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Plasmorphosis

by Agnieszka Trzaska profile

Science Fiction
2022

(based on 6 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

Help a plucky rover complete its planetary research mission by studying alien lifeforms... and morphing them into brand new shapes and forms!


"Plasmorphosis" is a short game about exploration, with light puzzle-solving. Made for the Twine Sci-Fi Jam.


Game Details


Awards

49th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2023 edition)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A clever sci-fi Twine game about shapeshifting creatures, September 18, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is a nicely styled Twine game that is digestible in an hour or so. You play as a robot rover helping a damaged ai-driven (fictional AI, not chatgpt ai) spaceship to get repaired.

You discover a world with little slime creatures in it that can shapechange. You also have an inventory of items that can be used to alter the shapes of the creatures and things around you.

It's a fun concept, and the game is designed to be relatively mild and enjoyable. While some puzzles are tricky (I had to use the walkthrough because I got stuck), there's a lot of leeway to help you finish without having to solve everything. I stopped at 150 points.

I like the worldbuilding and inventory here. I didn't feel a need to revisit this game in the future, but I'm glad I played it. I came to try it because it showed up on the Interactive Fiction top 50 for 2023.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Research rover on a mission, December 25, 2022

You play as Rovie, a rover on a research vessel called the Curious Kitty. Daphne, the onboard AI, activates you to explain that the ship has crashed landed on the mission’s destination, planet Zephyria. Your task is to explore the landscape and gather research while Daphne repairs the ship.

Gameplay
Plasmorphosis allows the player to roam the planet freely like a parser game. It even maps the area with compass directions. This pairs well with the game’s theme of exploration. Between the Curious Kitty and the planet’s surface, there’s about a dozen rooms. Your goal: Study the planet.

You make progress by collecting research points with your scanner. The scanner can be used on lifeforms or alien objects/artifacts, such as carvings. To complete the game, you must accumulate at least 100 points. However, the planet does not have enough material to meet this quota. The player is required to get creative with the local ecosystem.

The planet is crawling with simple organisms called Zephyrian Protoplasm. Blobs… with shapeshifting properties. These critters transform when you touch them with different objects. For example, if you toss a (Spoiler - click to show) chunk of heat shielding at a Protoplasm, it turns into an *Oven-Safe Slime. Transformations come with unique properties that help you overcome obstacles. (Spoiler - click to show) The Oven-Safe Slime allows you to walk across the river of lava. Experimenting with different objects and properties is the main mechanic in Plasmorphosis. (*I kept expecting this to be Oven-Safe Slime™)

Gameplay relies on an inventory system. At the bottom of the screen is a drop-down (well, technically it is “drop-up”) menu of your inventory items. When an item is selected, it is applied to anything you examine. I wish the game would let you examine items in your inventory, but it’s not essential. There is also a database that keeps track of your research points and log entries for scanned items.

You can complete your mission and end the game after making 100 research points, but the game eagerly encourages you to continue investigating the planet for science. My final score was (Spoiler - click to show) 160/100 with 23 database entries. I believe that is the max. It was fun, finding ways to (Spoiler - click to show) enter inhospitable areas using random objects on Protoplasm.

Not all of it is seamless. There was a bug that kept me from starting over with reset progress even after I wiped my save files/autosave file. I had to do some backtracking to fully restart (author has now fixed this issue). Occasionally, character scenes were repeated. But nothing that really dulls the experience.

Story
This is not a story intensive game. The only backstory is that the mission is backed by Star Research Co. There is a feeling of the Company breathing down your neck about meeting your research quotas. Either that or Daphne is being overly dramatic. It’s hard to tell. I suppose there are some undertones about resource exploitation. For each entry the database lists ways the subject can be used for industry, including pharmaceuticals, robotics, textiles- I’m reading too much into this.

The mission is also about understanding the sentient life that once lived on the planet: Zephyrians (not to be confused with Zephyrian Protoplasm). Zephyrians were (Spoiler - click to show) insectoid creatures that once inhabited the city ruins. They were skilled in the arts and sciences, and different parts of their history can be observed throughout the game. You can figure out what happened to them by checking it out. There is no major story or plot twist, but it is quite interesting.

This game really makes you feel like an anthropologist. Or is the proper word xenoanthropologist?

Characters
There are only two characters (unless you count the Protoplasm) in this game: Rovie (you) and Daphne. The character quirk of the protagonist is that they do not speak in English, leaving it up to Daphne to translate everything for the player. This led to some charming exchanges.

“Great, you found it!” cheers Daphne.
“Beep?” you ask suspiciously.
“Oh, I'm just accessing your optical sensors,” the AI explains gleefully.

Characters certainly have their own personalities. I thought it was (Spoiler - click to show) humorous how the game briefly tricks the player into thinking that Daphne left the planet without them returning to the ship. It was a nice diversion in the gameplay.

Visuals
I would describe the visuals as a simple user-friendly design with a splash of colour. I especially liked the font and text colours for the title screen. Generally, the screen is black with white text. Room titles shown in orange. Links are conveniently colour-coded. Blue for exits, green for objects/scenery. Pop-up boxes are used to explain outcomes of an action, or dialog. Basic enough.

Final thoughts
The author has made multiple high-quality Twine games, and Plasmorphosis is no exception. It’s fun and upbeat with well-implemented puzzles that provide a challenge. It kept me busy for at least an hour.

I would not consider this to be a “kid’s game,” but its lighthearted content (dinosaur gummies, friendly AI- well, anyone can love this) can appeal to younger audiences who are familiarized with more technical Twine puzzles. I mean, there’s a ship called the Curious Kitty. That can leave an impression about the target audience. So, sure. Call it a kid’s game if you want. But if you enjoy Twine science fiction, give it a try.

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Plasmorphosis on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Plasmorphosis appears in the following Recommended Lists:

2023 - Top 50 short list by manonamora
Tentative list for the Top 50 IF of 2023 It will help me remember the games that really did an impact on me... bc I am terrible at remembering titles There is no ranking here. Also not complete. I will add more stuff before the deadline

Benevolent Computers by Kinetic Mouse Car
Sometimes it is the AI characters who leave the strongest impression whether they are the villain or your closest friend. This list will focus on the latter. This is a mix of AI PCs and NPCs. You either play as an AI with a noble purpose...

Twine games with free range of movement: A personal list by Kinetic Mouse Car
Free range of movement means the gameplay has parser qualities without the parser part. It allows you to wander around and interact directly with objects or talk to characters in your environment. This list does NOT require games to have...

Polls

The following polls include votes for Plasmorphosis:

Outstanding Science Fiction Game of 2022 - Author's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best science fiction game of 2022. Voting is anonymous and open only to...

Games for introducing teens and tweens to interactive fiction by albie
Looking for Twine games (ideally) that are appropriate for 10-16 year olds. Bonus points if it has an interesting/fun story or showcases some of the cool stuff that can be done with this medium. Thanks! :)

Outstanding Science Fiction Game of 2022 - Player's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best science fiction game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members....




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