Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Metrico (Vita) Review

Metrico was released about a week ago on the PlayStation Store for Vita owners to enjoy and dive into. The game is also available this month only for PlayStation Plus subscribers for a low price of FREE. Can't beat free, but as you'll discover with this review, Metrico is worth its price tag regardless.

Warning: The following game features infographic content.
Viewer discretion advised. 

The indie initiative on the PlayStation Vita is going strong, and that can only be a good thing for all parties involved. Since retail releases in the West have all but dried up, digital releases have been taking over, offering a well rounded library that the Vita otherwise wouldn't possess. Indies have single-handily made it so the Vita is still relevant in the West, and the Vita has made it so many of these indies have found great success on the platform.

We've seen an abundant array of experimental titles that have broken new ground and games that offer fresh takes on old formulas and genres. Developer Digital Dreams's Metrico is a title that can be mentioned in both categories, and this game is definitely worthy of taking a look. (It's especially so if you have PlayStation Plus, as the game is free for subscribers this month.)

Metrico is a platformer focusing heavily on solving pzzules that has its actual platforming take place on various statistical information, such as pie charts, bar graphs, and much more. It's a very clever idea and an interesting premise for sure. Thankfully, it's not just interesting for a premise; it makes for a really fun game too.

The developers of Metrico went with a minimalist approach to not just the visuals, which are sleek, futuristic, and well designed, but also with the design of the game itself. You will not encounter copious amounts of tutorials that hold your hand from the beginning of the game to the end. In fact, tutorials are kept to a bare minimum, only coming into play a handful of times throughout this grand platforming adventure.

Metrico encourages experimenting, and thanks to the innovative and mostly intuitive uses of the PlayStation Vita hardware, this experimentation makes for a roaring good time. Metrico is all about player inputs affecting and influencing the world around them.

Some platforms only rise up when the player jumps, while some only lower when the player moves to the right. Yes, it's all about experimentation, and getting stuck is a part of that experience. However, it is immensely gratifying to finally overcome a particular sticking point after pondering over it and trying out different strategies for 10 or even 20 minutes.

The PlayStation Vita's various hardware functionality is heavily featured in Metrico. Buttons allow for jumping and returning to checkpoints; the latter of which returns the current puzzle room back to its original form. However, there's also alternative inputs like shaking the Vita itself and using the back touch pad to line up, aim, and fire shots.

While most of these inputs work well and feel intuitive, I did have more issues with aiming with the rear touch pad than I wanted to witness. The rear touch pad isn't the most precise means of aiming, and shooting with the right shoulder button simultaneously can feel like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time. Go ahead and try it. It's a little challenging without having your patting hand make a circular motion like your rubbing hand.

The trouble here is that several puzzles require you to aim and precisely fire at enemies. When each time you fire a platform raises and if you miss enough shots (which is VERY easy to do unfortunately), the platform raises so high that it's impossible to jump over, things can become rather vexing.

Metrico can be beaten in an afternoon's time, but there are collectibles to acquire, three in each level. These are as simple as just coming across them and finding them. No, you have to organize the various platforms in a way that satisfies the condition for the said collectible to appear. In addition to collectibles, the trophies included with Metrico offer alternate ways to play the game, adding to the replay value presented.

While Metrico is a short game, it's one that will bend your mind with its simple yet complex puzzle platforming and keep you engaged from start to finish. It's by no means a perfect gaming experience, as the actual platforming isn't as great as I would like (the perspective in some levels makes knowing how wide some platforms are difficult to ascertain) and some frame-rate drops in between level sections. However, those looking for yet another innovative indie title for their PlayStation Vita will definitely find a lot to like with Metrico.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

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