Metrico is dreadfully clever. It's one of those games that has such a smart idea at its heart, you have to wonder why it has never been done before.
It's a puzzle game, but it looks like a platformer, and bits of the world - mostly platforms, pillars, and bridges - change in relation to things your character does.
A block might rise up each time you jump, so you have to limit your leaps or the platform will be too high to reach. Or a gate might rise and fall in relation to your coordinates, so you need to find a clever way to move or you'll get trapped.
The only comparison I can think of is that section in Braid where the enemies and obstacles only move when you do. So take that idea and twist and turn and morph it in a hundred ways and you've got Metrico.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Digital Dreams introduces a new concept in each chapter. Level two lets you respawn at checkpoints to reset all attributes, and level three shows you how to shoot bullets, to kill enemies.
Chapters four, five, and six have even more ideas, though I wouldn't want to spoil them. Suffice to say that Metrico uses almost every bit of hardware on the Vita, and in some seriously inventive ways.
It's imaginative, though not always elegant. I've never been a fan of the Vita's rear touch panel, and Metrico hasn't won me over. Aiming a bullet by tickling the handheld's back is awkward and cumbersome.
Uses of the word Metrico: 8
All of these are ideas are used in more than 100 puzzles, which are laid out one after another in six long lines.
The puzzles can be very difficult. And they can be devious, in a way that encourages you to imagine the developers cackling at your pitiful attempts to unravel their puzzles.
But they're not unfair or frustrating. There's no backtracking, so everything you need to solve each puzzle is on screen. And the comfortable controls mean it's never that difficult to implement your ideas.
And while there are a few red herrings to throw you off the scent, Metrico never actually cheats or tricks you. The puzzles are simply hard because they're hard, not because of artificial barriers.
They're expertly designed so you'll initially try the most obvious answer, then scratch your head for a bit, then try a few other things, then have that wonderfully satisfying eureka moment when your brain pieces together the solution.
It's been a while since I audibly shouted "aha!" when playing a game (Toki Tori 2+ on the Wii U, if you were wondering), which is the gold standard for good puzzle design if you ask me.
The game has beautiful presentation, with lush pastel tones, a new visual palettes in each stage, and a haunting, synth-heavy ambient score by Dutch composer Palmbomen.
And the whole game is inspired by infographics and data so the levels look like dynamic bar charts, and the puzzle select screen looks like a transport map.
There's also a nagging feeling that there's more game beneath the surface, just out of reach.
For example, there's a social feature whereby it tracks the percentage of players who took the blue or red door at the end of the level. And while I've completed the game, I've only earned two trophies and the other nine are hidden.
Average reading time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds
This stuff might be too well hidden for its own good. Metrico is not the sort of game you can play through twice (without a good few years in between to forget all the answers), so most players will never see all the secrets.
But it doesn't really matter. As nothing more than string of ingenious puzzles, Metrico is a smart and stunning game. And it's always mixing things up to surprise you, and coming up with fresh ways to make you feel like a dolt, and then like a genius.
As long as you're happy to do little more than solve puzzle after puzzle after puzzle - and aren't looking for exploration, story, or action - go get stuck into this game.
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