Review: Metrico (PSV)

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Title: Metrico
Format: PlayStation Network Download (677 MB)
Release Date: August 6, 2014
Publisher: Digital Dreams Games
Developer: Digital Dreams Games
Original MSRP: $13,99 (US), €12,99 (EU)
ESRB Rating: E
Metrico is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
Metrico is a puzzle platformer inspired by infographics. The world is constantly changing based on the player’s interaction in that world through running, jumping, and even death. For example, in one level, running towards the exit made a bar graph rise and block your path so in order to pass this roadblock you must find a way to make it to the exit without running since running is the data collected by the bar graph. This meant many of the levels required some early experimenting in order to find out what different actions had an effect on the level.

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With each world Metrico introduces different mechanics and ways you can influence the world. Mechanics such as a checkpoint system, which will reset the world when hitting Circle, make many of the puzzles multi-leveled, requiring thought on each as you progress and reset the level as a way to continue your progress. Other important mechanics such as enemies and a fresh start mechanic are also introduced and combined make Metrico a refreshing take on platformers with an interesting premise and solid platforming which is fantastic for the first two-thirds of the game.

Where Metrico falters a little is the when the game takes advantage of the Vita’s other features like the Gyroscope and Camera. The later worlds of Metrico have the player turning the Vita side to side and back and forth to move around platforms and complete puzzles. This part of the game is okay, but from time to time led to clumsy feeling platforming as it becomes easy miss jumps or takes a couple minutes to figure out “oh the game wants me to move the Vita around now.”

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The implementation of the Vita’s Camera also leaves something to be desired. Its use comes with little explanation, which is a theme in the game, and with not having much idea on what to do with it you are left to experiment a bit before finding out the Camera is looking for a light source to change the environment in the game. The use of most of the Vita’s features is admirable, but it does sour the momentum a bit in what was one of the better platformer and puzzle games I had played in a while.

The gameplay overall is solid and just stumbles a bit when it introduces new mechanics. The problem may stem from the game’s simplistic aesthetic and choice to let the player experiment rather then just outright telling them what to do which is a trend in 2014 that I like, but can on occasion lead to frustrating moments. There were a few times where I was completely stumped on what the puzzle needed from me and though I eventually figured it out I wondered if a hint system would have helped.

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Visuals:
Metrico is a beautiful game with a stripped down art style that uses basic colors and shapes with the character being nothing more than a silhouette. The game matches color palettes in a stylized manner that really makes each level pop and feel different even though the mechanics and environment do not change dramatically from world to world. When seen in motion, the game looks fantastic and blends well with the music.

Audio:
The soundtrack, which was composed by Dutch artist Palmbomen, is a perfect match for the game’s art style and pace. It is best described as a relaxed electronic synth mix. It usually builds as the levels progress and the player’s interactions change or trigger certain elements in the music. Overall it’s fantastic and I could not imagine a better soundtrack for this game.

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Online/Multiplayer
The game is single player only, but does have a mysterious online element. At the end of each world the player is left with two doors to choose from and above the player’s head is a pie chart showing what other players have chosen. With little to no information on what the door decision means, players are left to decide which to choose from. Will you go with the majority or go through the path less traveled? It is an interesting idea and despite it seemingly having no ramifications it did make me think each time, especially when the pie chart would show one door being more popular than the other.

Conclusion:
While it has solid platforming, great art, and a fantastic soundtrack, Metrico stumbles a bit as it tries to incorporate more features and squeeze every ounce out of the PlayStation Vita, but it does not hurt the overall experience too much. The game’s puzzles are challenging and it does not hold your hand through them so when a puzzle is finally solved a good sense of accomplishment is felt. Metrico is worth a shot and something Vita players should be happy with since it was built specifically for the system.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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