Statistics have seldom been cool. Even when displayed in the greatest form as part of a scrumptious sounding, yet inedible, pie chart you won’t see an awful lot of fanfare. Digital Dreams may just be able to make infographics more important and exciting than ever before, as they have developed a puzzling video game with a heavy influence of these visual representations that no doubt plagued our school days. Step forward Metrico+.
Having already released on other platforms last year, Metrico+ won’t be new to everyone, but for those who haven’t played it elsewhere, let me attempt to explain the concept. You control a silhouette-like figure – male or female – and are thrust into a blank canvas of a world. Doesn’t seem very exciting eh? That was my immediate thought too, but then a wiggle of the thumbstick and a leap into the air, and the whole world started to take shape. Every input has an effect on your surroundings in this 2D side-scroller, which blends both platformer and puzzle elements together.
There are six worlds in total, each of which is split seamlessly into many rather obstructive puzzles on your journey through a world. At first it’ll break the ideas in gently, where a bar (similar to those found in bar charts) could move upwards after merely jumping or moving the character side-to-side. Then, as you progress, the ability to respawn, teleport and shoot, are all thrown into the mix and all have an important part to play. The controls are nice and simple thankfully, because all the brainpower you possess – and a smidgen of patience – is needed to succeed.
Right off the bat it is apparent that the developers don’t want to hold your hand throughout the experience. Instead it’ll introduce a useful button to press when a new world is explored and it’s down to you to figure out the input’s purpose during proceedings. There’s absolutely no dialogue, and despite some rather strange mid-level sections where the main character appears to show signs of illness, the story seems to be lacking somewhat; if present at all.
The nature of the game forces you to adopt the trial and error method for solving the problems ahead. Sometimes the problem itself isn’t clear, and so the platforms could be out of reach before you even get what’s going on. Fortunately, to reset a puzzle takes very minimal time, a few seconds at most. Once you figure it out you’re often left with the notion of ‘why didn’t I see that?’, mainly because the solutions are all very logical as long as you work out which motions or actions have an effect. It’s only difficult until you grasp the concept and embrace the outside of the box thinking.
Mathematicians will revel in the design of Metrico+ as all sorts of visual representations for statistics are present; from bar charts to pie charts, and even the inclusion of box and whisker plots – yeah, they went there… that’s hardcore. A whole host of geometric shapes populate the backdrops which, when aided by the pastel colour palette and serene soundtrack, help to create a lovely atmosphere to allow the mind to focus on the problems at hand.
All that said though, and as an achievement hunter, it is deeply disturbing to have completed a game and only acquire a minimal amount of the overall Gamerscore. This is because many of the achievements have extra objectives to perform during the completion of a world and speed-running will also net you a few unlocks. I’m more than happy to do it all again as fast I can to garner the full capacity of Gamerscore, which is testament to the game.
Digital Dreams have brought a fascinating idea to life in Metrico+, delivering a truly unique blend of puzzle solving, infographics and platforming. Who’d have known such a concept would’ve worked so well? It’s difficult enough to test your handling of problematic situations and invoke true enjoyment upon finding the solutions. Each of the game’s mechanics are drip fed at ideal times to keep it from getting stale, whilst the developers are able to leave a few effective actions under wraps to find by you. The age-old problem of a puzzler lacking in storytelling exists here, or maybe the confusing cutscenes just went over my head, nevertheless it isn’t a necessity, but still it would’ve certainly added an extra layer to a great game to tell a good story too.
Looks can be deceiving, and from an outsider’s point of view, Metrico+ could be seen as bland and basic. That couldn’t be further than the truth, as it is in fact engaging, very clever and creates a sense of melancholy to balance out any moments of minor frustration. It is no doubt a great addition to the Xbox One library and one you should surely be picking up.