Metrico+ (Xbox One Review)
In spite of 2017’s first month being somewhat unique in gaming circles, what with Nintendo releasing a ton of information on the upcoming Switch, elsewhere January is settling into its now standard routine of being a month in which you can relax, take a breath, and have a look at some lesser-publicised titles.One such title is Metrico+.
Metrico+ was previously released in 2015 on PC and now making its way to console. A unique take on the traditional puzzle-platformer, Metrico+ sees you control an unnamed man making your way through an almost infographics-meets-M.C. Escher-esque world of geometric shapes that react to your every action, forcing you to give careful consideration to every single thing you do within that world.
And no two puzzles are the same, meaning that one may see the simple act of walking make a platform extend out from the other end of the screen, whilst jumping could make the platform you need to exit the area descend. On the downside, this does engender something of a trial-and-error motif in some of the puzzles, but never frustratingly so. In fact, that trial-and-error actually creates a nice mix of moments that veer between “oh, that was actually really obvious, I’m an idiot for taking so long to figure it out” and “holy shit, I’m a genius”.
To help you complete later puzzles, the end of each level sees you granted with a new ability, such as a teleport button that will reset the room, whilst whisking you back to the closest checkpoint, or a projectile that you can bounce off walls to activate switches. The puzzles are all designed in such a way that you’ll have to quickly improvise with your new abilities in tandem to complete them, often within seconds of each other. This adds a sense of urgency to a game that, in most other regards, is a fairly sedate, relaxing affair.
That feeling of calm and serenity is aided further by Metrico+’s aesthetic. Graphically, the game has a minimalist, almost Tron-like quality to it – a blend of flat polygonal shapes, abstract evolving backgrounds and subtle neon lighting. Even the character you control throughout the game – a silhouette of a man or a woman (you can choose at the beginning of the game) – just fits. It’s not perfect, to be fair – the moving shapes that act as switches seem oddly out of place, for example – but it hits more often than it misses. That Tron-like quality extends to the soundtrack, which might be my favourite part of the game – foreboding and ethereal electronica that I’d happily listen to outside of the game.
In a game in which I’ve spoken of its minimalist abstract qualities, it should come as no surprise that the game’s story follows a very similar mould. Hinting at a clash between humanity and technology, it’s simply told through short cutscenes between levels and leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Those looking for a defined story in their games may be best looking elsewhere, but I particularly enjoyed it.
All in all, Metrico+ should serve as a pleasant surprise for Xbox One owners looking for something to tax the brain, whilst whiling away the time until the big releases start to roll through again. However, it’s actually a game that I’d recommend at any time. It’s a unique mix of puzzling and platforming in its own right, but tie in the abstraction that permeates every aspect of it, and it’s a surprisingly intriguing package. If you want a game that makes you feel smart without the stress that normally comes associated with trying to prove it, then you can do far worse than Metrico+.