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Innovation is a word that's flung around in video games. People want it, crave it, call a video game innovative when it's only half-innovative, maybe even less so, out of desperation, exaggeration, or a flight of fancy. Metrico seems like a simple platformer with moving rectangular blocks and a solidly colored geometry that looks like it comes from Paint, but its design, as one dev from Gaijin games said at a recent Vita event, "retranslates the language of video games." Now that's true innovation.
Metrico is a reminder, in essence, of the PlayStation classic Intelligent Qube, which tests players to move a featureless human around a floating platform and clear a set of rolling cubes in the lowest number of moves. Here, the idea is similar: move a featureless human in a side-scrolling platformer and clear a set of obstacles that change depending on mathematical expressions.
The integration of mathematics and infographics throughout the environment can seem scary at first to the common player (as I'm sure a part of my stereotypical Asian self probably lives here). Pillars are labelled with percentages, platforms are labelled with "x =" and "y =" equations, and the background is pinned with spinning pyramids and scatterplotted by a bewildering forest of polygons.
But there's a method to the geometrical madness. When you approach a puzzle, the first thing to figure out is how each pillar and platform reacts to your inputs. Some blocks might move left whenever your character moves right, while some columns might descend into the ground whenever your character jumps and ascend when your character is idle. It's important to note that these objects, including pie charts and line graphics, predominantly change depending on your actions. On top of that, you need the reflexes to time your jumps and the patience to react with deliberate precision.
Metrico is still in its early stages of development at Digital Dreams, but it promises to launch on Vita.