Morpheus by Soap Bubble Productions
Morpheus was released in 1998 without much fanfare, from an unknown company. For all that, it did manage to become known to the adventure community, since it is a very well designed and intriguing game. Let’s get a closer look at it.
You play the part of Mathew Holmes. The opening sequence finds you lost somewhere in the frozen wastes of the Arctic ocean, recalling the events that lead you here. 25 years ago, your father was part of an expedition set to explore the pole. One day, they found a half dead man who told your father a strange story about a ship, the Herculania. Your father soon decided to leave the rest of the company and search for her. He never came back. You have been obsessed with the manner of his death ever since, and now that you are a grown man, have come after the ship yourself, hoping to find out what could have possibly driven your father to such a mad venture. Yet now it seems you are about to share his fate, but just when it looks like all is over, the storm lets up and you can see the outline of a ship in the distance. You soon discover that she is indeed the Herculania. Your quest for the ship has ended, but the one for the uncovering of her secrets and the incredible power of the Neurographicon has only just begun... As you progress, you will be witness to a story about the quest for love, the hunger for revenge and the seeking of redemption in a world where dreams never die.
The graphics are very well done. The abandoned ship is detailed and very varied, with a large staircase that reminded me of the one in Titanic, a ball room and even a greenhouse, to name but a few. It is the dreamworlds that give the artists a chance to show off though; From a carnival fair and a tropic island to an old Irish town and a Sultan's palace (my favorite) they have given scenery rich in detail, colour and imagination. The video sequences are of good quality, among the best of those that use QuickTime technology. I do have a complain though; during the transitions from one place to another, the graphics get a bit blurry- not uncommon to games of that time, but it has been largely eliminated since it was released, and so it is more noticable now.
The sound quality is also high. The music nicely complements the action and is appropriate to the setting in which it plays, and there are a couple of memorable tunes. Sound effects are effective ,with wind howling around the ship and fitting mechanical sounds to the various gadgets
Morpheus is a first person point and click adventure. You can rotate by 360 degrees in each location, by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the pointer. If you find something you can examine, the mouse will change into a looking glass, a pointed arrow for an exit and a strange looking cursor (it reminded me of a golden talisman most of all) for a comment. You perform the action by left clicking. There is no inventory to speak of; in the rare moments you will carry an item (never more than one needed) your cursor simply changes into it. The control panel is accesible by a button at the bottom of the screen, where you can save and load (unlimited slots). One flaw which I consider serious in any game is the lack of subtitles for the dialogue. Apart from that, the interface is very easy to use and will cause no problems.
Morpheus is based on one thing and one thing only, observation. You will find no music puzzles, no sliders, no mazes in this one. You will not need to combine items in inspired ways and then stand upside down whistling to open the [blip] door, nor will you run errands for a host of characters to get a much needed clue. Everything you need to know is already there, in your surroundings, waiting for you to see it. It is not nearly as easy as it sounds though- especially in the dreamworlds you must carefully consider every bit of information, as well as understand the character of the dreamer. This is one game where taking careful notes pays. The solution is never illogical- I used a walkthrough only once during the game ,for a puzzle in Grace's dream which I still cinsider to be a bit far-fetched. Even that is based on logic, it was just too outside-the-box for me. The atmosphere of the game is great. It has elements from the 7th Guest and Amber: Journeys Beyond. The abandoned ship that is strangely intact after all this time generates an eerie and forlorn feeling, and the visions of the past intensify it. This is not a game to cheer you up, but it does immerse you in a moody and unforgettable world.
Overall, Morpheus is an adventure that will offer many thrills to anyone who will play it; it has excellent design, great plot , and an engrossing and beautiful world. I recommend it for anyone who likes immersive games and who is just a bit tired of arbitrary solutions, action sequences and illogical puzzles.