Capsule Review: The Metronomicon

A rhythm RPG. Combat is accomplished by playing through a song - your four party members each get a lane of scrolling button prompts similar to games like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero. You can switch from character to character and getting a streak of correctly-timed hits for a given character will activate one of their abilities.

I like the idea of a rhythm RPG. An RPG can be a great way to spend time with likeable and interesting characters in the context of a rich world and epic story, but old-school turn-based combat can easily become repetitive and tedious. It’s not uncommon for RPGs to borrow other kinds of gameplay to spice things up, and rhythm gameplay seems like it should be a good solution that can use the strengths of both genres.

Unfortunately, The Metronomicon doesn’t make full use of those strengths. On the RPG side, the characters are one-note jokes and the world and story are clearly there just to justify the RPG structure. To me, the baggage and complication of these mechanics is really only worthwhile if it’s in support of a world and cast you like spending time with. Here’s it’s adding extra weight for little value - and it also damages the rhythm gameplay. Controlling four characters each with multiple situationally-useful abilities means there’s a lot more to keep track of and the rhythm gameplay means you have to do so quickly. You can fail because you didn’t follow the rhythm prompts well enough, but you can also fail because you didn’t heal at the right time or you didn’t make good use of your elemental attacks. And the UI is just not up to the task of getting you all the information you need when you need it.

There’s absolutely an audience for fiddly RPG mechanics, but my sense is that the number crunching and deliberate strategy they imply isn’t best accompanied by tight time limits, nor does it lend itself to staying in a rhythmic flow. The Metronomicon would have better intergrated its genres had it kept its RPG mechanics simple and streamlined with the depth going instead to the characters and story. As it is, it’s hard to recommend this over a proper rhythm game or a proper RPG.

I Stopped Playing When: I played for an hour and felt no attachment to the characters or world and decided I’d be better off playing a rhythm game without the friction of the RPG systems.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.