Your best friend is accused of a crime he doesn’t know, and you’ve transformed into a bug... What a day.
Travelling the world of Metamorphosis and absorbing the lore and characters I meet has been an enjoyable experience. From the point of view you are playing at, and the absurdity found within the narrative and art design, this is one strange journey.
Proper procedure dictates you should purchase this immediately or stay a bug forever.
Metamorphosis has been provided free by the publisher for the purpose of this review. This has in no way impacted my opinion and ratings.
One Kafka At A Time
Kafka’s literature is new to me, and going in blind is not my style, so I looked up his most popular work to get an idea of the themes I would be jumping into. I read about Metamorphosis of which the game shares a name with and also The Trial (you’ll see why later). To clarify, it's not necessary to read these to enjoy the game, I just like to admire and point at things while exclaiming “I know that reference!”
Let’s get into the story then, first off, although inspired by the novella Metamorphosis, it is very far from the plot of the book. The beginning is the same, sort of, waking up as a bug, but the rest is an amalgamation of Kafka's other work. You will see cameos of characters from many stories with your best friend Josef being from The Trial, a big part of the plot.
While you are incomprehensibly turned into a bug and must travel to the foreboding Tower to regain your human form, your friend is getting arrested for a crime that they won't explain.
If you are finding this all absurd, don’t worry, you’re meant to.
A confusing bureaucracy and characters constantly responsible for their self-suffering are a recurring theme in the books.
Just A Bug On The Wall
There will be some adjustment needed for this new experience. For one, the camera placement is very close to the ground, emulating the feeling of being on all six legs while traversing the expansive surroundings. It's almost maze-like with several vertical paths that take you to hidden nooks and crevices if you find the ever-useful glue or ink.
Luckily, there is a handy button for those times you get lost, zooming out to show you the level, where you are and any points of interest.
Primarily, we are playing a platformer game here.
There are elements of puzzle-solving, but with how simple they are, it is undeniable that the focus of your experience is to enjoy the story and discover more of the world as you explore.
The Tower Summons You
From the beginning, you are told by the administrator that to regain your human form, you must journey to The Tower. In good old Kafka fashion, it’s not explained why you transformed, who The Tower is and how this all happened, all that matters is that you follow the proper procedure.
The grand view of the human world towers over you with environments brilliantly textured and modelled, but the bug world is what surprised me with the details and concept.
You can see in numerous screenshots that there was a lot of care put into creating these environments to explore.
One small criticism I have is in the character design and dialogue. There are many curious characters to get to know, but I never found them memorable. Most of the dialogue revolved around setting up fetch quests, and personally, I wanted to learn more about this world beneath the floorboards, not push that button and turn that valve.
I wish I could say there is tremendous replay value with new characters to discover around each corner, but there isn’t. The game does, however, boast multiple endings depending on a few tough decisions towards the end, I won’t spoil it and will leave it for you to discover for yourself.
I really enjoyed exploring this hidden world full of bugs, seeing their homes and subtle hints of culture within posters and a few interesting characters. I can’t help but feel it could have been bigger, but for a studio of their size, it is incredibly impressive. The lighting, environment design and music are all top-notch. The dialogue is witty at points, and I did care for our Protagonist and the predicament he found himself in.
With what has been achieved, I look forward to what else Ovid Works will bring for us next. I can only imagine the ambitious scope they will accomplish.