Wednesday, March 2, 2011

[Game Review] Metroplexity

If you go to Metroplexity's website, you'll find a game that's in early beta, but is still very playable. It's a neat idea - an entirely web-based game that's a mix of text, simplistic artwork, and a combat system that's simple and yet extensive. It's incomplete - there's a point at which you can finish most or all of the game's content and there's nothing more to do even though the story remains incomplete. Still, you can easily play for several weeks before you reach that point.

The game doesn't put a lot of effort into helping players along. This is good because it challenges you to figure out what's going on, but it's also annoying if you don't really understand what the heck you're supposed to be doing. Still, it reminded me of the old 80s text-based adventures, where you were told almost nothing about how to play the game, and had to stumble along trying to figure out what to do. Those games really put hair on your chest, so to speak, and today's gamers are spoiled by comparison.

One thing that took me quite a while to figure out was the combat system. It's evidently based on card games like Magic: The Gathering or somesuch, where you build "decks" of combat techniques and then have to play them in sequence to build combinations. Moreover, certain techniques or combinations will work better in some situations or others, so you need to account for that. Finally, there are three types of attacks - melee, ranged and the sort-of magical "etheric," and you really ought to choose your attacks based on the sort of weapon you're using. I eventually figured out that I could build separate decks, and I split my cards into "melee" and "ranged" decks so that I could match them up to my chosen weapons.

The ability to move your character around in the game and take action is based on energy points. You get a certain number of points each day, and you can recover some of them by using food or drugs. Once you've exhausted all of your energy, your hunger and your "body" (which is consumed by using the special drugs and drug-like substances, like coffee), you're done for the day. This definitely limits how much time you can put into the game. Again, this is good if you're inclined to get sucked in and spend too much time playing the game, but managing your energy can be a bit of a nuisance and sometimes seemed like it got in the way of playing the game.

But gameplay aside, the game is fun to play, presents an interesting storyline, and challenges the player to figure out what's going on and then solve it. That's what's really important after all. Granted, Metroplexity is still in "early beta," so it's not perfect and it's not done. But it's also completely free - which it might or might not be when it's finished (I haven't seen anything one way or the other). As free games go, its unique and entertaining enough to be a great way to spend some time. I liked it enough to give it a B, and when it's finished it could easily rise higher than that.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Mike. I'm glad you enjoyed the game!

    You were wondering about the game's cost post-launch. It will remain free (with optional donations).

    That'll delay the dev team going full-time for a while, but I don't think a subscription (WoW) model is a good fit and the microtransaction (Farmville) model has always bugged me.