Metrico (PS Vita) Impressions

It’s been a while since I’ve had to post one of these, but Impressions are reviews of games I didn’t finish for one reason or another. Metrico is a Playstation Vita puzzle game where your actions manipulate the environment in addition to moving your character.

I played through a few of the game’s worlds, and was thoroughly enjoying myself. The puzzles are incredibly intelligently crafted, and the unique style of having to manipulate both your character and the environment created some very satisfying ‘a-ha!’ moments. Getting stuck on a puzzle involves more than just thinking about your character’s position, but also all of your actions leading up to that point. Did you jump one too many times? Shoot one too many enemies? Do you need to jump on a platform more? The layers of difficulty extend beyond what most puzzle games offer and it was a fascinating experience that I enjoyed a great deal.

Fortunately the game operates on a checkpoint system and through a single button push you can return to the last checkpoint you were at, making it nearly impossible to get truly stuck. And, like with all other aspects, the game makes clever use of those checkpoints as well – sometimes the action you need to take to solve a puzzle is simply resetting to the checkpoint at the right time.

The game also has a very simplistic art style and a quiet, understated soundtrack that work together to create a very unique atmosphere. The imagery in the game is all very mathematic, making you feel like you’re on a flowchart or a presentation that is both being created and erased before your very eyes. This game is proof that graphics don’t need to be fancy to be eye-catching.

With all of that said, it’s time to get into the real heart of the matter: if I have so much that’s good to say about it, why didn’t I finish this game?

Well, the developers of this game built a puzzle that I have no desire to finish. You see, a ways into the game it starts asking you to use the gyro features on the Vita to manipulate the environment. At first it’s simple, tilt the console from side to side to get platforms to move. Not a big deal, still annoying because you can’t really see the screen well when it’s tilted at a 70 degree angle… but forgivable.

The deal-breaker for me came shortly after, when the game asked me to rotate the console while still controlling the character. If I had 100% confidence this was a one-off mechanic, I’d probably consider just working to get past it so I could move on… but thus far this game had been very good with reusing mechanics in clever ways, and I saw no reason to believe that trend wouldn’t continue… and the thought of having to rotate my Vita like that while playing just broke any desire I had to play the game. I don’t like the mechanic in general, but since I primarily play my Vita on the bus or while waiting at a bus stop and it’s simply not practical to use the console that way in those circumstances.

I was incredibly impressed by everything about this game up to that point. If you are able to tolerate the mechanic I just described and have any interest in a very clever and enjoyable puzzle game… then I cannot give a higher recommendation for Metrico. It is incredibly well made. I just have no desire to play my console while moving it, especially if I have to rotate it and try to somehow control my character all the while. It’s a mechanic that is neither fun nor rewarding for me, and it ruined my enjoyment of this otherwise fantastic puzzle game.

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