"The Metronomicon is first and foremost an RPG."
Tucked away in the always awesome Indie Cade booth of E3 was The Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor, a rhythm-RPG hybrid I had the pleasure of playing. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but developer Puuba has created a unique RPG battle system using rhythm-game mechanics as the core element of combat. And from what I played, it works wonderfully.
In The Metronomicon, battles are fought with four heroes in your party. You choose their battle order and equip them with the loot of past encounters as well as select the abilities they will bring with them into the fight—all typical RPG fare until the battle begins: this is where the rhythm takes over. Combat unfolds by switching between your four heroes, which is accomplished by tapping L1/R1 (or RB/LB) and then using the face buttons and/or d-pad to tap out notes flowing down from the top of the screen for the selected hero. To use a characterís ability, you need to land enough notes in a row to accomplish an ability streak, and then cast it by switching to another character in your party. If a hero has a level two or level three ability equipped, unleashing them requires a level two or level three streak, which is visually differentiated on the screen by the color of the characterís note track. Topping off the crazy pace of combat is a special ability trigger (similar to the old Guitar Hero star power) that results in a hectic and strangely satisfying combat system.
While you tap along to the encounterís specific music track, enemies attack and cast along to the rhythm as well. As you progress through the game and its five dungeons, the music and its rhythm mechanics get increasingly complex, as do your enemies. I fought a boss that made boulders fall down my heroes' note track, which required me to switch to a different hero to avoid getting crushed for damage and thus interrupted my chances of casting higher level spells. It sounds quite complicated, and it can definitely feel overwhelming at first, but just like any good rhythm game, once you find your groove the pieces fall into place. Not to mention your score will sky rocket and you might end the battle with a spot on the leaderboards.
Outside of combat, The Metronomicon is mostly menu-driven. Between tackling the gameís five dungeons, players can manage their loot drops and their expanding list of heroes (there are nine heroes in the base game). The campaign features fully voiced cut-scenes and over 50 songs from the likes of DJ Cutman, Megaran, Perturbator, YACHT and more, with the average playthrough taking around 9 hours. The game also features a free-play mode, an arena challenge mode, and two player co-op, allowing you and a friend to battle together. Developer Puuba has even added daily challenges to keep players engaged long after the campaign is over.
The team was adamant in explaining that The Metronomicon is first and foremost an RPG, and it most definitely is. While the rhythm-fueled combat system is indeed unique (and at first a little jarring), it worked surprisingly well. Hopefully, when the game releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year, the total package will be a pulse-pounding hit.
The Metronomicon is currently available on PC and Mac, so if this sounds interesting to you and you can't wait for its console release later this year, you can get it right now!