Metrico Review – Flawed Execution (Vita)
They say not to take work home with you, but if you’re job consists of graphs, charts, and infographics, Metrico is putting all of that right into a platformer on your PlayStation Vita. It’s hard to explain without experiencing for yourself, but Metrico is what would happen if your Microsoft Excel data could output to a game. While conceptually intriguing, the execution is riddled with flaws that hold Metrico back from being anything more than a mediocre, yet unique puzzle-platformer.
Metrico’s charts and infographics that make up the platforms of the world are all based on input from the player, meaning that there may be a high ledge, with a piece of a graph that says zero out of four. Experimenting with the controls may reveal that jumping activates this elevator, so we hop on and jump four times to raise it up and reach the higher platform. This is a very basic example of the type of puzzle that you’ll find in Metrico, with many puzzles requiring the coordination of multiple inputs and parts of the infographic to fully make your way through. Being in the air may cause the door at the end of the puzzle to begin closing, so you will want to navigate that particular area while avoiding being in the air if possible. Perhaps death is what makes that platform move a little closer to you. There is a vast array of input possibilities that continue to grow over the course of the games six levels, and experimentation will be required to find out what exactly makes each puzzle tick.
As a Vita title, Metrico uses the wide variety of Vita features to impact the puzzles in the game. The problem lies in this requiring that players use features that may be impossible to use, such as the camera. Not only is light and dark input in the camera used in some puzzles, but eventually color differentiation is required. One such puzzle nearly had me entirely giving up, as the Vita camera recognized my blue jeans as red and I could not get it to register the color blue entering the camera. Fortunately my wife turned on the PS4 just as I was ready to quit and I had the genius idea of using the blue lightbar on the controller. While this worked for the input to alter the elements of the level, I then had to actually make it through the puzzle, which was another chore to complete.
The platforming is clunky, with a bad jump making you have to restart a puzzle. This is extremely frustrating when it was already difficult enough to find the right angle to hold your Vita, or the right combination of light and colors to move platforms where you needed them. Watching that jump just miss the edge and fail was disheartening and made the experience more of a chore to push myself through than fun to play overall.
Puzzle games should make you feel accomplished and good when you figure out a solution. You should be eager to go onto the next puzzle. The puzzles and platforming necessary to make it through puzzles should not be so difficult and frustrating that the only thing you feel upon completing a certain section is just a sense of relief. Metrico largely fails in offering accomplishment. Unlike the other puzzle platforming game that hit the PSN this week, The Swapper, I did not want more. I simply wanted Metrico to end. I was able to complete the entire game — all six worlds, in a single sitting that could not have lasted more than a couple of hours.
Fortunately I was at home while playing this game. If I had been out and about, there’s a good chance I would not have been able to complete all of the puzzles. Normally I play my Vita in bed too, which would have caused problems with completing a few of the puzzles that required light and colors, or even being held at awkward angles. What’s odd is that this is a game for a handheld that is meant to be on-the-go, yet many inputs limit what you can do within the game while away from a controlled environment. I’m not going to wander around a coffee shop, Vita in hand, looking for something of a specific color to have my camera see. Use of the Vita’s features in this way is the wrong method to utilize them. I commend them for at least making an effort to use all of the portable’s features, but requiring certain things that may not be physically possible is a huge pitfall for your game. This feature set should be supplemental to your game, rather than required — more like how Tearaway used it.
For all of its failings, Metrico still makes a good effort. Some of the puzzles are fun and not too taxing, but if the puzzles had focused more on reward and accomplishment than on precise platforming and forced use of the Vita’s inputs, there may have been a great game in there, The concept of using metrics based on your character’s own movements to manipulate a living infographic that you need to platform on is one that sounds great in design, but the execution of said concept needs to be tweaked before I could recommend that anyone spend much time with Metrico. Sadly, it does feel like you’re just bringing work home with you.
Review copy obtained through PlayStation Plus subscription. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.