Gaming has proven itself time and time again as a medium of true art. Whether it’s broaching serious and relevant subject matter, or profound experiences that only an interactive format can offer, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume games could also tackle literature.
Metamorphosis, a new surreal adventure game for PS4, takes inspiration from the Franz Kafka novella of the same name, but expands upon the scope of the original story. You were a human being yesterday, but you’re a bug today. What now? Let’s find out if Metamorphosis delivers on this intriguing premise.
Honey, I Shrunk The Protagonist!
The Metamorphosis is one of Kafka’s most well-known works, but the story largely takes place within a single room or home. The game borrows the same premise (a man suddenly finds himself transformed into an insect), but quickly whisks you away to surreal and fascinating landscapes. Furthermore, in the Metamorphosis game, you have also become incredibly small.
From a story perspective, the mystery behind your transformation was enough to keep my interest in the beginning. The sudden ability to converse with other insects also yielded some pretty funny dialogue and a glimpse into the lives of bugs, who suffer from very familiar problems, apparently.
As you seek out answers, the game also tries to tell a parallel story involving the humans in your life and those in the environments around you. This boils down to people having conversations in the background while you’re trying to navigate platforming puzzles and other elements of the environment.
It’s a solid idea, but the voice acting and general dialogue ends up being more of an annoying distraction than something you’ll want to listen to as you explore. The delivery is fairly flat and the conversations tend to go in circles for quite a while before everyone inexplicably stops talking.
I would have preferred to simply have the game’s focus remain on your transformation and the dialogue with other insects, as opposed to these long stretches of background conversation that only serve to distract from the moment-to-moment gameplay and platforming.
Turning our attention to the gameplay, Metamorphosis leverages its unique perspective to great effect in the various environments you navigate. Your small stature allows for something as standard as an office to become a sprawling environment with all manner of different platforming and puzzles to solve.
I especially enjoyed the revelation that entire towns and businesses existed within the walls and gadgets of our real world. A particular favorite was a sort of multi-level bar and nightclub inside of a gramophone.
The sheer awe these environments inspire is by far the best aspect of Metamorphosis. Moving through the environment also feels precise as well, for the most part. Scurrying across the ground allows you to see your small legs moving frantically beneath you, while a sprint button lets you cross distances fairly quickly.
Stepping in sticky blobs of things like honey will also give you the ability to stick to surfaces and climb vertically. You can’t go upside down, but this is where things can get a little finicky. Specifically, I found that the camera would do all manner of odd things as it struggled to keep up with my vertical antics.
One particular issue that seemed to happen constantly after a few hours of gameplay, was this glitch where every time I tried to climb something vertically, the camera would show what was behind me instead of what’s ahead, almost as if my head had spun around 180 degrees.
This made climbing incredibly difficult (but not impossible). As it was an issue that arose seemingly out of nowhere, I can’t imagine that it’s intentional. This is one of the pitfalls of platforming in first-person. It can be exciting in situations like this where you use perspective to make standard environments feel surreal and vast, but it can also introduce all manner of camera issues and problems with a restricted FOV.
Interesting Visuals Mixed With a Unique Perspective
Metamorphosis on PS4 is a visually striking experience, and your relative size as an insect makes for some truly unique gameplay. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite hook you in the way I would have liked, and the background dialogue from human characters only serves to distract instead of adding more to the story.
Those looking for an interesting and surreal adventure will find plenty to like about Metamorphosis, but if you typically expect an engrossing tale as well, you don't quite get that here. Still, the life of a bug is certainly an interesting one.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of Metamorphosis was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 8/17/2020