Speaking as a long time Dungeon/Game Master of pen and paper RPGs I have often wondered if a combat encounter would be spruced up by having the players compete against the monsters via a dance-off. Thankfully these thoughts are fleeting as I realise that if I were to introduce such a mechanic into my games, my players would likely give me a 0.0 score and flounce off in fully choreographed formation.
So when I encountered The Metronomicon at PAX East 2017 I was more than a little hesitant, as its premise is almost what I described above. Players guide a party of adventurers through the dungeon while attacking monsters through the power of dance.
Wait, where are you going? No, seriously, this is the game!
The Metronomicon is the antithesis of The Darkest Dungeon. The denizens of the dungeons the adventurers are delving into have a penchant for disco balls and sparkling dancefloors, and they are here to kick butt and funk.
So how does this work? Well in a similar fashion to Dance Dance Revolution, there are a series of vertical tracks that have arrows dropping down from the top of the screen. The player must match these symbols by pressing directional buttons on their controller of choice as the symbols descend. If any of these button presses are missed then the track fails and they have to start again.
So far, so familiar, right? Here comes the unique part - each track shown on the screen within The Metronomicon is one of the characters in the party. How well the player performs the track reflects in the effectiveness of the character. The track has to be manually shifted from one character to another. This is not too dissimilar to Amplitude in that the player must switch tracks in order to complete a song.
During my time with The Metronomicon I found myself regressing to become the younger man who ploughed hours and hours into Amplitude and, quite separately at the time, The Darkest Dungeon. Only this time everyone is having an awesome time of it and not questioning the nature of reality itself!
There are multiple difficulty settings that raise the challenge level of The Metronomicon considerably and I tried easy (rating 3) through to medium (rating 6) and found the latter to be very difficult indeed. Granted, my hand to eye coordination is not what it used to be, but even still the flood of symbols that dropped onto the character was as complex as it was rapid.
My main concern with The Metronomicon is how the player's attention is drawn almost exclusively to the top half of the screen with everything else being barely glanced at. The status of the characters are read by their stance, which is at best located within the player's peripheral field of vision. This is what I call 'Rock Band Syndrome', in which large sections of the game's screen are beautifully animated and presented only to be ignored by the players.
The visual splendour of The Metronomicon is impressive, although there are some aspects of it that will raise the ire of some as they see how the mage is portrayed in the game. She is a large breasted woman who has her midriff showing and is wearing a very close fitting corset. To my mind a flowing robe and cloak would have been much more fitting and appropriate in this day and age, even if she is dancing in a dungeon disco.
The Metronomicon is out on Steam for Windows PC and Mac and is coming out on PS4 later this year.