Had it come out a couple years earlier, Metrico would have made the perfect pack-in for the PS Vita at launch. It's a deceptively simple puzzle game that makes a strong argument for nearly every bell and whistle the system has to offer. Although basic looking, this is a game that demonstrates how to use the handheld's many functions, all without coming across as a tech demo. It should have been there from the start to greet new Vita owners.
Of course, talking about what should have happened will get us nowhere, especially when there are so many clever puzzles to solve in Metrico. What starts out looking like a simple side-scrolling 2D platformer quickly evolves into a complicated collection of brain-teasers. And just when you think you've figured everything out, the developers add a new wrinkle that changes everything.
The theme here is charts and graphs, the type of thing you might recognize if you spend a lot of time working an office job. The game uses this familiar visual to set up a series of puzzles that revolve around manipulating the numbers and charts to get to the next checkpoint. Doing that gets you one step closer to completing what appears to be a very complicated walk across town.
Metrico doesn't spend much time telling a story or developing its two characters (nameless female and male figures). Instead of teaching the basics, the game simply drops you into this brand new world. Through trial and error, it becomes clear that performing tasks like jumping and falling will impact the world. For example, dropping off of a ledge may raise a door, or jumping into the air could move a floating platform.
What makes Metrico so unique is the inconsistency between puzzles. What may work in one stage definitely won't work in another. In fact, you'll likely spend the first few moments of each puzzle just trying to figure out how to manipulate the different objects. Things become even more complicated as the game introduces new mechanics, such as a laser projectile that sometimes raises platforms and sometimes lowers them. You'll also be able to defeat enemies with this laser shot, but even doing that will have its own unique impact on the puzzle.
The most interesting mechanics use the Vita's gyroscope technology, which requires players to rotate their system around to adjust platforms. There are times when you'll need to turn the Vita completely upside down, all while continuing to move your character from one checkpoint to the next. Some of these puzzles have to be seen to be believed, and they had me moving Sony's handheld in ways I had never before considered.
Unfortunately, there's one mechanic towards the end that threatens to derail the entire experience. In the sixth and final area, our hero is told to use the Vita's rear camera to do ... something. Don't get me wrong, I completed the game and witnessed Metrico's baffling end sequence, but I'm still not sure what the game was trying to tell me. Perhaps I needed to be playing in a room with better lighting or this functionality is screwy, but I'm still not sure how I completed some of the late-game challenges.
If nothing else, Metrico offers developers a lot of great ideas for how to create unique content on the PS Vita. The use of the system's gyroscope is inspired, and I wish there was a lot more of it. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing an entire game centered entirely around spinning the system to raise and lower platforms. Sadly, it often feels like the developers are in a hurry to move on to the next mechanic.
Although simple, I enjoyed this puzzler's minimalist look. Each of the six worlds has a unique style, and the developers get the most out of their theme. Some levels have complicated backgrounds, while another is simply black and white. In much the same way the puzzles are always changing, so is the presentation.
Early on, Metrico suggests players plug in their headphones and turn up the sound. This is bad advice. Although the music is light and soothing, it's also frustratingly repetitive. Some songs feel like they are little more than the same 20 second loop repeated over and over. This may not be a big problem in the early stages, but I find myself unable to listen to the audio in the later worlds.
Metrico is a fun little Vita game with a wide variety of clever puzzles and a cool art style. Unfortunately, it never fully develops any of its ideas and the ending will leave players scratching their heads. If nothing else, this unique puzzler makes a convincing case that more games should use the Vita's numerous bells and whistles.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.