The Metronomicon is a mash-up of a rhythm game and an RPG. The game packs the full RPG experience and then uses rhythm mechanics for triggering skills and abilities. The Metronomicon features a hefty soundtrack by indie artists from a variety of genres like Dj CUTMAN and J-Punch.
The Metronomicon’s story is much like the game itself, a unique blend of classic RPG tropes mixed with a zany musical theme. The world is plagued by dancing monsters and the recently graduated masters of the rhythmic combat arts have been thrown into the field to bring sanity and order back into the world. While the writing is a little awkward at times, the story is charming and helps break up levels nicely.
As far as RPGs go, The Metronomicon is a pretty light RPG. Character development is completely linear and each character has only two slots of equipment. Players progress through the game by exploring new zones, each with their own playlist with regular levels, specific challenges, and an epic boss fight to cap things off. Additionally, side quests are available to help players snag some extra rewards.
Combat is a seemingly simple affair. Each of the four characters have a note track that is mostly the same. Players switch between the note tracks and complete a stretch of notes to trigger an ability. The higher level the ability, the more notes that will be required to trigger. Once a character uses an ability, they must cooldown for a short period before using another ability. A small handful of buffs and debuffs exist in the game and The Metronomicon uses a rock, paper, scissors style damage system. Like any good RPG, success requires having the holy RPG trinity of tank-damage-heal in the group. To further simplify matters, the party has a single health pool consisting of the group’s total HP. To make tanking viable, single target damage is calculated based on the target’s defense.
The Metronomicon’s simplicity really works in its favour. On paper, it may seem that the game is too simple to be fun; however, that could not be more wrong. Choosing appropriate characters to use, managing health pools, and keeping an eye on buffs and debuffs adds an extra layer of challenge to the game. I often found myself dropping down a difficulty level from what I would normally tackle in other rhythm games to help give me a little space to think about the RPG mechanics. My only complaint is with the game’s UI. Like most rhythm games, I tend to become quite tunnel vision, with my focus squarely on the note track. Some of the important information such as enemy health/elemental type and buffs/debuffs are located at the far edges of the screen, so it can be a bit distracting to have to take your eyes off the note track to find these important bits of information, especially when notes are coming in fast and furious.
Any rhythm game lives and dies by its controls. Puuba has really hit it out of the park for The Metronomicon. The developers allow players to bind almost anything to the game, breathing life back into an entire world of old plastic controllers from Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and more. Puuba has partnered up with Precision Dance Pads to release a special pad just for the game, but any old controller that can connect to a computer via USB or Bluetooth will work. I’ve had great success playing with a keyboard and an Xbox One controller. Old guitar controllers seem to be pretty popular among the developers. Personally, I’ve always been the drummer in my circle of Rock Band playing friends, so I decided to pull out the old drum set to see how well it would work. Since the drums are short a few buttons compared to the guitar, I ended up only being able to switch characters in one directions using the foot pedal and then using the keyboard’s space bar to trigger the team attack. While the drums had a few short comings, it worked well enough to make The Metronomicon a reasonable option for video game drummers looking for a fix on the PC. I’m extremely happy that Puuba has included both manual and automatic adjustments for video and audio latency. The average PC shouldn’t encounter any latency issues, but the adjustment tool is a life saver for those of us with odd PC configurations.
The Metronomicon is an explosion of bright colours and eye catching style. Presented with a cartoon art style, the game takes the standard fantasy RPG visuals and gives it a musical flair with speakers, dancing creatures, and flash dance club colours. The Metronomicon’s unique style makes the game a visual feast.
On the technical side, the graphic options are pretty basic. Players can choose between full screen and windowed mode. Both modes allow players to tweak the size of the window, which is very handy for those playing on a TV. The colour of notes can also be changed to correspond with the controller type or the note’s beat.
The Metronomicon’s audio experience is excellent for the most part. The sound effects are strong, but the voice acting is pretty terrible. It is quite obvious that several characters are not voiced by fulltime professional actors. On the other hand, there isn’t too much voice acting and the soundtrack more than makes up for the poor acting. The game features a whole slew of indie artists, with a particular focus on electronic, synthwave, and chiptune. The soundtrack is very strong and is a great way to get introduced by some indie artists that likely will get almost no play time at the local radio station. As part of Puuba’s incredible attention to detail, the game is automatically set to YouTube mode, which puts little YouTube icons beside any song that will trigger a ContentID match and the game will not play preview clips of those songs in the menu.
The Metronomicon is a fantastic rhythm game that adds just enough RPG mechanics to make the game unique without becoming overwhelming. While the game’s voice acting is pretty bad and the UI is a little too spread out for my taste, the fantastic soundtrack, solid gameplay, and colourful art style is sure to win players over. Combined with options to play the game with a variety of controllers and PC set ups, The Metronomicon is the new benchmark that all other rhythm games on the PC should be measured against.
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