The idea between Metrico is simple – run from one side of the screen to the other, Mario style, solving platform puzzles along the way. The twist comes in the way the puzzles themselves are solved, relying on the various inputs that the Vita has on offer to help you achieve your goal.
Metrico has its own distinct style that is heavily influenced by inforgraphics that pop up in the background as you progress through the game., and they are used as platforms and objects you can interact with as you travel through the game world. Jumping to move platforms up and down or running left to right to get a platform in just the right place becomes the order of the day, with what is a simple idea quickly ramping up the difficulty and level of challenge as the various controls are introduced, with timing and ingenuity required for some of the later levels.
Each level is cleverly designed to introduce you to the different elements at play and at no point does the game penalise you for trying something different – in fact, this is actively encouraged as you progress, with checkpoints generously placed throughout each world as you experiment with what works and (more often than not) what doesn’t.
The game itself is not long, and could be quite easily completed within a few hours. Consisting of 6 game worlds that appear on what looks like a London Underground map as you work your way through the game, each one does a good job of introducing a different skill that helps you continue towards your ultimate goal, which is essentially the far right of the screen. This is a simple idea that has cropped up in countless games, but something here just didn’t seem to click with me. Yes it is a nice idea, yes, the aesthetic and inforgraphics work well together, and yes, the various controls that the Vita employs have been cleverly used and utilised, but this wasn’t enough of a new take on what is a relatively old idea to really draw me in and get me excited about what I was doing.
Unlike previous games of this ilk, I didn’t really care if I completed each level, and I didn’t feel any concern or worry for the games protagonist, a featureless, nameless chap, who however many times I caused him to die appeared quickly and swiftly at the most recent checkpoint, which was never too far away. This checkpoint system is used cleverly to solve some of the puzzles and is more of a blessing than a curse throughout the game, but it also gives that added security of knowing that whatever I do the consequences of my actions can easily be reversed, removing any element of threat from each puzzle as I know I can respawn at the last checkpoint by holding down the Circle button. This didn’t stop my enjoyment of the game at all but, call me old school, I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating by or missing the point by doing so.
The puzzles themselves are often quite fiendishly designed, and completing each one did come with its own sense of accomplishment; you can’t help but feel clever when you manage to work certain problems out or jump to a platform that had previously been out of reach, but the majority of the game relies on simple trial and error as you work to solve its many puzzles. This is something the checkpoint system actively encourages – if this doesn’t work, I’ll respawn within seconds and try something new, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
You can’t help but feel like your breaking into a safe with a sledgehammer, knowing you might be here a very long while and that there must be smarter, more sophisticated ways to do it, but eventually something will have to give. Even the trophies have a certain puzzle quality about them as they are all hidden – the first time one popped for me I had to stop and check what it was for as I had simply assumed I would unlock them as I completed each level. Trophy hunters beware – they aren’t unlocked as easily as that!
For a quick pick up and play Metrico is ideal, but be warned – you will probably get frustrated and rely heavily on the checkpoint system to make your way to the end. Metrico takes an interesting concept and pushes it just about as far as it can – ultimately it can’t help feeling like a mobile game and never seems to achieve any depth or emotional attachment for what you are doing along the way.
Metrico is available for download now on PSN
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