It’s a week later and the newest multiplayer shooter for the Nintendo Switch, Morphies Law, has sadly failed to improve. It’s hard not to feel disappointed that such a brave and highly creative IP such as this one is mired in problems, whether they be technical or sourced in some dysfunctional design issues. It’s a game that sounds exciting on paper but remains hampered in its current execution.
Morphies Law is a competitive shooter focused around adorable robots decked out in a kind of of Mexican calavera artwork pastiche. The prominent mechanic involves trading mass between players or objectives, with each character’s head, arms, legs, chest, and butt changing size — get a number of headshots on an opponent and your head will grow, while their head shrinks, and the same goes for pretty much any body part. It’s a curious and inventive idea that results in most matches ending with freakish characters emoting, and renders ineffective players puny and hard to hit, for a time.
Unfortunately, the potential for this idea to thrive becomes frustrated by numerous factors. Matches max out at four minutes, which means that time spent staring at a setup screen feels equitable or unbalanced towards actual time in a match. While it’s true that this segmented progress allows experience points to consistently accumulate, offering up loot boxes (pinatas, of course) as well as some resultant equipment and weapon creation options, it repeatedly interrupts the sense of flow and immersion. Add in some significant net code issues, creating situations where quickmatch searches never resolve, or otherwise thrust you into lag-burdened matches with mostly international players, and the prospect of engaging into extended sessions of Morphies Law becomes grim.
Players seeking out lore or narrative content won’t find anything satisfying to sink their teeth into here, which seems like a missed opportunity considering the overblown sense of character, theatrical soundtrack, and overall intention to charm. There are frequent references to “your Morphie” and a myriad of surprisingly in-depth character customization features, but it’s all fairly weightless in the grand scheme of a competitive shooter concept with minimal character-oriented groundwork. There’s a tutorial that kicks off when you load it up for the first time, which incorrectly implies that some sense of world-building will permeate the actual game, but it’s solely restricted to help messages in menus after this single scenario. A robust single-player adventure-style mode would have helped the game immensely, prompting adhesion to its oddball ideas, but at least it offers some functional and customizable bot-matches if your Switch is out of internet connectivity range. These matches even offer experience points, albeit at a reduced percentage of live play, and subject to a daily cap.
Once loaded in a live (and hopefully region-local) match, a few things become clear: most guns act more like water hoses, none of the control options feel effectively appropriate, and it’s extremely difficult to get a feel for how well a team is performing or what everyone should be focused on. There is a ton of grandiose foley work, with wacky sound effects clanking and bonking for seemingly no reason, and little effective instruction in how to play each game mode beyond a quick pre-map guide. It’s safe to say that the earliest ten or so games will be spent learning how each mode and map works, and that’s before getting into the more in-depth mechanics, like finding tunnels that tiny ineffective players can utilize to flank enemies and infiltrate hotspots unseen.
In those first ten games it’s not uncommon to stumble into the best content Morphies Law has to offer, though. The level Tanker Town leans back and forth between each team’s Avatar (enormous Morphies which factor into the win-state for every match, and dramatically loom in the visible distance), and contains slippery oil slick zones and navigable vents in the floor. Teammates can shoot each other to heal, meaning that insecure Morphies can play the backline and act as ersatz support units, and there’s even a butt-jetpack to change positioning and evade danger. Numerous special rechargeable items called Plugins factor into each match, offering tide-turning abilities under cooldown, like large bubble shields which can disrupt team fights on both sides.
All of these inclusions are smart and unique ingredients for a shooter, but the controls, whether gyro-sensitive or straightforward analog, never feel up to the task of a game about focusing fire on body parts in combat. Most of the time, Morphies just blast continuously from a distance and hope for a kill, and the lack of precision seems to inform the stream-quality of gunfire, ensuring that players can at least cause each other a bit of falloff damage. It’s all too imprecise and loose, and synergizes with the mostly poor networking and lag issues in the worst way.
There’s definitely something to work with here, and the word “potential” is inevitable in summary. An eventual launch on PC may offer the precision its central mechanic requires, but more maps and game-types are crucial to its present survival as a console shooter. If bot-matches are your preferred cup of tea and/or regional network play passes muster, you’ll see Morphies Law’s greatest gimmicks shine, but there’s something distastefully “early access” about the game in its present state.
Morphies Law is out now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99. A digital copy for Switch was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.