Have you heard the popular phrase “Statistics are sexy?” No? Well, we haven’t heard of it either. That’s because when most of us think of statistics, we think of a bunch of numbers that immediately bring down the energy level of any conversation.
Yet, in today’s day and age, we’re surrounded by statistics. They’re inescapable, as a matter of fact. Luckily, a bunch of smart people got together and figured out a way to show us pie-charts and graphs that wasn’t immediately sleep-inducing. The most popular way to display statistics today is called ‘infographics’. Infographics make statistics more palatable, and it might even be said, more entertaining. You would think infographics would be a weird thing to base your game around, but that is exactly what Metrico attempts to do.
Instead of using traditional platforming elements like ledges and rivers, Metrico uses infographics which morph in response to your actions. It’s unlike any other game you’ve played before. All of the statistical elements combine together to create puzzles that you have to navigate your way around. Unfortunately, Metrico doesn’t quite manage to live up to the tremendous potential of this unique concept. While it occasionally manages a brilliant moment, most of the time it is hampered by the subpar control scheme and lack of clear direction.
Depending on which level you are in, there are different elements on the screen which morph according to your actions. Moving left and right could increase or decrease the size of a bar on a graph, and jumping up and down could increase or decrease the distance between two adjacent bars. You try to figure out what the challenge the specific level you are in holds, and then make your way out through one of two doors.
The Game Play:
Why are you taking this journey, you might ask? What is the reason your character is jumping through rooms full of percentages and charts and bars? That is a question for which Metrico has no answer. In fact, you’d probably be better off accepting the premise as is, without questioning it too much. If you try to find an underlying theme or message through all of the proceedings, you are likely to reach the end screen completely befuddled.
As you progress through the game, the level of difficulty gradually ramps up. More and more elements and mechanics are introduced which make the puzzles more challenging. In due course, you learn how to shoot by touching the screen. You turn and tilt your Vita to adjust floating platforms. You can also control the camera by using the controls at your disposal. While you might find yourself contorting at odd angles as you turn, tilt and try to press the controls at the same time, this is what the game expects of you. It would’ve been alright if there was a sense of uniformity to the controls, but often you might find yourself confused about how much you need to twist or turn to get through a certain stage.
The difficulty then, in Metrico, stems not from the complexity of the puzzles themselves, which are fairly easy. The majority of the struggles you face in this game will come from your battles with the control scheme. The sensitivity of the turning and tilting varies with each level, and sometimes you might have to do completely different maneuvers to achieve the same thing in two different levels. Most of the time, you will have to get the central concept of each puzzle by playing through it a couple of times before you happen upon the solution.
In the more complex levels, there are multiple objects in the environment that you need to pay attention to. You might have figured out a series of jumps across an initial section until you plummet to your death because some other piece of the puzzle moved. Then, you have to keep this in mind as you play through the puzzle subsequently, until you see the big picture. Figuring out large puzzles like this is a lot of fun, and seeing a sequence of your actions come together to pave the way to success is very satisfying. Whenever a level introduces a new mechanic, the game briefly introduces it to you. After this point, Metrico leaves it up to your imagination and intelligence to figure out the rest. When the game’s control scheme isn’t working actively against it, Metrico is quite a lot of fun.
The look and feel of the game is completely unique, because of the novel concept that it builds upon. The visuals are pleasing and minimalistic and are backed by a competent soundtrack, which punctuates your actions with distinct audio cues. The colors that the game uses are simplistic, but it is a credit to the presentation that they blend together to create an aesthetically satisfying look.
Metrico is a game with some brilliant ideas, but the absence of context and the sub-optimal control scheme let it down. There’s a lot of fun to be had in exploring the different puzzle mechanics and how the infographic elements interact with each other, if you can look past some of the shortcomings of the game.