Travel through a world in which statistics control all.
Metrico+ is a puzzle platformer originally released on PS Vita, and now Xbox One, PS4, and Steam. I’ll start by saying that I don’t like puzzle platformers. I often find them too difficult for my tiny brain to work its way through and give up long before their conclusion. This one was something of a different story, and it all comes down to its subject matter. Graphs. Metrico+ bases its world and puzzles around bar charts, line charts, x and y co-ordinates and so forth. Your interactions with the world changes these graphs, allowing you to progress and discover its ever more complex challenges. It sounds utterly bonkers and it is, but it works almost flawlessly thanks to the game being well executed along with its interesting concept. Allow me to explain why!
The game’s worlds are made up of single screen puzzles in which you need to progress from left to right. So far, so platformer. The difference here is that each puzzle is made up of bars and lines that change based on how you interact with the world. Sometimes walking right will cause a barrier to lower, but moving left raises it again. Other times firing a shot will move a platform into position for you to progress. Or perhaps you’ll have to trade places with an enemy character to have them hold down a button to open up a path. There are some genuinely interesting ways in which you can interact and how the game responds. At times it looks intimidating, but giving yourself time to experiment on each screen will allow you to work out what needs to be done. I never felt stuck for long.
As the game progresses, new abilities will unlock, allowing for more complex puzzles to be solved. They do all boil down to the same ideas though, simply applying another layer to them, or requiring tricky timing to complete. As someone who quite likes different types of graphs (don’t judge!) it’s a shame that in terms of gameplay only a couple of graphs are actually used. I’d like to manipulate pie charts and scatter graphs in some of the puzzles. A rotating pie chart that can you have to stand inside as you move is one simple example. Different types of graph do appear in the background and as part of the worlds, just not as part of a puzzle.
The worlds themselves are all varied, each with a lovely art style. As you progress through each of the six worlds the amount of complexity in the background grows in a way similar to Rez. The backgrounds don’t intrude on the puzzles as the pastel colours keep your attention only on what is relevant. The animation is also of a high standard, although the majority is limited to your character who moves very fluidly. The reminded me of the animation style of the characters in Limbo and Inside due to the amount of detail in each movement. On the whole the game’s visuals are simple, but very well done for what they are.
Whilst it has no effect on the gameplay, you can choose the gender of your character which is a nice touch. I didn’t know this from the menu though, as it has absolutely no text and relies on symbols. This is all well and good but in some instances it wasn’t clear what each button did. Maybe I’m in the minority with this one, but I like to know what a menu button does and I wasn’t entirely clear with this. The lack of text does work rather well once in the game’s levels, with any instructions being given to you through a diagram of your keyboard/mouse whilst learning to use the abilities is accomplished through solving simple early puzzles.
Minor spoilers ahead, so be warned! There does seem to be a story here, although I’m not too certain what it is. As you travel through the game, your character will occasionally double over in apparent pain whilst clutching their arm, leg or head. At the end of each stage you are presented with a choice, each of which highlights a different body part. Whichever part you choose will be transformed into a robotic version of itself until you are entirely mechanical. Nothing is explained throughout the game, similar to Limbo and Inside once again, but unlike those two games I find myself struggling to come to a conclusion. Perhaps a cautionary tale of how society is run by statistics in such a way they we are all lead to thinking in a similar way? I’m uncertain, but perhaps a little more visual story telling would give away a little more of the intention.
The game took me approximately 3 hours to finish which is as long as it needs to be to my mind. At no point did I feel an area was overstaying its welcome due to good pacing. Each world introduces you to a new ability and then tests your skills in its use in more and more challenging ways before moving you on to the next world. If you feel that its length is a little on the short side, then there are a couple of additional features for you to try your hand at. Each level has a number of collectables found by positioning each puzzle piece in a certain way. These are very challenging to get in some places, but there is a good deal of satisfaction to be found by completing each one. Then there is a speed run mode that does exactly as you’d expect. This is a nice feature, but not one that is to my tastes.
On the whole, this is an enjoyable experiment in puzzle platforming. The interesting art style and conceit coupled with some inventive puzzles make for an entertaining experience. The only thing missing was more puzzle variety, which isn’t much a criticism. It simply means that I wanted more of this to play, and more graphs to play with!