Infographics, formerly the shorthand for PowerPoint presentations, have invaded everything from informative articles to comedy websites. Interpretation can be a pain without an accurate accompanying explanation, and those aren’t always provided.
Metrico+, by Digital Dreams, takes that tendency and runs with it (literally), turning a mystery of infographic interpretation into a puzzle platformer that causes head-scratching frustration, as well as triumphant joy. The overall impression I got before playing was that this would be a fun game to merely pass the time. I was right about the “fun,” but the word “merely” doesn’t apply.
The platform I’m reviewing is PC, but unless you have a mouse or controller to connect on a laptop…well, it’s trying, to say the least. With a trackpad, there are several button combinations that stretch manual dexterity a bit, as your hands will kind of get in the way of each other. If you’re used to playing FPS on your laptop’s trackpad, you might be okay, but Metrico+ has a bit more of an awkward key configuration. Just a bit of a warning. I ended up playing on my PC with a controller, and it was much more comfortable and intuitive. Once you find a method that works for you, personally, the controls are very responsive – I had no issues with delay or any mishap that wasn’t user-related.
Metrico+ released on PS Vita in 2014, and the controls and functions were a bit different, as they utilized the device’s camera and tilt ability to control the environment. For the PC version, things are a lot more simple, and yet the game manages to still be infuriatingly difficult, at times. There are six stages, and I managed to make it to Stage Five before I had to walk away and just take a break. My issue wasn’t figuring out how to complete the puzzle, it was actually getting the timing right, which is vital in several puzzles.
In each stage, a new ability is introduced as necessary to solve puzzles. In the first stage, merely jumping is enough. Later, you gain the ability to teleport and reset at local checkpoints, shoot projectiles, and so on. There are no enemies, but there are obstacles that can kill you; Metrico+ has an achievement for simply not dying, in fact. For another example of the perks of using a controller: I was only able to gain this achievement while using one.
The gameplay itself is exceedingly simple. You run, jump, shoot, etc., in a plain environment (though the visuals and landscapes are not boring). The puzzles get progressively more difficult as you gain more skills, making Metrico+ more engrossing the longer you play. There is no plot; players choose whether they want to be represented by a male or female avatar, and you’re tossed into the first stage without any pomp. Small prompts appear in the top left of the screen to indicate when a skill should be used, and what button to press. There is no status bar aside from a marker when you’ve reached a checkpoint.
One interesting thing about Metrico+ is that, at the end of each stage, you’re presented with a choice of two doors to go through in order to progress. Each door has a projection of your avatar, and a body part is highlighted. Choose a door, and that body part is shrunk (I chose head and chest, and ended up looking like a wasp with huge human legs). There is no purpose that I can see, and it appears that it’s more of a measurement of players than anything else. I suppose the interpretation is up to the player. Personally, I just ignored it except to marvel at how misshapen creature I’d become.
The sound design is unremarkable, though appropriate. The music is repetitive, and almost hypnotic. I suppose that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, to keep the player’s mind in a single mode; it worked for me. There are sound effects for every movement, and they’re not intrusive enough to distract – again, they’re unremarkable, yet appropriate. I feel as though that describes nearly everything about Metrico+ except for the gameplay and puzzle content. This isn’t a bad thing, but the contrast is very interesting.
I will say that the reactive environment and background was kind of cool. Every time a static change occurred in the puzzle, the background would change, with items either added, moved, or a color changed. It kept the graphics more fluid, which broke some of the tension of some of the puzzles. Breaking your concentration for a second to watch circles appear in the background can be a much-needed interruption.
Overall, I really did enjoy playing Metrico+. There were, as I mentioned, moments where frustration nearly got the better of me, but my desire to succeed overrode any irritation I held with any particular puzzle. I can’t say that the game is spectacular, but my consideration here is for the total experience, and that definitely came out on the positive side of things. If you’re not into brain teasers, you like your platforming a little faster-paced, and aren’t willing to sink a bit of time into possibly developing a headache, this might not be the game for you. However, if you have even the smallest amount of appreciation for a clever puzzle game with very clear rules and limits, pick this up.