Morkredd Review: Fear The Darkness
Although Morkredd only runs for a few hours, it doesn’t take long for you to get absorbed into its haunting world. That’s not to say it’s a horror game (far from it), but there’s an eerie feeling to its dark world, one that pervades every aspect of its design. From the disturbing final stage to the constant feeling that someone is watching you, Morkredd is a fascinating puzzle game in which light is your only salvation.
The object of Morkredd is simple enough – guide a glowing orb of light to the end of each stage. You’re in control of two characters at once (neither of which are given names) and learning how to move both at the same time has a pretty steep learning curve. The early levels don’t throw any elaborate puzzles at you, giving you time to figure out the best way to control your players and avoid all the obstacles in your path. The biggest obstacle you’ll face? Your own shadow. If either of your characters walks into a shadow they’ll die instantly, sending you back to the nearest checkpoint. You’ll die a lot, too, so it’s great that Morkredd liberally scatters checkpoints after every puzzle.
While walking into your other characters shadow is the biggest enemy in the early stages, it becomes the least of your worries towards the final hour of the game. The glowing orb you’re pushing around is usually the only source of light in the room, but it also casts shadows of everything in your surroundings – many of which are constantly moving.
A puzzle towards the middle of the game had me pushing the orb with one player while navigating a narrow bridge with the other. In between the two characters were various columns, moving up and down at regular intervals. If I pushed the orb too quickly, I’d accidently cast a shadow of the column onto my other character, sending them to an early grave. Move the orb to slow, and there’s not enough light for them to move across the bridge. Everything in Morkredd relies on proper timing – something made more difficult by the fact you’re controlling two characters at once.
The game isn’t all about pushing a ball down a hallway, though. At various points you’ll board a sailboat, be given immunity to the darkness, and even have the orb stolen away entirley. Morkredd does a wonderful job of changing up the action before you get bored, and I was always wondering what surprises were just around the corner. The best moments of the game are in its final minutes, where dozens of new concepts are thrown your way and the core elements all start to come together. Proper timing, efficient manipulation of your environment, and keeping your two characters in sync are paramount to your success.
Despite having no dialogue throughout the entire three-hour journey, Morkredd has a surprisingly deep world to explore. Along the way you’ll discover ancient paintings on the walls around you, which slowly unravel the narrative and the reason for your attachment to this glowing orb. Much of the story is also told during cinematic reveals of the environment – Morkredd’s version of cutscenes. One moment you’ll be walking across a bridge, with the camera zoomed in and focused on your players. Then, the view will slowly pan out, revealing a massive snake-like creature coiled up under the bridge. This happens quite often during the journey, giving you a sense of scale and making you feel like a small piece of a larger puzzle. The final level puts in all into perspective and – if you’re paying close attention during the rest of the game – you might be able to see the last twist coming.
Morkredd is also playable as a co-op experience, although I don’t think that will make your job much easier. Trying to coordinate intricate movements between two players requires a nuanced approach to communication, and I found it much easier to play through it as a solo experience. When movement of just a few inches can be the difference between life and death, trying to convey your thoughts to another player can sometimes be more of a hinderance than anything else.
My short time with Morkredd was unsettling, frustrating, and – ultimately – enjoyable. It does an excellent job of slowly ramping up the action, culminating in a final level that is both challenging and thrilling, even though it’s drastically different from the rest of the game. The early levels were a bit of a slog, as you need to wrap your head around the controls before diving into the meat of the experience, but once it clicks there’s a lot of fun to be had. As chilling as the story is, I wish there was more for me to experience after the credits roll. Morkredd left me with a lot of questions, but there’s not a lot of replay value beyond discovering a few paintings you missed on your first go-round.
A PC copy of Morkredd was provided to TheGamer for this review. Morkredd is available now for PC.
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Jon Bitner is an Associate Editor for TheGamer. His passion for gaming started with his first console (Sega Genesis) and he hasn’t stopped playing since. His favorite titles include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Team Fortress 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Pokémon Sword & Shield, Old School Runescape, Skyrim, and Breath of the Wild. He can usually be found playing the latest RPG, FPS, or some obscure mobile game. Before working as Associate News Editor, Jon earned a Biology degree and worked in the Biotechnology sector — experiences that taught him how to put words together and make sentences. When not playing or writing about the gaming industry, he enjoys sleeping, eating, and staring at birds.
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