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Metronomicon mashes music and role-playing with fantastic results

"We're calling it a rhythm role-playing game. We wanted to capture the feeling of a proper role-playing game, but I wanted to expedite it.

"I wanted to make it something that wasn't daunting to new players."

Danny Garfield, and the rest of the team at Puuba, have a history of making, well, weird games.

Last year, it was Weaponographist, which has you playing a jerk of a hero who could only use the weapons his enemies dropped and couldn't go slow, lest he risk weakening over time.

Before that, it was Concursion, a game that slapped together a multitude of genres, having players slip between platformer, space shooter and many more without so much as a cutscene.

This year's big effort is Metronomicon and it comes with not just an odd combination of genres, but also an equally strange plot.

The game takes place in a world with an odd affliction: About 40 years ago, massive dance parties began crashing into the world. One day a nightclub might smash into a mountain, another day a rave might land in a forest. Every time this happened, music-loving monsters would show up and destroy everything in the area during their epic parties.

The locals had to just deal with this until someone figured out how to harness the power of music and use it for magical combat. You take on the role of the first graduates of this school of new magic.

Your goal is to investigate the ... party crashers.

"It's really a silly, funny game," said Garfield.

Before going into an encounter, players suit up their four heroes, equipping them, choosing their order and the abilities they'll be using and then you pick a song and go into battle.

You play the game by shifting between the four heroes using the bumpers on a controller and then using the face buttons and directional pad, tap out the cues that flow down the column of the hero you're currently controlling. You have to land streams to launch the spell or ability of that hero. Some heroes might have second or third level spells, meaning you have to land two or three streaks in a row to pull off the move. Shifting between heroes before you land a move doesn't break your streak, only missing notes does.

While you fight, the monster or bad guy you're taking on is cranking out their own attacks and spells to the music.

There's a group health bar for you on one side of the screen and a health bar for the enemy on the other.

As the game and its music gets progressively harder, other twists are thrown into a match like falling boulders you have to dodge by switching characters or a dizzy effect which makes the notes shake as they drop, and a bit harder to time.

It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it's no more difficult than a game like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, though I felt it was more rewarding.

Beyond the music combat, the game is mostly menu driven, with players managing loot drops and the ever-increasing list of heroes you discover on your journey.

The game also has mini-bosses in some of the levels and there's both a freeplay and an arena challenge mode that can be unlocked to extend the gameplay.

The campaign itself, Garfield said, features 50 songs, voice-acted cutscenes and all of the other accoutrements of a role-playing game.

Garfield said the team is even playing around with the idea of adding multiplayer post-launch, but he doesn't want to commit to that yet.

Make sure to watch the video above to see how all of this comes together.

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