Once you’re in the game, you’ll be told that you have this odd “morphing disease” that causes you to turn into the things you kill. Bit of a pain, that. Bearing this in mind, it might be best to not go and kill everything around you – think carefully the next time you get the urge to swat a fly, eh? This is the main ‘gimmick’, if you like, in Morf, and it leads to a rather interesting form of causal roguelike.
“In this web-based roguelike, you control a brave hero named Morf who has the power to take over the bodies and abilities of his slain enemies.”
If rogueliking is your thing, and let’s be fair; those who read these words (that’s you) will most likely be very much into that, then you should most certainly go over and at least give the game a try. You think it stops accessibility at just being browser-based? Hell no, you’ll only need to use your mouse for this roguelike. How condensed and streamlined is that?! If you played Cardinal Quest at all, then just imagine that but even more simple, and with that quirky become-your-slain-foe mechanic popped in, of course.
You Need To Become Your Enemy
Sound design is important most of the time. Morf practically lives on sound design. Not to play down the rest of the game, but you’ll notice it as soon as you enter – there’s a dungeon and all of its crawlies in your ear. Guttural sounds from beasts, chirps and squawks from distressed birds and a low ambient sound with a hint of menace welcome you into Morf. It’s not exactly friendly. However, these sounds are kind of inviting because you want some threat with your traipse through a dungeon, or whatever this place may be. Adding to the great sound is the simple, but fairly satisfying footsteps of your walk – despite the fact that you’re probably a creature that can’t even wear a boot (such is sound design for games). It really helps to make the act of clicking on a tile and watching your character move to it just that bit more sweeter – like you’re actually getting somewhere and doing something.
Unfortunately, what I’ve managed to see of Morf so far doesn’t really match that audio presentation. The game is solid, and it’s certainly challenging, despite the simplicity of a mouse-only interface, and having boiled the genre down to its utmost basics, but the monsters don’t match what you hear. All that you face is rats, spiders, druids and wanderers. Now, I say this and am aware I haven’t actually been able to get that far into the game, so I could be completely wrong about that as you may find more fearsome foe further down. I know that I did once drink a Mystery Potion and turned into a green goblin, so it seems likely that more variation lies in the deep. Which also means that I’m terrible at the game if that is the case, because I’m still on that weak range of enemy.
Being a roguelike, Morf does have a typical line up of features, including randomly generated levels, lots of loot to find and turn-based everything – movement, attacking, drinking potions. Though it never really feels turn-based, and that’s because you can take as many turns as you want at a time. It’s just that once you commit to so many the the enemies will also have that many to try and stop you with, and you can’t back out of that. The goal is to travel as far down as possible in pursuit of an artefact, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it. Though the game does have some tactical edge, it feels more luck-based more than anything. Movement and navigation are your main considerations because you don’t want to take on too many enemies at once, as well as managing your inventory. Otherwise it’s mostly a case of using Health Potions when you have them and replacing your weapon (which seems to run out quick) and your armor and using spells when you have them. Becoming another form doesn’t really have much weight in the end because it mostly effects your secondary attack, and none of them seem to be capable of causing anything too dramatic.
Still, while Morf does seem to be a bit of casual clickfest that streamlines strategy into a form that’s hard to affect too much, it is a game that’s enjoyable to play at least. And due to its easy-to-play nature and cyclical learning curve, there’s plenty of reason to just toil away for hours until you find the best way to use items and tackle enemies.