Puzzle games have always been my kryptonite.
Not that other game styles don’t take skill or effort, but puzzle games draw me in and help me forget my surroundings. Sure, shoot-em-up and action games like GTA V are fantastic for letting off some steam or getting a quick gamer-buzz, but for some reason, if I want to devote some serious time to gaming, it will most certainly be a puzzle game.
Metamorphic right out of the gate will remind you of Portal. The first person view and the block ‘gun’ given to you make you almost feel like you’ve dropped into an expansive player-created mod for Portal. The look and feel, to sum it up frankly, is as though Portal and Minecraft got together and had a weird baby. There’s even a subway tram to take you to the next puzzle at the end of each room, similar to the elevator mechanic in Portal.
Let’s steer away from the similarities, though, and point out the differences, as there are many. First of all, sadly, there is no belligerent AI constantly taunting you. Frankly, though very well produced, I’d have to say Portal would not have been nearly as fun without the storyline and the AI that guided you through it. In this regard, Metamorphic somewhat dropped the ball. You are solving all these puzzles, riding the tram, and experiencing the game in total silence, aside from background sounds. I suppose it’s not so bad for me since I like playing music while I do puzzle games, but some interaction with another character would have been great.
The early puzzles are incredibly simple, and it’s easy to get bored because the difficulty curve has a slow start. Again, if there was something to hook me early on like a voice or even on-screen prompts; perhaps a story as to why I’m trying to escape this endless maze of block rooms and subway tunnels, then it would be easier to get me hooked. Thankfully, I was patient enough to plow through the simple stuff (OK, I was in a meeting and not paying attention) and once things got a bit more difficult, I was very emotionally invested in solving the puzzles.
I have to say that I was tempted a few times to go look up a walkthrough video for some of the harder puzzles, but I was able to somehow (no idea how) restrain myself and didn’t cheat at all. Some of them took a few tries, but overall I think the difficulty scaled appropriately once you got past the super-easy stuff. People not experienced with puzzle solving games, or who lack critical and analytical thinking may get stumped and frustrated once the going gets tough, but then again, I don’t expect people like that to be purchasing puzzle games in the first place!
Frankly, I wish there was more to it than this, but the game isn’t that complicated to explain. Play-wise, to me it’s the equivalent of Portal 1, both in the complexity of puzzles and in length, but not in production quality or storyline. I wish that there was more, but perhaps I’m just spoiled because of Portal 2. Overall, though, the biggest downfall was the fact that it was ultra-quiet, and I expected more content/guidance. Did Portal alter my perceptions of this game? Yes. Did I name drop it enough in this review? Not yet.
I loved the challenge of solving puzzles.
Stacking up blocks was great, but got boring quickly. This is where a story would have helped me stay interested. Plus, why am I riding a subway car from each room to the next? The saving grace came when I got my second gun to shoot different types of blocks (read: another color of portal) which allowed me to build a shape, and then solidify it into one unit.
Overall, I did enjoy the game, though it left me wanting a bit more from it. I suppose if it weren't so painfully similar to Portal, I would let it go, or perhaps not even notice it. However, the similarities between the two games are such that if you’ve played one, you will most certainly get bored with the other. As a standalone, though, trying to forget my past glorious experiences (except when I found out there is no cake… wtf!)
Metamorphic has a great foundation for building something engaging and fun. I look forward to the dev coming back to this game and adding some of the sorely missed storyline context, and perhaps even a talking potato.