Metamorphic Review

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Metamorphic draws inspiration from the likes of Portal but forges its own identity

This game is similar to Portal on the surface – it’s first-person with a gadget on your hand trying to reach the exit of the room. The puzzles are completely different though.

You’re provided with a fixed number of cubes for each room. There are 3 types: white/sticky (remain anchored in place) in the early game; green/normal in mid/late game; red/helium in late game. Just when you’re getting used to one type you get a new one and have to change your thinking so the game stays fresh throughout.

You build structures to help you climb up or bridge gaps to reach the exit and you often have to think of a way to transfer the cubes past a screen before you can start construction. The unique feature here is that the structures you build are physics-based so they can lean in corners, anchor into holes, roll around, collapse, fall etc. all of which a) can be used to solve the puzzles and b) can scupper what you thought was a solid bridge. Some levels have mixtures of white/green/red which you have to use together for the solution.

A common scenario I found myself in was thinking I had the right solution but couldn’t quite make it work, for example the jump was just a little bit too far, so I would try nudging the structure a bit or keep trying the jump over and over… then eventually realise that if I changed the structure a bit it became much easier. The physics encourages you to poke things around to try and make it work. I remember at one point thinking it was like trying to manhandle a big sofa up a stairwell but without the sweat (the same amount of swearing though).

Metamorphic

That Metamorphic has been inspired by Portal is telling

Things I really enjoyed

Not having to boot into horrid MS Windows.

The satisfying fffffftttt noise when collecting cubes, especially when “hoovering up” multiple cubes.

The scope of the puzzles. There are 4 aspects to every solution: a) finding the exit (not always obvious), b) devising a solution, c) executing it – this can involve a controlled topple, time-sensitive build etc and d) travelling it – you often need to be very nimble and sometimes you have to make a dash/jump for it before your structure collapses! The green/red structures are cylindrical and I’ve slipped off more than a few times.

Difficulty

There were a few easy levels that I got straight away but most involved varying degrees of head-scratching and a few were rage-inducing (in a good way). There was only one puzzle I gave up on and Youtubed the answer, but even when you know the solution it often takes multiple attempts to construct and travel it. There can be more than one way to solve the puzzles due to the physics.

Length

There are 16 levels with an average 3 puzzles per level, so around 50 puzzles total. There’s talk by other reviewers about completing the game in 3-5 hours but I have to say I’m dubious. I got a good 15 hours out of it.

Performance

My specs: Ubuntu 16.04, i7 with 8Gb RAM and midrange nVidia graphics. Apart from the occasional glitch (see below) it was smooth and responsive. I encountered none of the performance issues reported in another review here.

Minor annoyances

  • Fullscreen only, no window mode.
  • No controller option.
  • Some minor glitches: on rare occasions the cube frame disappears so you can’t see where you’re placing it; I once had a glitch where my right-click action stopped working. In both cases quitting to main menu fixed it.
  • No trading cards (yet) and only one achievement.

Medium annoyance

Some areas of rooms are too dark to see anything, especially in daylight. In retrospect these are always dead/unimportant areas, but especially in early game I kept wondering if a crucial element of the solution was hidden there.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this game. If you’re a fan of Portal or Q.U.B.E. then this is a must-buy. Watch out for the final puzzle if you suffer from vertigo!

Good

  • Challenging physics puzzles
  • Cool, glassy 3D graphics

Bad

  • Only a few minor annoyances
8.2

Great