Welcome to Metrico, a city of exploration and discovery. Grab your PlayStation Vita and let’s take a tour through the city! Keep your wits about you and your mind open at each stop. We’ll spend some time in each borough to understand its inner-workings. Thanks to the meditative melodies of Dutch synthesizer composer Palmbomen, you can leave your headphones on throughout the trip. Have fun and remember, we’re tracking you!
In Metrico, the Vita’s myriad inputs are put to use as you make your way through a world governed by infographics. The title itself seems like it is triply meaningful: A Metro is a method of public transportation; metrics are a form of numerical or statistical analysis; and the name as a whole sounds like a town or city. You play as a faceless, raceless male or female (the game asks you to choose a gender at the outset) that looks surprisingly similar to the falling figure in Digital Dreams’s logo. Identity – who you are – is not as important in this game as what you do and how you do it. In Metrico, platforms are manipulated by button presses, Vita tilts, and more. The game’s major puzzles make up the equivalent of stages, which in turn are grouped into the gaming equivalent of worlds. Metrico presents these basic fundamentals in a new way – Each major puzzle is a stop on what soon reveals itself to be a subway map of a city.
I like to think of each ‘world’ as a neighborhood with its own special flavors. As you plod through the first neighborhood, you find that button presses affect more than just your avatar. The X button causes your anonymous figure to jump, sure, but it also raises a platform in the distance. Running to the right might lower another platform, while falling affects yet another object. In the grand pursuit of progressing to the right, you’ll have to consider exactly how to use – and misuse – these statistical rules. For example, travelling rightward by only jumping prevents the aforementioned platform from dipping too low. Now you can make it to the elusive edge of the screen! Throughout much of the first neighborhood, a speech bubble follows your character that reports your X and Y axes. This display of what’s usually background information grants the player a peek past the veil of programmed code into the inner-workings of games in general. On that front, Metrico is astounding; inviting players to find loopholes in order to solve preconceived puzzles. As you progress through the different neighborhoods in Metrico, you’ll start to become more aware of the Vita’s vast features.
Metrico has the player thinking about his/her actions much more. Tilting the Vita to the left may cause a platform to rise, while tilting it to the right causes it to fall. Another platform may move horizontally if you tilt the top of the Vita toward you. Later on, you’ll encounter respawning puzzles that are reminiscent of Braid. There are also some ‘enemies’ and a shooting mechanic that uses the rear touch pad as an aiming tool. Memorable moments include a puzzle that required me to completely spin my Vita around in order to make a platform accessible. The back camera detects light and later color to mess with more objects in the world. For instance, pointing your camera at a red object then holding the square button may move a platform in the up-right direction. Pointing the camera at a blue object may move it up-left. Finally, a green object might move the platform straight down. It’s a brain-tickling, solution-juggling game of trial and error. Some puzzles felt like unadulterated discovery and exploration, two feelings difficult to correctly simulate in a game.
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One of Metrico‘s greatest attractions is its music. Think rymdkapsel meets Sound Shapes and you’ll have a preliminary idea of what’s in store for your earbuds. The game visually suggests that you wear headphones while playing. I’m giving you the same suggestion, but in writing. Now you have no excuse. Wear headphones while you play. The background noises and music immensely aid immersion into the game. With my headphones off, I found a noticeable spike in my frustration and distraction levels. During loading screens and in between puzzles, the framerate drops a bit and the game gets choppy. These minor graphical flaws also broke the suspension of immersion from time to time. In addition, triggers didn’t work once or twice, leading to especially confounding and impossible to solve puzzles. I had to reset on those occasions.
Much of what makes Metrico fantastic is creating the feeling of puzzlement then surmounting it by making use of our inherent curiosity as humans. How does this work? What if I do that? Why is this particular object moving? It performs the puzzle game balancing act beautifully – not tipping too far toward confusion nor too far toward ease. It’s a game about rule bending and creative problem solving. There is a decent amount of replayability in the fact that the puzzles are complex enough to illicit confusion the second and third times around. Each neighborhood contains three collectible items that are earned by creatively manipulating platforms; solving a puzzle within a puzzle without the intention of progressing past it. Something else I noticed is that the game is collecting meta-data as you play through it. At the end of each neighborhood, you must make a choice between two doors. A pie chart in the background depicts what percentage of people chose the door on the left vs. the door on the right. At these points in the game, the critical player will realize that the problem is choice. Will you flow with the majority or struggle against the current? Welcome to Metrico, a city of exploration and discovery.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Pure discovery in play
- Creative use of system features
- Meditative music
- Puzzles within puzzles
What I Dislike:
- Framerate drops between puzzles and on loading screens