From the screenshots, you might be thinking that Metrico+ is just a game where you walk around trippy graph-laden powerpoint slides you’ve seen in an eccentric school or work presentation. You might have even heard about Metrico; its earlier iteration was once a PS4 exclusive two years ago, but has officially made its launch onto Steam last Tuesday. As usual, the difference between the two is that the + version benefits from a few more puzzles and zones. This might seem like a paltry offering from the two year transition it took from console to PC, but I’m here to convince you that its well-founded mechanics and vivacious vistas were worth the port of this short but solid puzzler.

But just to rip the band-aid off, I’ll state that the single frustrating flaw in this game is its story. Although I’ve simply come to terms that there really isn’t one, there’s fragments in there that hints at some sort of theme or motif that is so esoteric that I can’t quite grasp it. Between the puzzling levels are stages where you cross into a hallway and open a door that doubles as a mirror, where you see your character transcend his own body into a vibrantly colored copy of yourself. You then go through the door and submit yourself to a machine that slowly turns your body into a mechanical figure. Perhaps this explains the addition of new techniques you learn later on (how to shoot projectiles or teleport), but that’s as far as I got to comprehending it.

But pay no mind to it. The real entertainment is in the levels, as it should be. The games I appreciate the most in the puzzle genre are the ones that can craft puzzling environments where there are multiple facets to a puzzle, and you receive feedback with every action that you make. Having said that, Metrico’s focus on quantitative data and technical feedback systems leads to an exacting style of play that is both challenging, yet forgivable. Restarting parts of a level is not only encouraged, but required to complete parts of the puzzle.

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I will say that how the game teaches you its mechanics is a bit too minimalist (bordering on the line of non-existent), and at some points caused me to double back on a walk-through to remember that I could perform certain actions. The puzzles are very logical, and I only relied on a walk through a handful of times. Although I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur of the genre, I think it’s great that they had some brain benders in there. Even if you had to rely on a guide, you would definitely appreciate the level of logic and thought that went into it.

For a majority of the puzzles, none of them were a cake walk. More often than not, I finished every section of a level after minutes of failure and seemingly anomalous breakthroughs. The kick for me was in how the environments excelled in laying out all of the information to you. For example, a bar would go as far to the right as you moved right (but would stop if you were walking in the opposite direction) or another bar would go up for each jump. If you jumped anymore than 6 times, you wouldn’t complete the level because the bar would be too high to jump over. So you’d have to trace your steps to think about how you would get past the bar with a set number of jumps.

As the levels progressed, more variables were added. No elements of the game ever felt truly repetitive, as the technical nature of the obstacles were truly original. There were projectiles you had to kill, replays to consider, and finicky ricochet shots that could really melt your mind. (As a side note, you’d be better off playing this with a mouse and keyboard as opposed to a controller due to how precise some of these shots need to be.) If you pay attention to the systems and don’t over rely on a guide, you’ll end up finishing each level with a bit more confidence in your own intellect.

The feel-good nature of the puzzles themselves is matched with colorful and airy scenery that takes from minimalist and low-poly art styles. I wouldn’t go out of my way to say that it was masterfully done, but that it worked. It wasn’t a hindrance to puzzle construction, and was easy on the eyes. I enjoyed its wide range of color usage. The game will run well despite the resolution, and offers few graphical tweaks aside from a 3-tier quality rating and a resolution tuner.

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Although I really couldn’t pigeonhole Metrico’s music into a genre, I’ll just say that it primarily focuses on electronic music that caters to the down-tempo genres. Occasionally, you’ll hear some quasi-angelic but nevertheless wonky vocals. The sound effects also fall into this range of 80s electronic riffs that provided some memorable sound queues for when you were performing actions in the game. I will say that the overall sound for Metrico+ is unique and experimental, as fitting to the content of the game. It works, but none of it really wowed me.

Metrico+ is definitely a puzzle experience worth having if you haven’t played the original. Despite its brief campaign (~3-4 hours) and the odd diabolical challenge, the game can be highly rewarding. The puzzles feel fresh and innovative with a good enough visual and sound ensemble to boot. I wouldn’t exactly pay retail for it, but its a cheap price of admission for fanatics of the genre.

Metrico+ was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.

Developer: Digital Dreams V.O.F | Publisher: Digital Dreams V.O.F | Genre: Indie, Puzzle | Platform: PC, PS4 | Release Date: August 23, 2016

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