Have you ever dreamt of running over graphs, jumping between charts or manipulating company percentages? Well, Metrico will be a dream come true to you. Metrico is an odd game which is a puzzle platformer based upon infographics. Only a company statistician could come up with something as crazy as this.
You play as a silhouette of a man or woman (your choice) whose sole goal is to keep running right - no they are not named Mario! Along the way there are many puzzles which are based upon various objects which you would find on infographics, such as pie charts. It is very much like echochrome for its puzzles as you will constantly find yourself either standing still and working the solution out logical or just go for the good old trial and error. There is no difficulty curve. In fact I would say it is rather brutal. The games only shows you briefly what certain buttons do but it offers no hints at all in how you should complete a level. At one point I honestly think I solved a puzzle using dumb luck. THis is where Metrico shines best - the puzzles may be difficult at times but when you complete them either “correctly” or just by luck, you feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Interacting with the infographic environment varies from stage to stage. You will start with you basic platforming; running jumping and some more running. As the levels evolve more elements are added. One of the most frustration ones are the counters and the X and Y axis bars. These are like the bars you find in a standard graph only they are manipulated by what you do in a level. For example one could grown by jumping and one could move left and right depending on which way you move. To add even more confusion to some puzzles are checkpoints. Basically they allow you to reset the current puzzle if you get stuck Trust me, they may help you but what it really means is that you are going to mess up many times before you solve the final solution. Sometimes you will get a lot of checkpoints on the screen at once and this indicates that they are part of the puzzle. As you move past them you activate that one to go back to. The screenshot below shows this in action. Basically all the bars (with percentage marks) start at 0% and move up as you jump. So you jump over the first one and the second now is too high. To solve this you would need to move to the second checkpoint marker and reset from there. What this does is move all the bars back to 0%. It is really clever feature which adds a greater depth to the puzzles.
One addition to play I thought was really clever is the ability to shoot enemies. Yes even infographics have enemies! In some sections you have to kill them to just progress but in some cases you shot count is linked to the bars which I mentioned earliest. Most of them increase as you fire allowing to access the end of a puzzle section meaning if you fire one too many shots you may find yourself stuck and having to reset the puzzle. Fun times but you learn from that mistake. This is the heart of Metrico; learning from your mistakes.
I have played some tough games which are meant to be but they make it fun. They offer variety in ways to complete levels. This is just tough to test you. You will find yourself going around in circles trying the same thing over and over as they is only one way to solve a puzzle. Other titles like this over different paths and rewards for creativeness. This just punishes you over and over again.
I will admit, I became stuck many times and had to just put it down as it started to really get to me. I vowed that I would never touch it again but you will think about the level and ways in which you could solve it. It will draw you back and when I returned to the level I would (most of the time) solve it within a few goes.
As you would expect the presentation is very sharp and eye catching, just like the subject in which it is trying to pull across. Each of the six worlds offers something different to look at, whether it be a simple colour scheme change or the introduction of new infographic elements, thus adding a new level of difficulty. It is very inoffensive to look at and this goes the same for the soundtrack too. It is very mystical and helps you to get lost within the puzzles. It recommends you to play with headphones and I totally agree. The games wants you to be absorbed by it all. You really need all of your brain power and having 100% concentration really helps this. During those difficult times chaos could be happening around you in real life but it it will not matter as the game will have you. It does a great job at that.
My only real gripe with Metrico are the controls. I understand that the Vita is very unique with how many inputs it has and there have been very little games that take full advantage of them. Metrico on the other hand have tried to squeeze all the inputs and it can become very messy. A perfect example is the controls for firing your weapon. At first you can only fire in the direction which you are facing by touching the front screen. This is ok but with this set up you cannot run, jump and shoot at the same time. No big issue as there are no places where this combination is needed. The issue arises though when it introduces how you can aim your fire. At the point you are only using the left analog stick to move, a few face buttons and the touch screen. So your natural go control for aiming would be the right analogue stick. Right? You could not be more wrong. To aim you have to use the back touch pad. Yes, you heard right. So now to aim we have to use the back pad and to fire you have to touch the front screen. Believe me, during some tricky puzzles you will find that you will be tripping over yourself and sometimes just blocking your own view of the screen. I honestly believe that the scheme is like this to add something more to an already very creative idea. It needs to be like and this is another game which shows us that Sony are always looking for games which give the players a little something different.
It is not a very long game, if you can breeze through the puzzles you are looking at a 4 hour games but it is more about the experience than how long it will take you to complete. You never know, you may end up wanting to replay it all over again.
With the unforgiving difficult of the puzzles aside and an over creative control scheme, Metrico is a good game. It is a bizarre idea but in some areas it worked. Some of the dimension tricks are brilliant and will be amazing by how fluid all the elements fall together.
For a puzzle game which needs precise inputs the controls let it down. There are many times where you fail due to poor button layout. Yes it is great that it uses all the functions of the Vita but it can get really silly sometimes and when you fail a puzzle due to fumbling with controls, lets just say you may get a little angry.
What you have here is a short but really frustrating game which will test your limits. If you get easily frustrated by puzzles, whether that being getting you numbers jumbled in sudoku or if you struggle with getting pieces to fit right in a jigsaw, this will infuriate you. To sum up; this puzzle title can be tough, not Dark Souls level tough but it will test you and is not for the faint hearted.
I can see a lot of players giving up on this title after only an hour of play but the true puzzle lovers will push their way through to the end.
Who should play this?
- Any PS+ Member. You got it for free so give it a go
- If you are really into your puzzle platformers then this is one not to miss
- If you love crisp looking design and mystical soundtracks then you may find something here
- Love the thrill of trial and error then this one is right up your street
Who Shouldn’t Play This?
- If you hate puzzles then avoid this one
- Not a fan of having to repeat levels over and over until you get it right - this is your living hell
- If you are looking for just a platformer then this one seriously is not for you