Morpheus Download (1998 Adventure Game)

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Playing Morpheus is like walking through an old and scary abandoned house and the mystery unfolds with each step you take through a strange abandoned ship. Beginning as a rather colorless and desolate journey, the intelligent storyline and interesting theme evolves into a vibrant and magical atmosphere, despite a few graphical errors.

Trapped in the cold, you come across a ship with locked doors and must find a way in or freeze to death. With few items to manipulate in the environment, you eventually discover an entrance on the upper deck. The actual steps required to gain entry can be frustrating due to a trial and error method of solving the problem. The beginning serves notice, though, that to figure out the mystery you must investigate all surroundings and pay close attention to messages where possible. The captain's log contains a rough clue as to what's happening.

As the game advances, you're immersed in the very strange plight of the Herculania. Although Morpheus takes place on the boat itself, you travel to dream worlds through the use of a Neurographicon. By searching the ship, you find three-digit codes to each passenger's cabin, collect a vial of fluid to use with the machine and start a journey to a dream world that is completely unique to the person's serum.

The four dream worlds each contain three puzzles that must be solved in order to leave. The sky is the limit as far as the scenery goes in each dream and, consequently, the sequences replace the simple view of the ship and surrounding ice with entertaining and flourishing environments. For instance, when you use Belle Swan's serum, you enter a dream world that takes place in a lavish sultan's palace where you solve puzzles, such as putting paintings in the correct order, to get three special feathers and end the dream.

Ghosts appear at various spots throughout the ship while you're solving puzzles and help you understand what befell the Herculania through video sequences over which you have no control. As examples, the first ghost is Dr. John Malherbe, a passenger who hangs himself at the center of the boat, an old woman in a rocking chair and a strange man in the dark. As you power up the ship and discover new clues, the ghost scenes get more complex and begin to involve dialogue. At one point, you witness an intense argument between Dr. Malherbe and Jan, the facially deformed creator of the Neurographicon.

Gameplay in Morpheus utilizes a typical mouse point-and-click system for item interaction and click-and-hold for viewing the environment (full 360-degree turns). When the cursor becomes an arrow, you click once for forward movement. Unlike other games in the genre, there is no inventory and solving puzzles requires selecting various items in proper sequence. The QuickTime version included on the CD doesn't work particularly well and a download of the latest version is recommended prior to running the game, which should improve the low quality video and occasional audio issues. A color glitch problem seems to be correctable by watching at least part of the beginning movie before you play.

There is no dialogue or interaction with other characters in this totally solitaire adventure. Quiet sounds and random noises emphasize scary actions and talking ghosts permeate the air throughout the boat. Morpheus is a no-action game that won't appeal to gamers who don't have the attention span or patience required to solve the puzzles by repeatedly revisiting the same areas.

The primary allure of the game is the mysterious storyline that begins when you discover the ship frozen in the middle of the ice. You go from knowing absolutely nothing to unraveling a complex story involving a technological venture gone terribly wrong. The dream worlds add variety needed to quench the boredom of only being able to travel around the boat itself and it's an interesting game throughout. It doesn't have any sustained boring periods unless you get stuck on one of the many puzzles.

Graphics: Downloading the most recent version of QuickTime is essential to viewing the slick scenery. Some errors in graphics are evident but overall they're nicely done. The ghosts are fun to watch and turning on the lights in the boat will treat you to a very colorful environment.

Sound: The game uses a minimalist approach to its sound track and you won't notice subtle sounds unless something exciting happens, which adds tension to the mystery.

Enjoyment: The storyline is the highlight and sole reason to play Morpheus. It's not for action lovers but the spooky theme is very entertaining. Most puzzles aren't too difficult and there's good variety to the dream levels.

Replay Value: Beating the game once unveils all the puzzles; there's no reason to replay other than to experience the story a second time.


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