The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
It used to
be rare to see a game with unique visual aesthetics - odd experiments like
Vib Ribbon or Echochrome were hardly the norm. Thanks to the indie-game
revolution, we're now blessed with myriad studios breaking from the norm. Count
Metrico developer Digital Dreams among this group. This puzzle game is
brilliantly realized. Using charts, bar graphs, and line graphs as a basic
design language, Digital Dreams weaves bewitching and surreal environments.
Coupled with a chilly ambient electronic score, the game is triumph of
minimalist design. The levels contain small visual cues, some intended to aid
and others to deceive; it's the rare game where every detail feels methodically
starts out simply, as the goal is always the same: Advance your onscreen
character past the various moving platforms and obstacles to get to the next
screen. The levels can be manipulated with proportional movements or action;
jumping might raise one platform and lower another, while another stretches and
shrinks as you run from side to side.
At its best,
Metrico is one of the best puzzle games I've played in ages, forcing you to
reexamine your assumptions about how the world works and how you're supposed to
approach a given challenge. If something seems impossible, it's because you're
not looking at it the right way - which generates those "a-ha!" moments
that are the true appeal of the genre.
designed specifically for the Vita, something that sometimes enhances - but
often hinders - the experience. I like the way the game layers on mechanics as
you progress; I just wish they were more polished. You start being able to do
little more than jump and move, but eventually gain the ability to shoot small
projectiles (and aim them with the Vita's back touch panel, which can be
frustrating at times). Puzzles that use the Vita's tilt functionality and
camera are shaky at best and aggravating at worst. The tilt puzzles frequently
had me twisting my neck to view the game as I rotated the system 90 degrees or
more. Toward the end, a mechanic is added that requires you to use the Vita
camera to move platforms, but it's hard to use and confusing. I believe it has
to do with overall light exposure and red, green, and blue colors. You're going
to have to experiment on your own, because the game often doesn't explain these
new mechanics. I found a system that worked for me that involved pointing the
camera at combinations of my coffee mug, desktop, and office window - and
I still couldn't tell you exactly how it all worked.
While I love
that Metrico doesn't hold your hand, there were times when I felt I could have
used a bit more to hang on to - especially the levels where some of the
on-screen "hints" are actually obfuscating the true course of action. However,
for every moment of frustration, there were greater feelings of pride and the
thrill of discovery. Metrico isn't a perfect game, but it's one worth playing
for fans of the puzzle games. The fact that it has one of the most ingenious
art styles of the year is only icing on the cake.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.