The first thing you are greeted with when booting up The Metronomicon for the first time is a small medieval town soaked in neon, complete with flashing lights and electronica music. The next thing is a bit of exposition, followed by a brief combat scenario that acts as a tutorial for the Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution inspired RPG. From the beginning, this game pitches itself as a note-hitting rhythm game and delivers on that promise for the duration of its playtime. With its colorful visuals, catchy music, and simple but challenging gameplay. The Metronomicon is bound to hook fans of the rhythm genre while its RPG mechanics and various modes give players a reason to keep coming back for more.
The story of The Metronomicon follows four students of a dancing combat school (of sorts) where they are trained to fight the monsters that have been invading their realm with the power of dance. The invading monsters have brought with them unruly music. They are throwing raves all across the realm, disturbing the peace, and unsettling the locals. It’s up to the player and their band of plucky adventurers to dance these monsters to death while meeting friends and gathering loot along the way. I may be paraphrasing a bit, but the story itself, while cheesy is lighthearted in a somewhat charming and occasionally funny way, is entirely forgettable. But that’s okay, because the meat of the game, the note hitting EDM infused RPG combat, stands on its own without any need for exposition. Gameplay is broken up into worlds, with each world containing a set handful of songs for the player to clear then unlocking a boss at the end. Once the boss is defeated, it’s time to shake the cramps out of your hands, watch a brief bit of story, then move on to the next world and song set. Regular battles are relatively short, lasting only the length of a song, which helps keep the game moving at a decent pace and staves off the boredom that can come with seeing the same environments/enemies over and over again.
If you’ve ever played Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, you already have a pretty good idea of how this game plays. Players will enter battle with a party of four heroes, each with their own unique set of skills and equipment. As monsters are defeated and songs are cleared, the heroes will level up, increasing their base stats, the strength of their skills, and learning some new skills along the way. While in combat, only one hero can act at a time, adding a layer of strategy and forethought to the game. Players will toggle between heroes, hit the notes in the track as they fall to the bottom (as in the aforementioned inspirations), and perform an attack, buff, or heal based on what skills the hero currently has equipped. Skills can be equipped in three slots – low, middle, and high. The higher the slot, the stronger the skill’s effect will be. Using different skills is based on how long the string of notes hit is on the selected hero. It only takes a few notes to hit each tier, but hitting higher tiers can be tricky, as any mistake will break your chain thereby defaulting your move to the last tier you successfully hit. There is a risk/reward aspect to character builds, as placing vital skills in higher tiers can both help immensely when activated, or cause you to effectively lose a turn if missed or interrupted. The RPG mechanics themselves are relatively shallow, but offer a reason to revisit previous areas in an attempt to slay more monsters than before and increase your overall score. Boss fights are where the game’s mechanics really shine; with unique mechanics and effects being thrown at heroes to keep the player constantly on guard. Some bosses may cover up a party member’s note track with a falling rock, blind a party member, make their notes spin in a disorienting way, or light character’s notes on fire, forcing the player to frantically clear them before their heroes take damage. On their own, neither the rhythm nor RPG mechanics would stand out, but when paired together, offer a compelling and unique style of gameplay.
There are a variety of game modes available to keep players coming back for more, grinding out levels, earning gear, and obtaining Street Cred (the game’s currency) to build new facilities and unlock gameplay features. Free play allows players to casually play any unlocked songs, while the Arena offers sets of challenges to push player’s skills in an effort to earn more loot to strengthen your heroes. There are side quests to complete and three difficulties for those looking for an even greater challenge. Those looking for a reason to dust off their USB guitars and DDR mats can also do so here as the game supports both input methods. But for all the content on offer, don’t come to this game expecting a deep and engrossing experience. Though it never deliberately bills itself as such, it’s easy to focus on and get lost in the RPG aspects of the game and find the experience to be lacking. This is a game intended for short play sessions, not lengthy binges. It is a rhythm game at its core, with a role playing layer on top, not vice versa. For as much variety and replayability as the RPG mechanics can add, they are relatively shallow and those looking for an RPG may leave disappointed. The songs may not appeal to everyone either, and while there is definitely some variety, expect a heavy dose of techno, house, electronica, and dubstep in most worlds. With expectations appropriately set and a healthy propensity for EDM, The Metronomicon is an easily recommendable game. Those looking for a fun, colorful, and lighthearted rhythm game will find a lot on offer here.
Things we liked
+ Colorful Visuals
+ Variety of modes
+ Unique blend of RPG mechanics and rhythm gameplay
Things we dislike
– RPG mechanics are a bit shallow
– Could use some more genre variety in song choices
The Metronomicon is available on Steam for $19.99, published by Kasedo Games and developed by Puuba, previously known for The Weaponographist and Concursion.