HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewMETRO QUESTER Review

METRO QUESTER Review

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KEMCO, eh? Every now and then they like to do something outside of their comfort zone (which is retro styled JRPGs, in case you’ve forgotten or have been living under a rock). Sometimes these games work, like in Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom, and sometimes they don’t, like Raging Bytes.

The latest game to escape from their stable is METRO QUESTER, and while a lot of their games are in a retro style, this takes that to the next level. So, given that this isn’t an RPG, despite what the game’s store page says, what should we make of it? Well, come with me to the future and we’ll attempt to find out. 

metro quester review 1
METRO QUESTER takes you to Tokyo

METRO QUESTER is set in an apocalyptic future (is there any other kind?); an apocalyptic future designed by a manga artist by the name of Kazushi Hagiwara. The year is 20XX and a deadly virus has spread. The air is polluted, the water is stagnant, and now, just to put the cherry on the cake, it appears that horrific monsters have started to emerge from underground. With all that in mind, you’d think that the last place that anyone would want to go is into the abandoned Metro systems, wouldn’t you? However, it’s the Metro system of Tokyo in which we head, going deeper underground than should be strictly healthy to see what we can find. Will we find the answer to the problems the world faces? Well, we can explore in hope, can’t we…

As I mentioned at the top, METRO QUESTER has gone back to ad even earlier period than the rest of the multitude of other KEMCO games, and the first thing it put me in mind of was an old ZX Specturm game, without the twenty minutes of screeching while it loads. 

The presentation of things feels quite strange, with a very limited palette of mainly green in the main screen. The action is viewed from above, and as we explore, we can find various items, and even monsters. Now, the monsters pretty much all look the same on the main screen, just different colours to indicate their difficulty, from blue up to red. The battle screen, when you get into a scrap, is also simplicity itself, with your character’s portraits lined up on the left hand side of the screen and the enemies arrayed on the right. There are no voice overs, but there is some pretty good music that fits the action perfectly. All in all, the presentation is about as basic as it can get. Even the design of the characters and monsters, while undeniably stylish, features no animation whatsoever. You really have to see METRO QUESTER in action to understand just how retro it is. 

The actual gameplay is very much of two halves – combat and exploration. Exploration is an odd thing, all things considered. We have to wander around the place, trying to find enough food to keep the team going, all while hunting for “Purification Fuel” which we need to keep exploring. Once we run out of said fuel, we are returned to base, no questions asked. 

metro quester review 2
Most definitely a different KEMCO take

Yet whilst out there, there are various things to check out, in addition to the aforementioned resources – breakable walls, (which may or may not contain monsters), vaults, new characters to recruit and also new campsites to locate. Once a new campsite has been located, you can move your base there, meaning that it then becomes possible to explore from the new area more easily. It does take multiple amounts of food to move the base, however, so you can’t just do it willy-nilly. Basically, wander about, either avoiding fights or getting into scrapes, and then the other half of the game comes into play. The fighting. 

This fighting system also requires very little interaction from us. At the beginning of the fight, each of our five team members can select up to three actions to perform, depending on how many action points they have available. That can be used across three attacks, three defensive or support actions, or a mixture of both. Queueing up attacks like this is a bit weird, especially as the enemies can also stack up attacks. Once you set the round in action, it then plays out and we see what is left at the end of the round. From there, rinse and repeat until either we win, or the enemies do and we wake up in the base, minus food and fuel, of course. If someone is knocked out, but we still win the fight, then it costs more fuel to get them back on their feet, and this then has a knock on effect on how long the exploration side of things can continue. 

The combat is both incredibly simple and quite complicated in equal measure, with a Hate system in play that makes the enemies concentrate their attacks on a certain character. So, if you have a tank, able to absorb a lot of punishment, making them Hated is a great way to take the heat off the more fragile characters. With multiple classes of characters to find and recruit, and a wide roster of characters in total, there is always a good mix to be found. It could be said that getting the right team with complimentary skills is quite important. 

metro quester review 3
Weirdly compelling.

The gameplay found in METRO QUESTER is weirdly compelling, and while there are a range of achievements that aren’t awfully challenging, pleasingly they are related to progress through the game; this means there is always something to strive for. Trying to find new areas and equipment, levelling your characters up when they accrued enough EXP points, and fielding the best team you can is oddly moreish. Whatever the gaming X factor is, METRO QUESTER seemingly has it. 

Perhaps it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for gamers looking to take a trip down memory lane, METRO QUESTER is a nice departure from the usual KEMCO style. As a whole, it just works.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Amazing retro style
  • Action is compelling
  • Trying to explore the whole map isn’t a game of moments
Cons:
  • Spectrum-style graphics may not suit everyone
  • Battles can seem arbitrary
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 December 2023 | £16.74
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Amazing retro style</li> <li>Action is compelling</li> <li>Trying to explore the whole map isn’t a game of moments</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Spectrum-style graphics may not suit everyone</li> <li>Battles can seem arbitrary</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 December 2023 | £16.74</li> </ul>METRO QUESTER Review
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