By Andrew Skelton (Outfoxed)
Have you ever been playing an RPG and thought, “Gee, I wonder what this would be like with some Rock Band thrown into the mix?” Or playing a rousing game of Dance Dance Revolution and considered, “You know, if only there were monsters and bosses to fight?” Well, if you have, that’s weird, but that’s okay because The Metronomicon, developed by Puuba and published by Kasedo Games, has you covered. When monsters born of strange dance magicks are summoned, will you be the one to rhythm them back to whence they grooved?
Rhythm is a Dancer
After a brief introduction to your first four characters, you’re thrown into a tutorial on how the mechanics of the game work. If you’ve ever played the aforementioned DDR or Rock Band/Guitar Hero, you’ll instantly recognize the scheme. If not, you must follow the beat of the music as it falls from the top of the screen, pressing the corresponding button when it reaches the bar near the bottom. Too early or too late, and you’ve missed that note, and your score suffers.
The twist in The Metronomicon, however, is that you control four characters, and each has their own rhythm bar. Don’t worry; you’re not penalized for missing beats on characters you’re not active on. Each character has up to two levels of rhythm they can use (a third is unlocked later), either automatically by matching enough beats, or manually by switching characters (using left and right shift by default) after you’ve reached the desired level. These levels are plainly visible while tapping to the beat, too, so no guesswork is required!
You Got a Rhythm Game in my RPG …
Your first four characters follow a standard RPG party: tank, melee DPS, magic DPS, and healer. Unsurprising, the tank is designed to take hits for the party, as well as lock down your enemies. The melee and ranged DPS are all about bringing the pain. The healer is about insta-killing everything within a 20 yard radius – just kidding, they heal. It’s a very utilitarian party, and (honestly) somewhat boring, vanilla group. Thankfully, there are plenty more characters to unlock throughout the game, and you can mix and match them as much as you want. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
In addition to that RPG trope, you’ve also a bevy of equipment you have the chance to earn after every stage. Some increase primary stats such as strength, hit points, and intellect, while others have more utilitarian uses such as lessening the chance your characters bleed (taking damage over time) or suffer from other likewise annoying debuffs. Speaking of debuffs, whatever your characters might be suffering from shows up right below them, giving you a quick heads up if you need to clear said debuffs with a healer. Of course, you can also gain positive benefits, and these also show up there. Despite being a little confusing at first, it becomes pretty simple to glance and see what’s going on, even while you’re attempting to follow the notes as they drop from above.
… You Got an RPG in my Rhythm Game!
Do you like music? Do you like games that have licensed music? Guess what The Metronomicon has: scores of licensed music! Yes, that was a music pun; deal with it. The Metronomicon is all about some known dance music, and they’ve the tracks to prove it. There’s even a handy feature for streamers and YouTubers that inform you if a track will get an infringement strike for posting publicly. It may not seem like much, but it definitely shows a commitment by the developers to protect people that may want to share the game with others who might not be invested in purchasing it themselves.
Like many other rhythm games, there are several difficulties you can attempt with each song. Easy tends to be just that. You’re generally only dealing with quarter notes here (for the less musically inclined, these are the red arrows in game). Medium adds a bit more of a challenge, as you’ve now many more eighth notes (blue arrows) and occasional sixteenths (yellow). Not to mention, you’re thrown chords much more frequently — this means two buttons at the same time, like up and down, or left and right simultaneously. Hard really amps up the difficulty, requiring you to carefully match the beat of the song. By the way, dance music tends to have complex beats, so have fun with that!
To Protect the World From Dance-vestation!
Monsters just want to have fun, too! Except their dance raves tend to destroy villages. You’ll be facing off against a weird assortment of creatures, from boogeying boogeymen, seductive succubi, and gibbering goblins. Toss in a dancing bear or two, and you can see where this game goes with its art style. While simple, everything dances while the music plays, even if it’s generally a simple shuffle. It adds character and charm, to be certain, and really sets the stage for the world.
Each stage of the game has quite a number of songs associated with it, including one boss track. Some of these tracks also include side-quests, which involve any number of objectives, from reaching a certain combo of notes hit, to making sure you defeat x amount of monsters. The rewards from these side quests are often quite worthwhile, some earning you street creds. These items are used to unlock further enhancements to the game, such as viewable achievements and more. As you progress through the story, you also unlock various buildings in your main hub area, including an arena where you’ll gain even more rewards by completing a number of exclusive challenges.
Final Verdict: Grood (3.5/5)
Considering how much I actually enjoyed The Metronomicon, my score may seem a bit odd. I thoroughly enjoyed the new mechanic to a rhythm game staple. Controlling multiple characters seemed fairly daunting at first, but like following the beats to the songs, it becomes second nature. The variety of songs chosen is also quite nice, ranging from technopop, to dance, to almost industrial in style. The RPG elements also fit in nicely, and provide a nice depth of gameplay. Choosing characters, equipment, and abilities to suit your playstyle can be very rewarding. Heck, there’s even global leaderboards for every song, so you can compare just how well you’ve done on each song, too!
There are downsides, however, which hamper the full enjoyment of the game. My biggest gripe is the time limit on the songs. I completely understand not wanting players to play a grueling nine minutes of Freebird, but a lot of the time, songs completely end when you’re really getting into the game. DDR took a nice approach to this, for instance; editing each song to fit into a nice 60-90 second window. Maybe it’s licensing (pretty sure it is), but it really makes things grind to a halt in a bad way. Still, it’s a quirky, enjoyable, amusing title that would definitely appeal to an audience that enjoyed the games it’s inspired from!