Mortyr 1944-2093

In 2022, FBT travels to 1944 and 2093 in a game released in 1999.

The Past

Mortyr was one of those budget Quake clones that was released straight into the bargain bin. I remember Mortyr's time-travelling plot as logic-free but to play it was full of fun, a straight-shooting FPS with some pretty locations and an unforgiving playstyle, a Wolfenstein meets Bladerunner mashup. I think I remember it fondly, the fact that I still have my original disk from the 90s suggests I liked it - or maybe no second hand shop would buy it...

It seems to have been completely wiped from existence now, not even GOG carries it. It’s as if someone went back in time and erased it; but forget your futuristic digital platforms, armed with my disc and a barely functioning XP rig, it's time to go back in time.

Still a Blast?

In 2093, the Nazis have ruled since various allied defeats resulted in them winning WWII. Our hero discovers the Nazis have a time-machine up their sleeve which they used to alter events and win the war, then stay in power, so you sneak in and use it yourself, transporting back to 1944 when the Nazis suddenly started winning. Having righted that wrong you returned only to find the Future Nazis still in power, tooled up with laser-gun wielding soldiers and ED 209-style death machines, so you needed to put an end to them as well. But hang on, if I changed the past, surely the future should be… nevermind.

Time(travel) has not been good to Mortyr. This is more Wolfenstein than a Quake clone, and not just because it's mostly set in a Nazi Castle. There’s some lovely art design, especially in the churches with stained glass windows shining coloured lights over the action, the gothic castles, dark ruins and snow soaked locations that have a menace to them, but it’s a strictly linear who-has-the-most-bullets-wins sort of thing - and it’s rarely me.

We’ve got various German soldiers to dispatch, welding rifles, rocket launchers and flame-throwers, at least in the 1944 section. Back in 2093, it's all pulse rifles and ED-209 style mechs, but in both timeframes they’re idiots. How did they take over the world like this?

It is fun being back in the Quake-Clone era but retro only gets you so far; it’s toughness isn’t due to bad Nazis, it’s bad coding – either the sights are off or the hit-points only register when I’m aiming to the left, and the AI is non-existent; they just run toward you, firing their 100% accurate guns. German engineering I guess. I can clear out a room then a battalion of Nazis comes running out of it when an alarm goes off, or just appear behind you when you pick up a key. It’s games like this that really hammer home how classy Quake was.

It’s nice to span two time-frames but they’re completely unconnected; there’s a lot of unrealised potential there and it would have been more interesting to have each WWII mission include an optional objective that impacts the future, making 2093 easier/harder depending on what we did (destroying the ED-209 plans would be a start, those things are just unfair), it would have involved you a lot more to know you were lessening their grip. As it is, it’s just two mini FPS’ mushed together with a time-travel McGuffin.

Mortyr is a cheap shooter; the level design is like spaghetti, the AI is broken, you can’t aim, it uses cheap respawns for fights and the future portions look like a knock off of Doom 64 while 1944 looks like Call of Duty 1 on low settings. But I still kinda like it, its like a bad movie. I am in the minority though. On top of the universally bad reviews, it suffered a troubled production, a crowded release period and US stores’ hesitance to carry a game with Nazi imagery, all of which contributed to Mortyr disappearing; you can only find it on eBay or Abandonware sites nowadays.

But Polish developers Mirage didn’t set out to take down Infinity Ward or id, they just made the best game they could – they even gave it a sequel, which ignored the time-travel element. That was equally derided, but the first “Battlestrike” game was released as Mortyr III so the series has its fans. There’s some nice little moments like the false ID that gets you past Nazis without shooting, scripting that sees the last Nazi run off and return with reinforcements, and the bats swarming when you let off a shot in a courtyard; look past the bargain bin feel, and Mortyr is just a simple blast-fest, a game you have some fun with then forget as I did, and will again. Lock, load and look out behind you.