As a huge indie game fan and supporter myself, the Indie Cade booth returned this year at E3 2017, and The Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor, a rhythm-RPG hybrid was in attendance, and I had the pleasure of playing. Developer Puuba has created a unique RPG battle system using rhythm-game mechanics as the core element of combat.
In The Metronomicon, battles are fought with four heroes in your party (but 9 heroes to choose from). 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. Basic RPG formula until the battle begins: this is where the rhythm genre takes hold. Combat unfolds by switching between your 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 character’s 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 character’s note track. Topping off the crazy pace of combat is a special ability trigger (similar to Guitar Hero ‘star power’) that results in a hectic and strangely satisfying combat system.
While you tap along to the encounter’s 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 of course. I played through a boss battle that made huge rocks fall down my selected heroes’ note track, which required me to switch to a different hero to avoid getting crushed for damage and interrupting my chances of casting higher level spells. Complicated and overwhelming at first, but just like any 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 game’s few 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 with the average playthrough taking around 8 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. The developer has even added daily challenges to keep players engaged for the long run.
The team was adamant in explaining that The Metronomicon is first and foremost an RPG given the depth and great lengths is goes deep within the genre. While the rhythm-fueled combat system is indeed unique (and at first a little jarring), it worked surprisingly well. Its battle interface does feel overwhelming, though. My eyes primarily occupied the music lanes without being given a chance to see what was exactly happening in combat. I also felt that hitting notes successfully really didn’t provide enough visual feedback indicating it.
Check out the console reveal trailer below for more!