This weekend had been fairly unpleasant. I’d come down with something awful, sneezing and coughing like crazy as I lounged around trying not to infect every inch of my home and the people who share it with me. I was all but forced by my body to do nothing but lie in bed wondering what I’d done to the universe this time, as I cycled between barely conscious and hyper alert and all the while failing entirely to distract myself from whatever was ailing me.
I needed something to occupy my time and give me something to write about (which has become a rather therapeutic activity for me). Metamorphabet couldn’t have released at a better time.
I imagine I’d have enjoyed it whenever I decided to play it, but being cooped up inside for days with a rabid fever, it came as an even more potent concentration of pure joy and creativity that I desperately needed. Every screen bounced to life with enthusiastic wonder, creating scenes and characters and bizarre anomalies out of letters that become increasingly esoteric yet perfectly fit within the game.
And suddenly I was smiling and laughing, almost forgetting I was sick at all as I toyed with the shapes before me eagerly wondering what they might turn into next. I could barely talk because my nose and throat hurt so much, but if didn’t matter because I suddenly felt like I was a wide-eyed toddler let loose in a dreamland where clouds turn into dogs and an elephant balances atop the Earth.
In all honesty Metamorphabet should be more disturbing than endearing. Certain letters can take shockingly weird turns, sprouting animal heads from fingertips and having disembodied legs grow feathers and fly away. I think it manages to overcome its weirdness though by how it never so much as hints at a hidden layer of cynicism or unpleasantness.
Being a game focused around the alphabet it could be easy to get the impression Metamorphabet is a game for kids, but when I actually played it any doubts that I was the wrong audience immediately faded away. It doesn’t feel like a game that’s been hamstrung into something kids can play the way so many children’s games do, or that had all the life sucked out of it because its creators don’t care enough to create a kid friendly game worth playing.
If anything Metamorphabet goes out of its way to never box itself into a certain demographic. It’s full of the sort of universal love and joy that I can’t imagine anyone with half a heart wouldn’t find at least a little delightful regardless of their age. It introduced me to what I imagine my baby niece sees and feels when playing with simple blocks and stuffed animals, simple toys becoming outlets to unleash her imagination in a world that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense but is full of amazing things if only you could see them like she does.