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Biomorph could be the next must play MetroidVania | Hands-on preview

by on January 30, 2024
 

Over the last few years we’ve been getting so many sensational MetroidVania games, and as a site run by an entire team that love the genre we’ve been pretty damn happy, here. Whether you fell in love with the dark religious theme of Blasphemous 2, the crude world of Cookie Cutter or the islands in the sky of Vernal Edge, there was likely something from the genre you fell in love with in 2023. Well this year is looking like it will be no different (hello Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown) so games like Biomorph will need to find a way to stand out in the crowd.

In the build I played of Biomorph I was introduced to protagonist Harlo, an alien with amnesia who has two sentient hands she can talk to. In a world that has been all but ruined by a catastrophic event known as The Fall, Harlo is one of the few willing to leave the relative safety of Blightmoor and take on the monsters lurking out in the wider world. Admittedly a lot of this is self motivated as she keeps having flashbacks to her past and wants to discover more about herself, but who can blame her for that.

Immediately when playing Biomorph you’ll notice how good it feels to control Harlo, thanks to some super tight controls and a handy slide ability which involves turning into a liquid. That’s all you can do initially though, with no way to defend yourself whatsoever. It doesn’t take long to find a combat chip to equip though, and for the punching to begin.

A screenshot of Biomorph

Even in this demo that only lasted around an hour, I was given a nice selection of combat abilities to equip to three of my face buttons. The basic punch gives you access to a simple but satisfying three punch combo, but on top of that I found a ranged attack for shooting hard to reach enemies or switches and a hugely powerful blast attack that was slow to unleash but sent enemies flying. In the menus there are loads more weapon slots to fill too, so it look like there will be plenty of ways to beat up mutant creatures in the full game.

The main hook of Biomorph though is the fact that once you kill an enemy you can transform (or morph) into them and use all their helpful abilities. A big bull-like alien gives you access to a charge that can break through boxes and be used to fly over large gaps, and there are other monsters with ranged attacks that can be used to solve puzzles or with a body that’s immune to the deadly spikes of an area. Playing around with all the different transformations is really fun, and I can only imagine there are loads more interesting morphs waiting further into the game.

The general rule with the transformations is that you can play as the monster you’ve morphed into as long as you’re in the same room you killed it in. This changes though if you transform into the same monster multiple times though, because at a certain number you’ll unlock the ability to change into it whenever you want. This means you’re always incentivised to kill and morph into every enemy you see, and even when you’ve unlocked a new monster to change into you can power it up by beating up more of that specific baddie on your adventure.

A screenshot of Biomorph

The morphing is definitely the star of the show in Biomorph, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole load of other awesome mechanics in the game to dive into. Passive upgrades can be equipped and upgraded, side quests are available in the hub area, and by finding blueprints you can build and upgrade buildings in the city of Blightmoor to unlock new stuff. In the demo I was even able to unlock the ability to fast travel and was given a map that let me know if a specific room had any goodies left to find in it. Everything I love about the genre seems to be featured in Biomorph, and that makes me really excited for the full game.

After playing through the demo build of Biomorph I didn’t find a whole lot to complain about. I think that there are maybe a few too many larger open areas (especially in the Blightmoor Hub) and you don’t quite move fast enough to cross such a big empty space without the pace suffering. A few movement upgrades could resolve this entirely too, so hopefully that’s the case.

Based on the build I played I reckon there’s a good chance that Biomorph could be the next must play MetroidVania game that I’m sure to recommend to anyone who’ll listen to me. The hook of transforming into loads of different creatures is just wonderful, and it contains so many of the best elements of other MetroidVanias alongside that. It’s been a long time since a demo got me this excited for a full release, so I’m glad I only have to wait until March to play more.

Biomorph is coming to PC via Steam on March 4th. A demo is available now.