STAFF REVIEW of Metrico+ (Xbox One)

Thursday, February 2, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Metrico+ Box art If someone told you that a good puzzle game premise would be running along info charts, pie charts and graphs, you’d probably roll your eyes like I initially did. Surprisingly, Metrico+ uses this concept as its background for a puzzle platformer that’s incredibly unique. The more mechanics that get introduced into the gameplay, the more difficult finding solutions to the puzzles become, but the more that’s going on, the more immersive the world becomes, which is part of its charm.

The game begins with your human looking character standing on a pure white backdrop. You are able to run and press different buttons. Things start to happen to the world, which is the game’s way of teaching you the controls, albeit in an abstract manner. As you make your way through the handful of worlds, your extremities slowly strip away, revealing a robotic skeleton underneath. I wish I could delve more into why this is, but there’s literally no narrative at all within, so it’s left up to you to figure out the who, what, where, and why.

Each world is filled with a dozen or so mini puzzles, and as you complete each one you’ll see your progress on the bottom of the screen in a sort of linear timeline. As you complete each world, you simply move onto the next. Where Metrico+ lacks in narrative and storytelling, it makes up for it in pure puzzle solving, even if the whole experience it a little short.

The catch to Metrico+, and what makes it so unique, is that all of your actions, from moving left and right, and even jumping, has a visual representation on the screen which needs to be used to progress and solve each puzzle. For example, to get to the right side of the screen where the exit is you may need to extend the walkway that you’re on, but it only extends when you walk to the left, so you’re tasked with figuring out how to walk left to extend the platform, but you still have to walk to the right to progress, as it will extend and shorten in real time based on your input.

This is just one simple example, but eventually you’ll have multiple layers of input making the world around you react in different ways, and you need to keep track of how each action morphs the world allowing you to reach your goal. Your movements need to be precise and with purpose, and you’ll easily get through a world or two without many issues, but eventually you’ll hit a brick wall of difficulty seemingly out of nowhere.

Experimentation is a theme surrounding Metrico+, and even though the world around you is experienced in a side scrolling 2D view, you’ll need to constantly test what works and what doesn't to figure out what each action’s reaction is. Each world adds a new gameplay element to the mix, making each puzzle more and more complex as you progress. Nothing is thrown at you without some sort of ‘training’ beforehand, but it’s up to you to meld all of your teachings beforehand together.

As I’ve said, you need to experiment, as each puzzle is solved in seemingly a unique way. In one puzzle jumping may move a platform up or down, but in the next, it may move it left or right instead. There’s no single input master key list, as it’s always changing, which makes for the bulk of the challenge. Eventually a single input will move multiple ledges or platforms, adding even more difficulty, but that’s half of its charm, as it’s always changing and evolving.

Each puzzle feels unique and different, and even though you’re simply going through a checklist of puzzles in each world with no overarching reason, the types of puzzles are diverse. It never becomes stale as you’re always trying to figure out the new way to each solution. The environment also changes with your actions, keeping things interesting in an otherwise sterile world. Having graphs raise and fall, or platforms move, based on your actions is what happens in the foreground, where your focus is, but take the time to look around and you’ll notice that many smaller reactions happen in the background as well.

Metrico+ employs a great soundtrack with some uplifting beats that never became tiresome, even when stuck on a single puzzle for an extended time. The puzzles and mechanics are the stars of Metrico+ though, and there are even collectibles that add a whole other layer of challenge should you be so inclined. If you’re quite adept at puzzlers, the game will be quite a short experience, but if you’re like me, you’ll get a good half dozen hours out of it, trying to make your way through all the worlds.

While Metrico+ may be a short experience for some, and a longer one for others, it’s challenging, addicting, and somewhat high quality. Whenever you become stuck, there’s obviously one little detail you’re simply not seeing or understanding, but once you do, you get that “ah hah!” moment, leading you to the solution and a feeling of accomplishment. I do wish it had more replayability; however, I did enjoy my time with it, even without a narrative. Sure, there’s not much of any context as to what’s going on, or why, but Metrico+ is a distinct experience that should be had by puzzle fans, even with the noted shortcomings.

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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