On Metamorphabet


I first played Vectorpark’s Metamorphabet late last year while judging for the Independent Games Festival awards. It founds its way into my randomly assigned list of games requiring my assessment and was, easily, one of the standout games of the dozens that I played while judging. It’s a simple idea (interactive alphabet book) beautifully realised through intelligent animations and wonderful tactility and is something I really enjoyed playing with.

Each letter is its own little playground of stuff to explore and discover. Things start out quite normal but escalate to a Dr Seussian sense of carefully crafted absurdity as each new element converges with the previous (see the above example of a walrus in a wagon with wheels on the waves). The game never forces you forward, letting you hang out and just play with each letter’s vignette for as long as you want.

I just love the ease with which Vectorpark’s animation shifts from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, sometimes within the same letter. When the cone appears for ‘C’, you become suddenly aware of this third plane on which it can be spun around. It’s sudden and surprising, but intuitive and natural. The vast array of tactilities is remarkable, too, from the fluttery paper feeling of P’s pinwheel or the rickety click-clack of the walrus’s W-wagon, or the mechanical stomp of R’s robot.

I would love to sit down and watch a kid play through Metamorphabet with its self-directed sense of pacing and exploration, but as an adult who already knows his alphabet I still found the game so delightful just to explore and to look at and to touch. I don’t really have much in-depth to say about it other than it is lovely and I hope that you check it out if you have an iOS device.

Here is an interview with the designer.

Here is an earlier little lovely gamething they made called Spider, which I love and which also demonstrates the majesty with which Vectorpark combines the two- and three-dimensional.