Metrico preview: Walk left or right, change the world
Metrico wears cartesian coordinates and graphs as a fashion statement. This minimalist art style serves a purpose, though -- your vertical and horizontal movements influence the world around you, raising and lowering bar graphs, charts, and more. It’s a puzzle platformer with a unique look and a novel gameplay style that’s hard to explain.
Remember World 3 in Braid? In that world, time went forward when you moved right and backward when you move left. In Metrico, your movements influence everything in different ways, but the concept feels similar. Sometimes jumping will move a platform, sometimes moving left or right will. Sometimes you just have to die to progress.
Metrico uses the basic controls of platforming for its puzzle-solving ends. You’ll quickly learn that in some instances, a platform will only move when you are moving on the ground. By jumping and moving through the air, you can get where you need to go without changing the environment. Each puzzle asks something different from you, forcing experimentation and lateral thinking.
In one puzzle, jumping at all would move a platform up and out of reach. The trick was to move left and right on a platform that went up whenever you moved at all, then drop from that platform so that you could fall instead of jumping. Another puzzle required me to jump into a death pit in order to raise platforms and progress. Yep, even death is a way to interact with the world in Metrico.
The art style may seem a bit drab and minimalist at first blush, but all the charts and graphs, measurements, percentages, and X/Y coordinates fit well with the gameplay concept. It’s a visual treatment that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern art museum. Unfortunately, in a noisy demo room, I wasn’t able to hear how the soundtrack matches with gameplay and graphics, though I’d expect the music and sound meshes well.
I’m still curious about what the larger purpose or narrative is in Metrico. I also wonder how the game will evolve throughout the full experience. The method for solving puzzles felt genuinely novel, but I wonder if that momentum can be maintained throughout the full experience. Each new puzzle had me poking and prodding at the controls and seeing the results, and it will be impressive if Metrico can maintain that delightful sense of discovery.
It’s worth noting that Metrico is a PlayStation Vita exclusive (at least for the time being). As usual, the game looks great on that screen, and controls wonderfully on the handheld’s d-pad. It doesn’t seem to make use of the Vita’s touch or tilt features, but that’s fine. An exclusive, smart puzzle-platformer like this is still a big grab for Sony, and their continued efforts to bring indie games like this to their platforms seems to be paying off.
Metrico may be made of dull graphs and charts, but it could end up being so much more. The discovery and experimentation in the puzzle solving feels like something new, even if its foundation in jumping and moving left to right isn’t.
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