REVIEW: ‘Metamorphosis’ Fluidly Interprets a Literary Classic (PS4)

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Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis, developed by Ovid Works and published by All In! Games for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, is a surreal first-person adventure game based on the classic Franz Kafka novella, The Metamorphosis. As a Czech-American, The Metamorphosis has always been required reading since Kafka is from Prague, so I was both surprised and delighted to see how fluidly Ovid Works managed to transform the story of Gregor Samsa into such a creative, artistic, and atmospheric puzzle-based adventure game.

In Metamorphosis, you play as Gregor Samsa who wakes up at his friend Josef’s house after a party to discover that he has been turned into a bug. To return Gregor to his human form, you must solve puzzles and make your way to the Tower, a secret, suspicious bug organization, and do their bidding to prove your loyalty.

The game alternates between puzzle-solving and platforming, taking advantage of Gregor’s small size to create interesting challenges based on everyday objects. The sense of scale in Metamorphosis is simply incredible – having to climb over pencils, jump onto books, and scurry over cabinets just to get around truly makes you feel like a tiny bug who has an enormous disadvantage in his quest to return to normal.

Metamorphosis

Sometimes, unfortunately, Metamorphosis achieves its sense of scale a little too well. There were quite a few times, especially toward the end of the game when the environments become larger and more absurd, that I got vertigo from looking around and trying to figure out where to go next. I definitely appreciated how well the developers incorporated the idea of feeling small, even though it was personally uncomfortable on occasion. Additionally, the music really helps with the general atmosphere. The soundtrack isn’t present all the time, but when a new piece kicks in, usually at some important plot point, it manages to really capture the sentiment of the moment.

However, the story itself isn’t completely easy to understand. Even after beating the game, I’m still not entirely sure how everything connects. Essentially, there are two different storylines–one of Gregor traveling to the Tower and one of Josef being arrested by the police. Toward the end of the game, these storylines merge together but not in a very cohesive way since most of Josef’s storyline is told in background dialog while you’re platforming or puzzle-solving and has a tendency to be too quiet or not play altogether.

On top of this, I was never sure if my occasional difficulty with the dialogue was a result of game design or because of how the game was running on my PS4 Pro since I also did have trouble with Metamorphosis stuttering frequently. There weren’t any game-crashing bugs, but the game had issues running when new levels were loading and would stutter or freeze for a few seconds.

Overall, though, Metamorphosis is a creative, albeit short, video game interpretation of Franz Kafka’s novella. The game absolutely nails the creepy, absurd vibe of the story all about turning into a cockroach and trying to work as a bug. Metamorphosis is a fun, narrative experience, especially for those who are fans of classic literature.

Metamorphosis is out now Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.


Metamorphosis
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Metamorphosis is a creative, albeit short, video game interpretation of Franz Kafka’s novella. The game absolutely nails the creepy, absurd vibe of the story all about turning into a cockroach and trying to work as a bug. Metamorphosis is a fun, narrative experience, especially for those who are fans of classic literature.