Grant us eyes grant us eyes. Morbid is quick to throw its Souls-like inspiration at us, with its more Fallout-esc isometric view and anime-feel sprite designs. Yes, the Souls-like brand has been tarnished over the years, with plenty of soulless copycats, vein indie wannabes and triple-A buzzwords or journalists using the term to mean ‘hard’, but that’s not what Morbid is. It’s obvious that the developers were passionate about what they were bringing to the table, which is more than Lords of the Fallen.
Morbid is, as mentioned prior, a Souls-like title, with shrines to upgrade gear (a clear homage to bonfires), a wheel of familiar four slots, the typical limited healing items and gimmick of enemies that come back upon death. The beats of the series are there, just transplanted onto the isometric backdrop with shocking ease, to the same quality and care that Salt and Sanctuary did, albeit with 2D Metroidvanias. The boss fights are epic and grand in scale whilst the enemies provide that sweet interim challenge that makes the trek between health bars engaging. There’s also no need to grind out to keep momentum but doing so definitely helps.
With plenty taken from the Souls series, the most noteworthy inclusion is found in Morbid’s weapon design, with 25 on offer that all provide their own unique playstyles, whether that’s the swifter small blades of agile thieves or the more clunky and slow-moving hammers that deal crushing blows at the cost of stamina. The selection is fairly limited but diverse enough that the limitations aren’t glaring, which is perfect.
Top-down is an interesting take, and for the most part, it translates well. Howver, in the adaptation of a Souls formula onto an isometric canvas, part of the charm that comes with this camera style was lost. The twist is a treat, for sure, but that itch of tightly-knit, packed to the brim world design isn’t quite there which makes you crave for the classics like Fallout or the brand-new Baldur’s Gate sequel. There’s not a whole lot to be found, with everything feeling a touch barren, leaving the interaction to be very surface level with visuals coming first and foremost.
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Story / Personality
Naturally, with it being so similar to Souls, there’s that gaping feeling of why when playing through – why play a wannabe when Demon’s Souls just got remastered and offers that experience so many love with a next-gen coat of paint and shiny new baubles? Morbid ultimately depends far too much on its inspirations – it manages to blend genres and ideas to near perfection, which is absolutely worth noting, but it does little to sell itself as a new or fresh experience. The world design is truly interesting, but Bloodborne did Lovecraftian better and Dark Souls did dark fantasy better – as such, it does fall into the trap of remaining in the shadow of its inspirations, it’s just not blatantly hollow, riding on the coat-tails for clout like the aforementioned Lords of the Fallen. The passion and charm bleed out in the oodles, but there’s that definite feeling of little new being on offer.
That being said, the story is a captivating, drip-fed wonder. Show don’t tell is a phrase taken to the extreme much like Morbid’s inspirations, with a vague plot that compliments the world and adds value to the enemies, bosses, and environments rather than being the priority. Still, the narrative is there for those who care about why they’re hacking and slashing, rather than just getting down into the nitty gritty and cutting through the hordes. You play as Striver of Dibrom, a warrior whose entire purpose in life is slaughtering the Gahars. The rest of the puzzle pieces are found in books and documents, which makes it mostly optional for the lore-hungry scavengers out there. It’s a nice change of pace from indies that shove blatant exposition down your throat in not-so-well-engrained storylines.
Graphics / Art Direction
Dark Fantasy is a tough nut to crack – for every Baldur’s Gate, you have a gazillion Minotaur’s – but Morbid cracks that nut just in time for Christmas. Stretched out whales with their guts exposed and eerie environments that feel as beaten down as the bosses do tough and imposing, the Lovecraftian, horror-rich bleak vibes are sprawled out for all to see. Sure, the more human models feel a little bit on the RPG maker side, but the enemies and world are top-notch works of original beauty.
Final Score: 81%
Morbid has a beautiful world, a nicely teased story and responsively weighty combat that hooks you in with the bosses being the stickler that keeps you invested. However, it doesn’t offer anything standout over the game’s homages. Still, whilst it doesn’t offer much in the way of new value, it’s a nice alternative to slap on the Switch all the same with its hack and slash gutsy fun.
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