Metrico Review (PS Vita)

     The Playstation Vita exclusive Metrico initially caught my attention with its extremely minimal design, there's always some appeal in taking infographics and making them interactive in a unique way.  However, after playing the game I must say it has a lot of drawbacks the simplistic looks can't overcome.  With the visuals being so clean and simple, I wonder how they managed to have such a flawed system of interaction.


     The visual world of Metrico is its biggest draw.  Comprised of graphs, charts, and percentages that shift as you traverse the landscape it has a special wonder that is peculiar, subtle, and alluring.  Simple art design has gone a long way here to fill a whole world with wonderful graphs.

     The biggest hurdle Metrico suffers is through the compounding problem of input and motion controls.  Each level adds another option, another way to change the world around you.  The puzzle-platforming should've been as simple as the graphics, but they are not.  Just because the Vita has a plethora of control options doesn't mean you need to use them all.  If it works intuitively, go for it, but here there is no such common movement scheme- each new puzzle from level 3 on starts changing how each individual motion alters the world.  One area moving left moves things left, in the next area moving left might result in platforms falling off the screen.  There is no consistency.  Every movement or action the character makes changes the landscape and not always in the same ways forcing you to reacquaint yourself with the actions and reactions in every single puzzle.  It adds a level of trial and error that gets quite irritating at times.
     This might not be a problem had they added a hint system.  There is a sense of accomplishment from completing the puzzles, but when you are stuck it does get a bit frustrating.  There were a few times I ended up quitting and coming back the next day with a fresh perspective from time away and I retried and passed, but not everyone is so patient.
     Finding the solutions to these puzzles can often bring satisfaction when you are forced to try all available motion and action options, then stop to consider how to implement each option's reaction in the landscape- but the cost is having to use some unwieldy controls, and some very awkward Vita handling  Holding the Vita in strange and uncomfortable ways to avoid altering the puzzle itself.  So it becomes a large issue to try and balance the actual system as well as play the game when even the most minute motion causes a change.

     The good side of this is that everything you need to solve every puzzle is provided on screen.  The world designed grows quite complex but the difficulty here is fair, albeit occasionally frustrating, but mostly fair.  Handling the controls can be a pain once the later levels control schemes have been added making solving some more of a pain than puzzle fun.  It is a strange balance of ingenious puzzles and poor control response- especially the rear-touchpad for aiming when shooting.

     Had Metrico focused on the simplicity its visuals promised they might've had a subtle and moving game.  Because they thought it apt to dump a graph mountain of controls on players it makes us want to abandon the game instead of finishing it.

     Metrico asks us a question- do we play just for the elegantly charming puzzles' sake or just set it aside because of the technical fumbles you have to put up with to play it?  There's a lot of experimental things going on here making use of every aspect and mechanical novelty the Vita has to offer, but sometimes that winds up being a bit of a mess, which is how the last couple levels of Metrico felt.  In the end, I got this free on PS Plus and it exhibits a wealth of originality so I would say that yes, it is worth playing despite the issues- it's worth playing for the charm.

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