Previously released on the PS4 and PC, the puzzle platformer Metrico+ is finally making its Xbox One debut. With no dialogue of any kind, the game is all about “infographics and free will,” according to developer Digital Dreams. As you attempt to traverse the game’s worlds, the premise is simple enough; you must get from Point A to Point B. The trick is figuring out how to do that. Is it worth the effort to make the trip?
You’ll notice immediately that this game is different, a little trippy even. Everything revolves around infographics, often in subtle ways. It’s not always instantly apparent that the stairs you’re climbing are actually a bar graph. Usually, however, it’s obvious in this universe full of angles, cones, rectangles, protractors, percentages, etc. The art work, music, and ambient sounds change as you move through the six worlds available. The graphics shift with each new world discovered, from pastel forest surroundings to stark black and white angles to vivid pinks and purples amongst a city of bland blocks. While visually appealing, the one downside to these changing environments is that it’s sometimes difficult to know where an edge is until you’ve walked off of it.
Another interesting visual aspect is the main character. As he or she (you can choose the gender you prefer) progresses through each world, you will be asked to sacrifice a body part. If you choose an arm, it appears to be stripped of flesh, leaving a skeletal arm in its place, which is kind of a creepy shock in this very precise world. After giving up a leg, however, you can hear the metallic thud as the character runs, and after several lost parts, the character appears increasingly robotic. Whether this is the character changing to match his or her surroundings or an interesting analogy about life is up to interpretation.
There’s not any obvious story here though one does get a feeling for the main character. Watching the transition from world to world is almost painful as the character seems to be suffering when being dropped into these new places. Since everything is so abstract, however, there’s no way to really know exactly what’s happening, and the game’s ending is no help at all in making anything plainer. If anything, it simply adds to the confusion.
The gameplay could be a mathematician’s dream. Each area has movable parts that react differently to the player’s actions. Since there is no dialogue or instruction, it’s up to the player to figure out exactly how these interactions occur, in essence forcing players to explore and learn for themselves how things work. For example, a pillar might be standing in your way, and you have to jump up and down to get it to lower. A fraction will be attached to it to let you know how much your action affects it. If it says 1/4, you can move it three more times in a particular direction. A platform that moves back and forth might have a percentage attached instead. If running to the right makes the platform move to the right 67%, you know it can only go a little further before it reaches its 100% limit.
As you continue forward, the game becomes more difficult with different types of puzzles and new skills added with each level. In the first area, you can only run and jump. By the sixth area, you can also shoot, ricochet, and teleport, trading places with other objects in a Portal-esque sort of way, making for much more complicated puzzles. One area, for example, requires you to ricochet a shot up to twenty times then catch it. Each ricochet extends a platform toward you while catching the shot lifts a wall standing in your way at the other end of the platform. Puzzles like this one can be maddening. Even if one knows what to do, getting the angles just right can be difficult, so it becomes less about solving the puzzle and more about executing precisely. The controls are sometimes a bit too sensitive, making hitting a particular spot difficult at times.
Thankfully, circles that serve as your checkpoints appear after practically every puzzle, so if you “die” after solving one, you don’t have to start again. Dying occurs when you go off the side of a platform, get smashed by a moving pillar, run into moving object (aka an enemy), etc., but you simply start back at the beginning of the current conundrum; there is no “game over.”
Finally are the achievements, and it’s here that one might really begin to hate this game. You don’t get achievements for simply finishing each area; you’re required to finish areas in very specific ways. For example, one area must be completed without ever walking to the left. Another must be done by jumping a certain number of times while yet another must be done while never missing a shot. Additionally, six of the game’s 18 achievements are speed runs – one for each level – so not only do you have to be remarkably precise, you also have to be fast. Those for whom the game isn’t especially intuitive will find this to be a very difficult completion. Someone with even mediocre skills can get through the game in a few hours, but it will take someone with a great eye for precision to obtain all of the achievements.
Overall, Metrico+ will be an outstanding find for those with a mathematical bent and/or a particular skill set, especially fans of innovative platformers, but for others, it will simply be remarkably hard. Further, whatever meaning you choose to create for the stranger you lead through the game’s ever-changing worlds, the ending is a bit too existential for comfort.
Score: 6 out of 10
Price: $13.99 / €13.99
Release Date: January 19, 2017
Platform: Xbox One
Written by BlueSeptember