Morphopolis, released in November 2013 by developer Micro Macro Games, lets you explore a colourful world as various insects. Available on several platforms, it bills itself as a “hidden object insect adventure.” I would have no qualms with this if it were actually true.
While yes, you do spend a good deal of time dolefully clicking to find poorly hidden objects to assist other insects, that’s it. The majority of the game is repetitive legwork, as you go around finding various seeds and foodstuffs, and the occasional missing leg.
The only slight wiff of a plot appears at the game’s end – a remarkably poor place to put it. The ‘Temple of the Insect God’ could have been so much more. Make-believe about little creatures and what they get up to is a fun way of drawing the audience into the story – whether it be fairies, mice, or even insects. This minute temple offered a chance for me to finally get invested in the game…which is when it ended.
What had potential was the ability to transform into various insects. Morphopolis doesn’t take full advantage of these different insects.
Some of the insects, such as the bee, and cricket, do have specific abilities that come into play (such as pollination, and somehow cricketing a dry seed pod open) these don’t open up gameplay in any significant way. You are still resigned to toddling at a snail’s pace (insects have an unfortunate tendency to scuttle in real life) across different areas, and clicking, clicking, clicking…
What may have made this more interesting would have just been expanding gameplay, point blank.
Morphopolis was apparently based off Machinarium, one of Aminata Design’s more popular games, but has neither the excitement or exploration aspect that the latter was able to cultivate.
In Machinarium, and even Samorost 3 the search is in itself an interesting puzzle, as the player tries to find out what will allow them to progress.
In Morphopolis, the search is repetitive and dull. The surroundings (more on that later) are largely non-responsive, unlike Samorost 3‘s invitation to the player to explore – even to ride a mountain goat. The livelier action of the robot in Machinarium and the little space gnome in the Samorost series draws you in, whereas too much of my time was spent just waiting for my bug to move to another screen.
The controls were janky, the walk cycles were shuddery, and the bugs handled like your Grandpa’s rickety rattletrap. They would often fail to respond when asked to move in a different direction, and the maddeningly slow pace only served to frustrate me further.
However, one positive aspect of Morphopolis is the variety of actual puzzles available once you gather enough legs, etc.
Unfortunately, these puzzles tend to vary from simplistic to bizarrely difficult. One lightbug ‘follow-the-leader’ style puzzle, and the final puzzle completely stumped me. This inconsistency indicates to me a lack of thought for the cohesion of the final product.
At the very least, they amended one of their puzzles to allow color-blind people to enjoy the game.
Many have praised Morphopolis for its intricate design, and I will give credit where credit is due – the background, at least, has been carefully, and lovingly designed.
The care taken with this artwork disappoints me in the face of the shoddy animation, and poorly thought-out gameplay.
While I managed to snag this game for under a pound, I can’t really justify the time or money I spent on this game. While I can see the appeal for those who enjoy this genre of game, I don’t see the appeal to one with so little plot or care to anything other than background detail. Even Christmas Adventure: Candy Storm has more substance.
Cover image source
Other screenshots are from Mcro.org