It is time for a new first-person platforming-based title to enter the ring for the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC with Metamorphosis. This would be the latest title to come out of Ovid Works and All In! Games that dives into some of Franz Kafka's works in terms of theme and mood while having us navigate the world in the body of an insect in a mix between the two worlds. Those who know the original book, The Metamorphosis, will have a better understanding of it all even if the game was only inspired and not a direct retelling of it all. Something good to know as we head into our latest review here and for this video game version of it all.
Gregor Samsa had a rough night of drinking with a friend of his and wakes up in an odd situation of things. The weirder part is that Gregor has awoken to find that he has been transformed into an insect and must try to make sense of it all. That and try to figure out what is happening and how to help a dear friend of his along the way to become human again. Will he be able to do this and get back to a normal life of his own? Well, that is up for us to figure out and interpret along the way of it all. All while making new friends too.
Given the concept behind all of this and how Metamorphosis flows out there, puzzles are a big portion of the game from the start and figuring things out along the way dives into the core idea behind the works here. Sadly, some of the puzzles are designed either too easy or almost too difficult with many of my issues deriving from the language barrier the developers placed in here. Sure, it may be a little easy to know you have to wind up a clock to hit opening hours for one item, but it is a completely different one where you have to dive into a load of documents written in blurry German to find the solution for another. There never really felt like a true middle ground in Metamorphosis and in some parts I was stuck listening to the same background characters droll on while trying to make sense of something that even fluent Germans would most likely have issues with. Just get ready for that and a lot of trial and error even if you do know the language.
Speaking of language, it is a very weird choice and thus hurt my experience with Metamorphosis when it came to the fact that the insects had a language and was completely voiced, but not in any language that could be understood. It was a mix of made-up noises with a few hints of real words mixed right in. It may have fit the theme and idea behind the grander scheme of Metamorphosis, but when you are forced to read some subtitles to even know what is going on while other characters in the background are speaking human languages, it is too distracting and a bit rough to keep up with the narrative of what is going on. It would have made much more sense to have the whole thing voiced in a language that someone can understand after it was set that they were not speaking anything specific. Especially when there is a point where it is made clear that in-game humans can understand the insects. This truly stripped down the story for me and left the game to focus only on the gameplay elements.
Thankfully, most of those elements were something I did love from Metamorphosis with one exception. Almost out of nowhere, the gameplay shifts from exploration and a form of platforming into a weird "fetch quest" set up. Only for one section while the rest of the game kept good pacing and the ideas behind why you are doing what you are doing. Maybe this was because I lost interest in the story due to the above, or the fact that we went from trying to figure out how to navigate the environment safely turned into talking to one bug here to go talk to another there to then talk to another to get to a final goal. It was a weird shift that felt so out of place and ruined the pacing for me along the way. It may not be that way for everyone, but it sure made me struggle to carry on to the end during my time.
Right out of the gate, and I know I have mentioned this in past writings for Metamorphosis, the look and art style for the game truly caught my eye here. Not only in the insect portions but also for the human elements in the game. There was a great use of space and ideas truly went into how a different society could exist in the background of the core one we started in. It felt like it captured the themes that the original writing was going for but in a fun way that gives the layperson the same sense without the deeper need to understand. That may not be the biggest draw for many when it comes to Metamorphosis here, but it was an element that kept me wanting to explore even if it was hard to get the direct explanations from the NPCs out there.
Another aspect of Metamorphosis that truly shined was the core gameplay and the platforming; if you want to call it that. The game is all in a first-person view and we need to use the basic movements of an insect to navigate the world. A world that is, more or less, open to explore if you can reach the heights and locations out there. All of which with the proper hindrances out there to make sure you can stay on path and give you a challenge if you want to try to take a short cut. Something I was able to figure out once you gain the ability to walk on walls and cling to other objects via honey and ink. It may sound odd in writing, but it truly worked out well in Metamorphosis to keep me moving and jumping around the scaled-up environments trying to make heads and tails of it all.
To go along with that, there is also some solid replay value when it comes to this part of Metamorphosis and I found myself replaying a few chapters to get the different feelings. There are multiple ways to get to locations and various other paths in many parts of the game that can keep you coming back a bit more. It is nothing greatly extensive as other games, but it does have you thinking about how you can move and tackle other parts of it all. At least that is how it felt and when a game can do that as Metamorphosis did, it gets a bit more love from me so I do not just play once and then never look at a title again like so many others out there.
If you want to go into a nice and short platforming experience, Metamorphosis can be a title for you. This is the part that it felt like truly shined for me when some of the puzzles bothered me or just felt in the way to slow down some of the pacing. It is also an interesting world that has been crafted here and can be fun to explore. It is a bit rough to get to the deeper meaning that the game looked like it was going for and the elements of The Metamorphosis that were mixed in. If you can get past all of that, then you will have something worth giving a go for a few tries to get the full experience. Just do not think this is going to be a true adaptation of the source material at the end of it all. Unless the goal was to get us thinking and trying to interpret in our own way…
I give Metamorphosis 7 Redacted Certificates on the Redacted Certificate scale.
Metamorphosis — Launch Trailer
Metamorphosis was developed by Ovid Works and published by All In! Games for the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on August 12th, 2020. A PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.