Metrico

EDGE - - GAMES -

Vita

Metrico is de­scribed by its mak­ers as a game about ‘in­fo­graph­ics and free will’, which is not only more aus­pi­cious than ‘2D in­die puz­zler’ but also rea­son­ably ac­cu­rate. It is, of course, also a 2D in­die puz­zler, but one built on an un­usu­ally strong aes­thetic of white space and data, the geo­met­ric vis­ual gram­mar of the tech-lit­er­ate and data-savvy.

The con­cept of free will sits close to the sur­face, too. In this blank void, tra­versed by a sil­hou­et­ted male or fe­male, num­bers im­pose them­selves ar­chi­tec­turally, form­ing a se­ries of traps and ob­sta­cles in the shape of bars and blocks, all part of a geog­ra­phy of in­for­ma­tion. It goes past philo­soph­i­cally sug­ges­tive and lands some­where near cli­part sym­bol­ism: our ar­che­typal peo­ple are thwarted and ha­rangued by num­bers and our ob­ses­sion with track­ing and record­ing them.

The puz­zling starts with a ba­sic ne­go­ti­a­tion of this land­scape. Soon things are hitched a con­cep­tual notch, and the blank val­ues at­tached to graphs and charts be­come mea­sure­ments of the limited set of ac­tions un­der your con­trol: jumps, move­ment, shoot­ing. Walk­ing to the right might ex­pand a hor­i­zon­tal per­cent­age bar, jump­ing might grow a ver­ti­cal one, shift­ing the pieces of puzzle around you un­til an exit ap­pears. Pro­gres­sion de­pends on iden­ti­fy­ing the re­la­tion­ship between cause and ef­fect – what are the el­e­ments of this trap record­ing? – and mas­ter­ing a sys­tem in which each in­put has a dou­ble value, mov­ing you and the ob­jects you’re nav­i­gat­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Some­times, how­ever, the ap­par­ently in­tended so­lu­tion feels like a fluke, tee­ter­ing on the edge of repli­ca­ble strat­egy. And the de­ci­sion to weave the game’s check­point sys­tem into the puz­zling it­self – where cer­tain sce­nar­ios re­quire re­sets and repo­si­tion­ing – mud­dies the clean sense of re­ward that’s the ex­pected pay­off from a suc­cess­fully solved puzzle.

Still, such ex­per­i­men­ta­tion is ev­i­dence of Metrico’s play­ful lay­er­ing of logic sys­tems, a lay­er­ing deep­ened by dust­ing off some of Vita’s typ­i­cally idle abil­i­ties. The rear screen is used for aim­ing, while later stages gauge the pitch and roll of the hand­held it­self in ad­di­tion to your char­ac­ter’s ac­tions. The re­sults vary: ro­tat­ing the screen to var­i­ous an­gles while try­ing to jump and aim can of­fer just the right sort of dis­ori­en­ta­tion, but the pileup of in­puts threat­ens to be­come over­whelm­ing.

The sum of all Metrico’s graphs and equa­tions is that it is more en­joy­able to think about than to play. The pinch of chaos in the con­trols and col­li­sion sys­tems means that grasp­ing prob­lems and find­ing solutions is the real joy, while im­ple­ment­ing those solutions of­ten feels a lit­tle too la­bo­ri­ous.

The sil­hou­et­ted player char­ac­ter’s ab­stract projectiles leave pro­trac­tor­spread an­gles im­pressed on the screen, the lan­guid ac­tion of the shots al­low­ing for pre­cisely timed jumps that fall between fir­ing and im­pact

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