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Biomorph Review: A Metroidvania with a Saturday Morning Cartoon Vibe

Platform reviewed: Steam

Also on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S

Price: $19.99

At PAX West in 2023, Biomorph emerged as one of the standout games, capturing one of our Best of PAX East awards. The animation captivated me, the combat mechanics were seamless, and the novel method of acquiring enemies' abilities was impressive. I'm pleased to report that these features have carried over into the final version flawlessly. Biomorph combines the charm of a Saturday morning cartoon with the engaging gameplay of a top-tier Metroidvania.

The first thing that stands out is the stunning artwork. From the breathtaking cutscenes to the characters and their fluid movements, it feels like watching an animated series come to life. The story itself is interesting - it follows the protagonist, Harlo, as they awaken from being frozen in a crashed spaceship. With no memory of what transpired, Harlo discovers their frozen friend, Kleio, and as they unravel the mystery, their memories start to return in fragments. Determined to free Kleio and uncover the truth, Harlo embarks on a journey filled with unexpected allies - including talking fists eager for action at every turn.

My primary critique of the story would be its predictability, though I wouldn't say that this significantly diminishes the game's overall enjoyment. On the contrary, the narrative's conclusion surprised me with several diverging pathways. Moreover, the decisions to be made carry substantial weight. While I don’t think there's sufficient depth to warrant a second play-through, I appreciate the significance of the choices presented.

The combat system in Harlo also caught my attention. It's incredibly smooth, and any mistakes made were solely due to my actions. One standout feature is the variety of tricks Harlo can use to navigate through the stages. Equippable items called Chips can be found or bought, each with their own unique abilities. These Chips typically have a cooldown or limited use before needing to be replenished at a save point. From ranged attacks to force fields, the options are diverse. Additionally, Mementos are passive abilities that can be equipped, offering benefits like faster healing or increased damage output. 

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the game is Harlo's biomorph ability. This skill allows Harlo to scan and transform into most of the enemies encountered. The ability to morph into these creatures is often essential for navigating challenging landscapes or unlocking new areas. What sets this ability apart is that the more frequently Harlo adopts a particular monster's form, the stronger they become in that guise, gaining the freedom to shift into that shape at will. However, a notable caveat is that as Harlo grows stronger in a certain form, the corresponding monsters encountered subsequently will also grow stronger.

Like any well-crafted Metroidvania game, there are numerous areas that Harlo cannot access until they acquire certain abilities. One interesting mechanic in the game involves repairing the town to unlock new areas. By discovering blueprints to construct shops or labs, Harlo is able to progress further in their journey. This innovative approach to exploration adds a clever layer of depth to Biomorph's gameplay.

The game presents a challenge, particularly when it comes to boss battles, which require recognizing and adapting to the various boss patterns. There were instances when frustration crept in, directed mostly at myself but also the trial-and-error nature of these confrontations. I never defeated a boss on my first attempt. For those who relish a challenging experience, the boss battles will certainly be a highlight.

Final Grade: B+

There’s a lot to love about Biomorph. The animation is stellar, and the cutscenes feel like something right out of a Saturday morning cartoon. The combat is the game's highlight, with the morphing aspect the centerpiece. Those who enjoy challenging Metroidvanias will certainly love Biomorph. 

Review code provided by Vicarious PR


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