Sometimes when covering a show, you find a game that feels custom-made to fit your tastes. For me, that game is The Metronomicon.
I’ve heard it called so many different things, ranging from “Theatrhytm with turn based battles” and “Amplitude with classes instead of instruments,” to “Dance Dance Revolution Tactics.” Personally, I’d just call it flat out addicting. Metronomicon is a great example of taking a unique and enjoyable idea and expanding on it, combining two genres that we didn’t know could co-exist. It truly is the perfect example of a game quickly going from being unaware of its existence to absolutely needing to have it.
Developed by Puuba, Metronomicon tasks players with performing along with songs in a similar manner to Amplitude or Flash Flash Revolution. Notes will fall down on a vertical track and you’ll have to press the appropriate D-Pad or Face Buttons to play your instrument. Though, I shouldn’t say instrument; you’re instead casting spells. See, Metronomicon isn’t about playing in a band. It’s about defeating enemies in RPG-style turn-based combat. Playing your “instruments,” or I should say casting spells as it was referenced by the developers all weekend, occurs by successfully playing notes over an extended period of time. The longer you chain together these notes, the more powerful the spell. Said spell is cast when you move away from the class track, which happens when 1.) your heart desires, allowing for strategic timing to cast an appropriate spell (each class gets three) or 2.) you’ve combo’ed enough notes together to cast the highest rank spell and the track is temporarily completed.
There’s nothing entirely new about this design decision. It’s reminiscent of closing out an instrument track in Amplitude. What does differ, however, is when you start the track. Normally, players are tasked with hitting every note possible. Failing to nab that first note after you switch tracks will, most of the time, result in a combo breaker and massive disappointment. With Metronomicon, there’s no foul. Players are able to switch tracks and then jump right back into the swing of things with no penalty. It’s a mechanic that not only helps the game feel more accessible, but also allows players to regain composure. Remember, you’re in the midst of a boss battle, not a rock concert. Sure, performing endless combos is nice, but it’s meaningless if your tank isn’t holding agro and your cleric isn’t keeping the party’s health topped off. Your track selection and spell casting need purpose and being able to jump in and out at your own desire goes a long way.
On its own, The Metronomicon would be enough to interest me upon release. Imagine my surprise when the game already offered licensed music with bands I both know and love (Shiny Toy Guns and Mindless Self Indulgence in this case). Considering the change in music quality we’ve seen in similar games recently (Rock Band clearly doesn’t have EA’s backing anymore), this was a beyond enjoyable surprise. It turns out that there wasn’t anything special Puuba had to do. They literally called up these bands and said “hey do you want to be in our game?” Turns it it’s that easy, sometimes. It certainly helps considering Jimmy Urine’s (MSI’s lead singer) background in gaming (he was involved with Lollipop Chainsaw Massacre if you may recall). In addition, there’s also consideration for mod support that would allow players to upload their own songs.
Don’t expect this to be a one tick pony, either. Metronomicon will boast a full-fledged campaign mode, featuring 50 songs, as well as the potential for dance pad support. While that wasn’t playable on the PAX East show floor, it was something the developers have been trying out recently in their studio. Make no mistake; it may look gimmicky but Meronomicon could very well be dancing into our hearts when it releases later this year. I’m excited for it, as is the Crypt of the Necromancer cosplayer that got their hands on with the game before my first of many play sessions.