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