Let’s dance, and fling some fireballs.
Having spent some time with a preview version of Puuba and Kasedo Games’ upcoming The Metronomicon, which is due to land on Steam in September, I have learned two things. Firstly, it seems that the RPG genre can pretty much be combined with any other genre for interesting results. Secondly, even in videogames, I can’t dance.
Rhythm games have been my videogaming nemesis for as long as I have been gaming. From flailing about on a dance mat at an arcade, to tying my fingers into knots on a controller, I achieve nothing but personal embarrassment every time I play a rhythm game. I lack that single minded focus that is required to hit the notes at exactly the right time over an extended period. I get sidetracked, forget my place, lose the rhythm or hit a wrong note and then struggle to get back into the flow. It’s a burden I have to live with.
But then, along came The Metronomicon, a hybrid RPG and rhythm game. I have played and enjoyed other RPG hybrids in the past, so I figured “what could possibly go wrong?”.
As is often the case in RPGs, The Metronomicon is set in a fantasy world which is under threat from forces of evil and the player will have to control a group of likely heroes and vanquish this evil. What is new in The Metronomicon is that the heroes happen to have just graduated from a school of magic dancing, and the evil presents itself as, basically, anti-social dance parties with monsters. As a concept, it is hilarious. In practice, it is an incredibly well thought out setting for a rhythm RPG game that works and drives the game forward. The different heroes are all set with their own personalities and as the player progresses through the game, they come across yet more characters that each bring something new having been fleshed out with their own little quirks alongside their special skill sets. Even the monsters that the players will have to face off against bring personality as they sway to the sound of the music while wearing their best party clothes.
Players take a party of four heroes into battle, and as they progress new heroes will be added to the available roster, and they come in different classes, such as warrior or mage, so the player can tailor their team to whatever threat they are facing. The RPG mainstays of leveling up the characters to improve their abilities and equipping new weapons or items to make them stronger, are all present in The Metronomicon, allowing players yet more ways to customise their team and out dance the various party animals and monster bosses that they encounter through the levels.
When it comes to the gameplay, that’s when things get rhythmic. With the team set out on the screen next to each other, and whatever adversary alongside them, a grid will appear above one of the heroes and notes start sliding down. The player will have to hit the corresponding button, either the cursor buttons or WASD, at the right time. So far, so rhythm game. However, each character will have three moves assigned to slot one, two and three. Which moves are assigned where is entirely down to the player and forms a tactical side of the game, as a slot three move will be more powerful than a slot one move, for example, and elemental factors come into play, making some moves more or less powerful against different enemies.
Anyway, to launch a level one move, the player simply has to hit the right number of notes and then either miss a note, or change to a different character using the shift keys. To go for a level two move, just keep hitting those notes. There is even a group move that can be activated by the space bar to further spice things up. It is not that complicated really, in theory at least.
In practice, things happen really quickly. Not only is the player going to have to keep hitting those notes at the right time, but they also need to monitor which move they are currently working towards with whatever character they have chosen, while also keeping an eye on the enemies health and the group health. It’s all a bit frantic, and trying to perform specific moves, such as a healing spell when the health is getting low, will take a stronger mind than mine.
The music in The Metronomicon is an impressive mix of electronic and indie tracks. While I must admit that I didn’t recognise any of the tunes that were playing as I tried my best to defeat partying monsters, I never found a track that I didn’t enjoy .
So, The Metronomicon seems set to be a tough game, at least for gamers like me who totally lack rhythm and focus. But it also looks to be a feature packed game, with side quests and even arena battles to further the longevity and provide epic loot. For the more agile or nimble fingered, dance mats and plastic guitars are also supported. There are even going to be custom dance pads made specifically for the game, so players will have plenty of input options.
Despite being absolutely rubbish at the game, I must admit that playing The Metronomicon was great fun. The game is set to launch this September and, combining great visuals, a quirky setting and compelling gameplay, looks set to be a hit. If you fancy mixing your rhythm gameplay with some fireballs, or fancy vanquishing some day-glo green spandex wearing monsters, keep an eye out for The Metronomicon – it’s a party in heavy plate armour.
Find the Metronomicon on Steam.