Metrico+ is devilishly clever and difficult. It’s remarkable how much the simple mechanics can be worked into such mind boggling platforming puzzles. Which is brilliant. It’s a testament to its design, and that ‘eureka’ moment you have when you finally solve one of these puzzles is tremendously satisfying.
Metrico+ challenges you to conquer six zones from a map that strongly resembles a subway. Each zone is uniquely coloured in pastel shades or vector polygons, with infographic pie charts, geometric shapes and lines forming, fading and flickering to life in the background. It takes place on a 2D plane, although the camera occasionally tilts to show everything is in fact rendered in 3D. It’s an attractive but understated look, like playing Limbo through the eyes of someone obsessed with geometry, and your task is very simple: to reach the end of each zone by moving from left to right, utilising very basic abilities to manipulate obstacles and pass them. But of course, as with any good puzzle game, it turns out to be anything but simple.
Your abilities start off limited to movement, but how you move changes the environment around you. Running to the right or left can cause platforms to move, or columns to ascend or descend. Meanwhile, jumping can sometimes have no effect, whilst other times it can move these obstacles in different ways. Figuring out how you need to move in order to get passed a set of obstacles is the challenge, and to begin with, with such a limited set of abilities, it’s a matter of trial and error to see how you affect your environment. Then, after some clever jumping and strafing, as you shuffle through gaps between columns, climb steps you’ve formed, or ride platforms that move as you do, it’s on to the next complex set of barriers. Everything interacts with each other and reacts to you, and conquering them truly gets your grey matter working.
As you start a new zone, you’re given a new ability, introducing you to a whole new way you can affect your environment. At one point you’re given the ability to restart at checkpoints, allowing you to gradually solve a set of obstacles, resetting your position without resetting the world. Later still you encounter things that, for lack of a better term, are best described as enemies, which you can shoot with a new ability. But shooting them once can have a different affect than shooting them enough to kill them, and even you being ‘killed’ by these enemies can affect the environment in another, unique way. Or perhaps even dying from falling down a bottomless pit causes the environment to move in some way. Figuring it all out and how your abilities are connected to the puzzle is part of the challenge and part of the fun.
However, the time it takes for you to encounter a puzzle that’s seemingly insurmountable is very short. Metrico+ quickly becomes difficult, however, with your abilities, even in the late game, being so limited, it’s not so much frustrating when you hit these barriers but more introspective. It’s in these moments where you don’t have mechanics or obscure logic to blame, only yourself for not being able to decode the puzzle in front of you. It’s quite humbling really, and where Metrico+ truly shows off its clever design.
However, between zones are surreal moments seemingly challenging what it means to have free will, but it’s abstract enough to not really say or show anything coherent. It’s intriguing, and serves as a fairly effective way to compel you to finish each zone; to see what your simple avatar suffers next in these sequences, but it’s also confusing and ultimately disappointing. Additionally, there were a couple of instances where the platforms weren’t reacting how we think they should, when we compared them to other versions of the game on other platforms.
Metrico+ is a mighty clever puzzle platformer that will certainly have you head scratching. Its six zones add up to a mere afternoon of puzzle solving, but it’s a highly satisfying set of brain teasers to work through, within an aesthetic that’s unique. Meanwhile, the intrinsic nature of cause and effect between your avatar and the environment is terrific to explore.
Thanks to Xbox and Digital Dreams for supporting TiX