Undoubtedly, the team at Puumba Games appreciates a good amalgam. 2014’s Concursion intermingled the platforming, shooter, and beat-‘em-up genres into a quirky indie title. The following year, The Weaponographist blended dual-stick based shooting with Rogue-like conventions, resulting in an intriguing title reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac. But the Imminent release of The Metronomicon is arguably the developer’s most prodigious effort yet- with the game extending a rousing fusion of role-playing and rhythm game.
A brief tutorial explains the game’s rudiments with players directing a quartet of adventurers against a convoy of cantankerous creatures. Instead of the typical turn-based battles of most RPGs, players initiate different actions by mimicking a cascade of falling arrows, recalling the ‘note highways’ of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Amplitude.
Successfully nailing a succession of notes is enough to execute a tier one action, resulting in a basic ranged attack, melee strike, or even a curative spell that recoups some hit points. But as players persevere, party members will have access to second- and even third-tier strikes and spells, if they can tap out a trio of flawless song measures. Given the cool down time of actions and The Metronomicon’s integration of elementals, a full-on assault isn’t always the best strategy. Should gamers wish to implement a subordinate strike, all they do is have to move the highlighted bar to another adventurer.
Shifting between characters is where another strategic element comes into play. Not only will players want to heal their party after being attacked by antagonists, but they’ll also want to use some of the special abilities of their party, potentially doing things like stunning opponents. Defensively, relocating focus can protect party members from taking damage from elements like falling rocks.
In the current build of The Metronomicon, transferring between characters is accomplished by tapping the right or left shift keys. Players opting to use a controller can use the bumpers on a controller or remap the command to any other button. While you’re rebinding you’ll probably also want to configure the directional pad and action buttons. After the first few stages, the game tends to throw icons in opposing directions, ala Dance Dance Revolution. It should be noted that USB dance pads can also work with Metronomicon, although players will have to remap a few keys to be able to through characters.
Following role-playing convention, the successful completion of stages rewards players with both experience as well as a steady supply of equip-able loot. Therefore, if the game’s sidequests or bosses prove too difficult, gamers can grind away at the difficulty level, gradually augmenting character stats to diminish any difference in capability. While most of these interactions are menu based, they’re handled intuitively and swiftly, allowing players to get back into the action.
Aesthetically, The Metronomicon sporadically transcends its indie origins. The game’s 50-song perpetually plucky soundtrack offers a number of notable artists, with contributions from Shiny Toy Guns, DJ Cutman, Perturbator, and YACHT. Visually, the game’s campy creatures and enduringly grooving adventurers move like marionettes, with conspicuous points of articulation. The effect won’t be mistaken for motion capture, but it’s also enduringly humorous- if players are able to move their eyes from the game’s note highways.
Mash-ups can be tricky. For every game that achieves synergy by blending two or more genres, that are at least two or three that never quite gel. With a final build due next month, The Metronomicon has already demonstrated its competency, and just might be the title that catapults Puuba Games to mainstream attention. It’s encouraging to see a self-financed indie team able to realize their imaginative ambitions.
The Metronomicon will be available on Steam in September, 2016.