After nearly a year delay, Morphies Law has finally sneaked onto the Switch. As a surprise release after the August 20 Nindies presentation, nearly all of us were caught off guard by the shadow drop. After the long wait, it is a relief to see that the size-changing mechanic is well-implemented, but you wouldn’t know that if you only tried the poorly-executed online multiplayer. Unfortunately, Morphies Law is ultimately held back by a lack of content and several gameplay hiccups that are exacerbated when playing online.
Try this on for size
This hotly anticipated indie shooter revolves around stealing mass from other players. Shoot an enemy on the leg, chest, head, or even hand, and watch it shrink while your corresponding part swells in size. The result is a chaotic battlefield brimming with oddly-proportioned players. You will frequently see hulking beasts clumsily stomping around rodent-sized Morphies scurrying to get a good angle. Look up, and you may spot what appears to be a pair of comically large legs flying across the map–look a bit closer, and a tiny torso is attached. Conversely, you may be flanked by a gorilla-armed player who has clearly been skipping leg day for, I don’t know, the last 10 or 15 years.
Morphies Law runs best offline. When playing offline, the size-changing gimmick results in a multitude of unique situations and strategies. Skittering around as a pint-sized Morphie grants access to hidden mousehole-esque passages, thus unlocking entirely new lanes through the map. Furthermore, the smaller your size, the faster and harder you are to hit. This makes battles with Goliath-sized Morphies more balanced than one would anticipate; tiny Morphies frequently run circles around their towering adversaries, easily dodging desperate shots. That’s not to discredit your abilities as a larger Morphie, though. Pump up your legs a bit and you will find that you can easily clear half of a map in a single rocket-powered jump. Increasing the size of certain body parts will power up the range, duration, or power of equipped abilities. For example, one grappling hook gets more powerful and increases its range as your hands get bigger. Suffice to say, at its best, the size variation in Morphies Law functions beautifully, and different perks for different sizes consistently balance each other out, meaning that matches only very rarely lose their competitiveness.
Mass-stealing is central to the three different team-based game modes: Morph Match, Mass Heist, and Head Hunt. Each mode is fairly unique from one another. Morph Match is the flagship mode: It functions like a regular deathmatch, except wins are earned when your team steals the most mass, not when it gets the most kills. Trying to prey on tiny troopers will not do you any favors; instead, you have to find larger opponents and steal the meat right off their bones. Meanwhile, Mass Heist involves the giant team avatars that sit on either end of the map. This is the most complex mode. Every player starts off at minimum size, and the only way to earn mass is by deactivating a shield and stealing from the other team’s avatar. With this stolen mass, you must then go to a specified altar in order to give it to your own team avatar. The largest avatar at the end of the match wins. Finally, Head Hunt is like Capture the Flag. There is a head in the middle of the map that you must capture and take to your avatar. While it may not seem like much, there is enough variation across these modes to keep sessions entertaining for at least a while.
Off the grid
Offline, the game has a certain degree of clunkiness. Controls may lag a little or feel straight-up unresponsive, and there is occasional blurriness or frame drops. In game, your Morphie may get knocked down and take several seconds to stand back up, and Morphies frequently get stuck on small obstacles. When going online, these issues become worse amidst several others popping up. For example, shooting becomes extremely unresponsive and feels less accurate while movement is suddenly extremely choppy. Online is still a somewhat enjoyable experience, but I hardly felt in control of my Morphie. For an online shooter, this is unacceptable. These stability problems will hopefully be fixed with future updates (a patch has already been submitted to Nintendo), but in the meantime, Morphies Law is hard to recommend as an online shooter.
Nothing to see here
Staying offline will not protect you from the game’s other major issue–a lack of content. Although there are offline bots as well as a decent number of unlockable weapons, power-ups, and cosmetic attachments, there are only four maps and no single player campaign to speak of. The four maps, while nice, get repetitive quickly. The game does not last too long before it feels like you have experienced everything, though different weapons and power-ups are fun to play around with.
Potential to grow
If not for light content and clunky online, Morphies Law would stand out on the Switch indie scene. Offline, the unique size-changing gameplay works very well and the available maps and modes are encouraging. The game will be much easier to recommend if online stability and more content are ever added via DLC in the future. In the meantime, though, if you have several Switch-owning friends who can get together for some download play, or if you just really want to run around with misshapen offline bots, then Morphies Law may be a worthy addition to your library.