the map. Once the shield is down you can steal mass directly from the opposing Avatar and then deposit the mass at an altar which allows your Avatar to grow. The final game mode is The Masster, where whichever player has obtained the most mass is the only player capable of adding mass to their Avatar. You’re a big target, because you are literally larger than everyone else, but also because the game directs your enemies straight to you. It’s a novel approach to the competitive shooter scene but doesn’t revolutionize the genre.
The level design is mostly fine, but nothing extraordinary. They do take the growing and shrinking into account and create pathways that larger morphies can’t access and obstacles that smaller ones can’t overcome like fans that blow you off the map. If you aren’t familiar with the maps this will cause some frustrations because you’ll die numerous times not realizing where you are during a firefight, or just walking around a corner into a trap. The most interesting map in the game, Fiesta Salvador, starts as a mostly flat empty plane, but as you stand in certain areas, buildings will begin to emerge from the ground, eventually constructing a small city. This generates cover and vantage points around the map and helps the match evolve over time. There are some good ideas here, just in a game with no one seeing them.
Oddly, the game works in a southwestern/Mexican design, with Day of the Dead designs being the primary inspiration for the morphies it seems. I say oddly because the development studio is in Switzerland. It seems like they just liked the aesthetic of Day of the Dead masks and decorations and used that to create cosmetics for their game, without integrating that culture into the game. I don’t personally know the development team, so I can only speculate, but it approaches appropriation, without being offensive, just sort of bland. There are loot boxes which take the form of pinatas and deal out things like skins and emotes, but they’re only purchasable with in-game currency, so no micro-transactions to be found here.
But, perhaps that’s the route Cosmoscope GmbH should have taken Morphies Law. A free-to-play game would be much easier to generate a player base with, but even that isn’t a guarantee. Maybe we’ve reached a point where multiplayer indie shooters don’t have a real chance of breaking through. The developers say they want to keep supporting the game, but is that a realistic goal at this point when just over a month after the relaunch of the game on Switch I can’t even find a populated match, despite the fact that the game has crossplay with Steam? Does writing a review at this point addressing the fact that there’s virtually no player base at all only make the problem worse?
Morphies Law: Remorphed would have benefitted from a single-player campaign of some sort. Building a campaign around the mass mechanic would at least give people a reason to look at the game now when it seems no one is playing the multiplayer. I can’t say it’s a bad game, because I think it’s enjoyable to play, or would be if there were real people in the matches I played, instead of AI. Instead, I must suggest that you skip it, because there’s nothing there for a single player outside of AI matches, and you’ll be hard-pressed to convince five other people to also buy it with you.
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A code was provided to The Switch Effect for this review.