Metropolis Lux Obscura (Nintendo Switch)

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A puzzle game with boobs? Should have called it Titris.

You’ve got to hand it to the guys and girls at Ktulhu Solutions. They looked at the match-3 puzzle genre and thought: yeah, I spot an opportunity for sexiness there. Woven between some passable puzzle battles is a handsomely drawn, animated graphic novel that Frank Miller might feel compelled to sue over.

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Sin City’s bloody prints are all over Metropolis. From sexy dames and strip club dramas to underworld deals and violent rivalries, there’s little in this story that would be out of place amongst Miller’s oeuvre. I should really say stories, plural, since there’s a tetralogy of endings that play out depending upon the path taken through the actual game.

So, I should talk about that. Like I said, it’s a match-3 game. The board is made up of icons that represent methods of attack, such as punches, kicks and other assorted weaponry. Sliding one icon vertically or horizontally to create a match (usually of 3, but up to 5 for greater strength) unleashes an attack, before an AI opponent has the chance to do the same. The first to lose all health points loses (though they can be recovered for matching med packs instead of attacks).

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Stretching the limits of decency and taste, each successful battle rewards you with a choice of power up, modelled upon – and I’m not joking – a range of bad habits and mental illnesses. Sure, I suppose there’s some tonal sense for a game of this setting in making a virtue of paranoia and morphine addiction. Feels weird though, right?

These earned perks in Metropolis remind me very much of Ironcast, another match-3 game with RPG elements. There’s a significant difference though; Ironcast allows progress to be built across multiple playthroughs. This means a failure in one game leads to better progress in the next. Metropolis is more forgiving of failure, awarding save points after every battle. The net effect, though, is to render its upgrade system obsolete once the story concludes.

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As a game, Metropolis suffers for this short-sightedness. Its core gameplay is not unique or interesting enough to sustain itself on its own terms. By also hobbling any sense of retained progress, the game defines itself as a fairly shallow endeavour that lives and dies by the attractiveness of its art. The comic book sections are compelling enough to see once (forgiving them some poor writing and voice work), but it’s over so quickly that it’s just as well none of the characters are at all likeable.

The brief distraction that Metropolis provides might make it a reasonable stop gap between more fulfilling gaming experiences. Like a between-meal snack, you shouldn’t really miss not having it, and perhaps it’s not all that good for you anyway. Do you really want to see animated thrusting on a Nintendo Switch? Oh, you do? I kind of wish you’d told me that before I started writing.

2-star-rating

 

 

Metropolis Lux Obscura was provided to us by the developer for the Nintendo Switch. 

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