Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Akupara Games
Back during my high school years, I would often frequent my local arcade establishment called Boomers, which housed two DDR machines at the time. Of course, over time I decided it would be economically efficient if I just bought myself a dance mat and played at home. Eventually, I discovered Stepmania, a PC program which you could load up with a slew of DDR songs and note tracks, and essentially simulate your own arcade machine at home. It was then when I started to play with the arrow keys on my keyboard when I was feeling tired and found that it was just as fun and challenging, as getting up and actually busting a move on the dance mat. Little did I know, that years later, those skills would come in handy in a game that blends DDR and RPG together in a unique mash-up.
It's light on the RPG, but that's a good thing
Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor, which is actually an updated version of Metronomicon that also happened to make its way to consoles, is ultimately a rhythm game with a dash of story. The story never gets overwhelming, and it certainly leans on the sillier side of the spectrum. After all, the premise revolving around a rhythm Academy where its students must defeat monsters by bustin' dance moves to utilize skills. It's pure nonsense but in the best way.
I actually expected a lot more RPG elements such as an overworld or some sort of map traversal before I ever played the game, but turns out the RPG stuff is just a shiny coating to what is otherwise a traditional rhythm game.
The RPG mechanics stem from using said skills during each song, equipping characters with various pieces of loot that you find, and of course gaining levels that raise each character's stats and gives them access to new skills.
If you've played Rock Band Unplugged / Blitz, you'll feel right at home
Since you're using multiple characters that each have their own skills to use, you'll need to stay in control of four note highways. While that may sound daunting, it's relatively easy once you get the hang of it. During each song, you start off by controlling a single note highway. As soon as you complete a sequence that fires off a skill, that note highway goes dark, and it's up to you to press the left or right bumper to switch to another party member and continue to do the same. Once you've gone through all party members, you basically start all over again.
The strategy then lies in what order you have your party laid out in, and what skills you're using. For instance, I had my healing character third, so I could always cast two offensive spells, then a healing a spell, and then lastly another offensive one until the rotation reset again.
What's more, characters can have multiple skill thresholds depending on the number of button inputs you perform. For example, the mage character has a water and fire spell when starting out, and has them slotted in that order. That means after completing the first sequence of arrows; she would cast the water spell. However, you can keep that chain going to cast the fire spell eventually. And since elements play a major role in dealing more damage, knowing when to fire off what spell is critical to your success.
The soundtrack is fun and varied, and comprised of songs you probably haven't heard before
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I first booted up Metronomicon, but what I got was a pleasant surprise. The soundtrack is comprised of a lot of indie artists, like Shiny Toy Guns, Mega Ran, and Perturbator to name a few. Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence fame also has a song in the game, and it's pretty great!
Slay the Dance Floor is the definitive version
Surprisingly, given my extreme love for rhythm games, I never got around to playing Metronomicon when it first launched. So I can't compare the base experience versus the one with all the extras included here. What I can say is that the game now supports local multiplayer, so you and a buddy can slay monsters together with some sweet dance moves. There's a new character to unlock and use, as well as brand new abilities.
If you've somehow missed out on the original Metronomicon that released September of 2016, then Slay the Dance Floor is the obvious purchase, since the addition of all those extras add value to the game, and provide some longevity.
There are also currently two DLC packs for $1.99 each. Each pack contains three songs, and while they don't get added to the game as part of its main campaign story mode, they come with the ability to unlock some powerful items. And, they're all sensational. Considering the low asking price, if you're a rhythm game savant, then I highly suggest you give these packs a look.
Not a huge fan of the animations
Listen, I get that this isn't a AAA developed game, and I totally get what the developer was going for in terms of character movement and animations. With that said, for a game that relies on dancing to show off their characters, the "paper doll" movement doesn't do them justice. As a result, they look somewhat stiff, which is a shame considering the rest of the game is oozing with style.
Despite my small gripes, it's an exciting and unique take on the rhythm game genre. The best comparison I could make is that it's the Puzzle Quest of the Rhythm genre. Everything revolves around the core mechanic of dancing/playing the actual rhythm game. While that does streamline the experience, I do feel like the game could have benefitted from some sort of overworld exploration.
Since I've never played the original, I can't say how much better the inclusion of all the extra Slay the Dance Floor additions are, but it obviously is, without a doubt, the definitive version of the game. If you're a fan of rhythm games and want to add a little bit of RPG quirk to your correctly-timed button presses, then you can't go wrong with Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor.