It’s not everyday you receive a game that tries to fuse together two genres so unfamiliar to each other. It makes you slightly disorientated at first, as if you’ve ventured into an amusement arcade, seeing a Pokemon/Dance Dance Revolution collaboration machine. It should never happen. However The Metronomicon developed by Puuba has attempted such a feat- using role playing elements, while integrating them into a rhythm game.
As newly graduated masters of “Rhythmic Combat Arts”, you are sent by the Grand Master to various locations with the goal of vanquishing various evil, dancing fiends, who have hijacked the land. When entering a track, you will take control of four graduates simultaneously. Each of the graduates have unique individual attributes and elemental abilities that can be used against the gyrating foes. Any apprehension I had about these two genres coinciding with each other evaporated once the first note cascaded down my screen. Entering as a party of four, each individual has their own note highway. As you progress through the song, you will encounter numerous enemies, that can be defeated by hitting the correct notes to perform an attack. Metronomicon is not just a simple case of note streaks. Elements and knowledge of your party’s attacks are the key factors to succeeding. Enemies will conform to the five different element types. Fire, Electric, Water, Earth, and Physical. These elements also form your party’s different attacks, so its vital to learn each of the elements’ different weaknesses. Knowing these weaknesses will inflict greater damage to the enemy, earning you a higher score and more experience. You can’t hold back, either; waiting too long to finish an enemy off will give them just enough time to call for back up, allowing them to inflict more damage to your party.
Having numerous highways on screen gives the immediate impression that Metronomicon is a complex and hectic experience, and while increasing the difficulty will have your fingers cramping, starting out on the easier difficulty allows you to ease in. You will predominately use the D Pad and face buttons to hit the notes. When the notes are centred around one set of controls, the game is easy to control, but as you start to increase the difficulty, it introduces more complex notes that forces you to use both the d pad and the face buttons together. It’s kind of the tap your head and rubbing your belly effect. Because your focus is on one set of controls, as soon as the other set are introduced, you start to lose all co-ordination. There is an option in the settings that changed the note icons themselves to the colours on the face buttons, which made it a little easier, however mastering the combination notes as well as swapping between characters and defeating your foes can become a little overwhelming.
Each area has a list of songs for you to attempt, accompanied by a song difficulty and enemy difficulty for each track. This system might seem generic (venturing down the list will produce more difficult songs, alongside more advance enemies), but with Metronomicon that is not the case. Certain songs may be easier to play, but enemies you encounter throughout the song will be tougher to defeat, leaving you to strategically think about what characters and attacks you have to use. The role-playing elements also play a vital role in allowing you to progress through. There will always be a time where you hit that stumbling block; you try numerous time to complete the track, but the enemies are too powerful. With Metronomicon those failures will still earn you experience for all of your characters, allowing you to become more powerful and learn new combat attacks, eventually turning those numerous failures into successes.
Once you have completed the first world of Story mode, new aspects of the game will open up. Arena mode offers an array of different challenges that rewards you with various items. The challenges range from just surviving the track, to defeating a current number of enemies. The challenges also have a preset party, with preset moves so you’re unable to swap and change to benefit yourself. The workshop will also be open, where you can use your ‘street cred’ to buy upgrades. The workshop seems a little bare, with only a limited number of upgrades to be purchased. After each track, as well as receiving experience your party will also be rewarded with upgrades that are specific for each individual character. These vary in element types and can be swapped to your preferred order.
Metronomicon may not feature any of the big names in the music industry, but the songs themselves will certainly leave a lasting impression. The songs aren’t great, and the notes appearing on screen don’t always correlate with the tempo of the songs, but my god are they catchy as hell. Before writing this review, I have had “I thought the future would be cooler” on a constant loop, sucking the life out of me like a leech. Metronomicon is bright and flashy, producing some wonderful and wacky characters.