In 2014, puzzle-platformer Metrico released as a PlayStation Vita exclusive. While it was an interesting looking game, it suffered from its need to use every single gimmick available on the Vita, leaving it rather awkward to control and not very fun to play. Two years later and it seems the developers are giving the game another shot with Metrico+, an updated version for PC and consoles. Does this version raise the bar graph, or shall it remain a pie graph in the sky?
Each level in Metrico+ is made up of bars, graphs, and other infographic-styled items. Your inputs control your character, but also control some of these items. One room may see a bar raise every time you jump, another has a block travel left when you do, while a third level has doors controlled by an ability that lets you shoot bouncing circles at enemies. It's a creative idea that leads to some rather fantastic puzzles. In one level, I had to combine the use of teleporters with a few platforms that raised when I jumped on them and lowered when I went through a teleporter, getting them to the perfect height so I could jump across and onto a ledge. Another required me to keep a circle in the air by bouncing it from a platform that moved alongside me. As I went, every bounce extended a bridge just a little more, eventually getting me to my goal.
I was impressed with how great some of the puzzles were, with some actually leaving me to experiment and figure out an answer rather than breezing through. It was rare that I found a puzzle where I could just walk in and know the answer right away. Instead, I'd find myself actually experimenting with every action, learning new ways to interact with the environment, the enemies, and even with myself. By the end of the game, I could swap places with enemies long enough to fire a bouncing shot into a wall before swapping back so it would hit them. As much fun as most of the puzzles are, there are a few stinkers mixed in. One puzzle, for example, I just couldn't figure out. I ended up passing it not because I solved it, but because I accidentally glitched through a wall after throwing myself at it long enough. Designing puzzles is tough, so I understand there'll be a few puzzles that don't quite fit in, but it's still disappointing every time I did run into one.
My biggest problem with the original release was its strange use of all the gimmicks available on the Vita. Thankfully, the move to consoles and PC have eliminated this complaint. Aiming used to be a chore because it required use of the back touchpad, but now its simply done through the right stick. No longer did I have to shake things or hope that the gyroscope wanted to play nice with me today. It doesn't make Metrico+'s puzzles any easier, in fact I'd say they're better designed now that I don't have to guess which gimmick is in use for this level. That said, as nice as the new controls are, I did occasionally have a strange problem with my character getting stuck. Sometimes he didn't seem to be able to handle aiming in one direction, leading to a couple of strange moments where he would constantly flip right and left over and over again until I adjusted the aim slightly. Thankfully, this was a rare problem.
Probably the most noticeable part about Metrico+ is its art style. The game looks like someone saw all the bar graphs and line graphs during a business meeting and decided that's what they wanted to base their game on. It's certainly distinct, and I couldn't help but be charmed when a projectile would actually chart out its X/Y coordinates on a graph. The game also contains a soundtrack done by Palmbomen, and it fits the game well and always added to the moment.
While the graphics and sound are noticeable, the story feels like it's going for the Limbo styled "don't tell the player anything and let them figure it out" thing. That said, I didn't really find anything worth trying to figure out. The most I can tell you is that your character is turning into a robot for some reason, which I guess has something to do with all the infographics. Metrico+ also doesn't have much in the way of replay value. The game's six stages took me about five hours to get through, and that will vary depending on how long you get stuck at any individual puzzle. Afterward, there's nothing else to do. There's nothing really wrong with that, of course, but there's not much reason to play the game after you're done with it.
While the story is a bust, Metrico+ is still an impressive entry into the puzzle platformer field. Moving the game off the Vita was the right choice here, giving it another chance to shine, and the improved controls really seal the deal. Metrico+ is a game that is making all graphs point towards an upwards trend in fun.
Metrico+ was reviewed on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on the PlayStation 4 and is coming to the Xbox One at a later date.
Metrico+ improves on everything from the original game simply by changing which platform it's on. More people can now enjoy this unique looking and well made puzzle platformer.