|Piranha Interactive Publishing, $49.95. Requirements: PowerPC, 8MB RAM, System 7.5, 4xCD-ROM. For more information, visit http://www.piranhainteractive.com/
Review by Dave Price
Morpheus begins with an introductory movie showing a melodrama of a noble, yet unusual nature. (Personally, I thought the movie was a little corny, but the storyline draws you in once you begin the game.) You are cast in the role of a son searching for answers to your father's disappearance in the Arctic. You get separated from your expedition and happen to find a mysterious ghost ship, the Herculania, which disappeared about the same time as your father. This same ship was vaguely mentioned in some rumor concerning your father.
Oh, but if it were only that simple! You quickly learn that something aboard this ship is not quite right. Upon entering, the first thing you see is a partially decayed corpse with a noose around its neck. From there you begin to follow a fascinating storyline entangled with the demented desires of a deformed scientist/inventor by the name of Jan.
As the story begins to unfold Jan seems to have sinister plans for the guests onboard his uncaring adopted father's new ship. To those aboard the Herculania, the ship was intended to provide great comfort; however, Jan's secret quest for retribution upon all those who have mistreated him, who happen to be the guests, leads to the further complication of the plot. As the plot unwinds, I found it important to go back and re-explore certain places. As you discover new things, new 'ghost scenes' become available. In order for the game to progress, it is necessary to continue exploration.
The game play is very Myst-esque except for the fact that the undertones of evil are far more overt and prevalent. (I don't recall any scenes in Myst or Riven where you fall on top of a corpse or you see someone forcefully anesthetized.) Basically, you wander around carefully examining an empty ship for clues and puzzles with the occasional sequence of ghosts appearing and unfolding further the complex storyline.
This game takes good advantage of QuickTime's VR. Every scene, aside from the short movie snippets (and the bathrooms in the staterooms), gives you a full 360º panoramic view. The use of Quicktime VR worked very smoothly on our 233MHz G3even with Virtual Memory enabled. In addition, the transitions when moving from one spot to another were realistic enough to simulate the appearance of moving from one place to another. In that respect, this reviewer found the game play in Morpheus to be much like Journeyman Project 3.
The game interface is very simple. When your cursor moves over a place where an action can occur, the cursor changes indicating the possible action. There is little need to carry around a vast inventory of items. (If a small object can be used, i.e. a key, the game assumes you took it and you can use it when you get to the right place. Some larger items can be carried one at a time.) I did find it necessary to takes notes while playing to aid in solving some of the puzzles. (Morpheus being of a genre that requires this.)
Morpheus is definitely for the player who enjoys exploration and has a tendency toward the darker sides of human nature. From the strange beginning storyline to the odd inventions and avant garde technology (for 1928, when the Herculania was built) aboard the ship, this game provides the puzzles, the intrigue, and opportunity for exploration that are essential to make a game of this genre great. Since the release of Myst, there have been many games that have sought to imitate this style of game. More often than not, these games failed to live up to that standard; Morpheus does.