Publisher: Akupara Games
Release Date: 30/08/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Mac
I really enjoy a good rhythm game. They used to be so common not so long ago, but these days they’re incredibly few and far between – it’s a shame. When one does come along though I always like to dive in.
I also love RPGs. The thought of a mixture of the two together seems like such an absurd combination though, but that’s what you get with Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor. You know what though? It genuinely works, with the beat-busting nature of the game really complimenting the grand adventure that works alongside it. After releasing on PC last year, it’s finally made its console debut with a release on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor puts you into the shoes of four students from the Neon Shield Academy. After finally graduating, they get sent on a mission across the world to bring an end to the evil monster threat that are raving their way through the land and causing chaos whilst trying to steal the ‘Metronomicon’ – a book that has untold musical power.
Whilst it’s the same concept we’ve seen over and over again in countless RPGs and also stars the same typical adventuring stereotypes, there’s something charming about the tale. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and there’s a fair bit of self-mockery, but it all comes together to offer an entertaining little adventure full of musical tropes.
This adventure sees you venturing across five different worlds as you look to bring an end to the evil raving threat. Of course, this means you’ll be partaking in a series of rhythm battles against your foes, with the player having to hit the d-pad in synchronisation with icons that appear across vertical lanes. You have a party of four different characters, with each one assigned a lane that is allocated to their actions.
The four different characters work in different ways too, with each one having their own abilities that can help you out in different scenarios. For example, one might have healing abilities that’ll ensure that your HP is always kept high, one might be efficient at dishing out physical damage, whilst another might be a specialist in fire attacks. Much like your typical RPG, elements play a big role in Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor – you’ll always want to make sure you’re dishing out attacks enemies are weak too in order to inflict maximum damage.
You’ll only actually perform each action if you manage to hit a specified amount of notes in succession though. If you miss one you have to start the sequence all over again, plus it can mean some damage is done to your party when up against particular enemies. It puts pressure on you to not only ensure you don’t miss a note, but that you also pick your moments to start hitting them; the game doesn’t punish you for missing any notes until you’ve started a sequence, so you want to make sure you’re switched on and ready.
Once you perform an action you have to wait a set amount of time before you can do another. This is the best opportunity for you to switch between characters, with each one having their own lane that you need to hit notes in. Whilst there are times when you simply have to switch lanes because you’re waiting for a character to become available again, it also actually has some tactical uses too. With each character’s varying abilities, sometimes you might want to pick and choose when you use each one – you don’t want to be left healing a party with full HP after all, whilst other times you might want to prioritise using specific abilities against certain monsters. It’s adds the same kind of tactical element to the game that’s ever-present in your typical RPG, reinforcing Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor’s status as a ‘role playing rhythm game’.
Metronomicon: Slay the Dancefloor is by no means an easy game though. Whilst the easier difficulty levels can be easily managed by simply using the d-pad, higher difficulty levels require you to press more than one direction at the same time. This is next to impossible given how small the d-pad is on the Playstation 4 controller, but you can mix in the use of the face buttons too. Actually co-ordinating this and syncing pressing buttons together can be pretty tricky though; I’ve spent hours with the game, and I’m still nowhere near mastering it. Still, it’s vital, because much like other rhythm games it can get a little boring playing through with no challenge.
Outside of the controls, it can be a little difficult to keep track of what element of enemy you’re facing against too. Everything happens at such a quick pace and with the player’s attention focusing on what buttons you have to press, it’s often difficult to look on the other end of the screen to check out what enemy you’re facing off against and what they’re weak against. There can be a lot going on at any one time, so you’ve got to be able to switch your attention between different areas of the screen quickly if you want to really get the upper hand in battle.
As you progress through the game you’ll level up, find new equipment, and even come across new characters to join your cause. Again, this reinforces the game’s RPG elements, but it’s also something that is vital to keep on top of. As you make your way through each world and get further into the game, you end up in tough showdowns against bosses. If you aren’t properly equipped or levelled up, they’ll make quick work out of you; Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor’s boss battles can come with some mean difficulty spikes. They’re never simply a case of ‘don’t miss a button and you’ll win’ like most encounters of the game, but actually need some tactical thought and a well prepared party. Whilst I’ll admit that they could be frustrating during a few instances where I had to grind a bit to progress, the fact they actually require you to think and not just press buttons made them a welcome addition.
Everything comes together to make for an enjoyable experience though and one I found hard to stop playing – I kept telling myself ‘one more song’, but instead I’d see hours slip away as I took on monster after monster after monster. One of the great things about Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor is that you actually have characters to level up and improve, so you don’t just get the satisfaction of completing a playlist but also putting together a powerful party. It might seem like a small detail, but it’s something I can appreciate and that I’d happily spend hours toying around with thanks to my love of the RPG genre.
Still, no matter how enjoyable and on point its RPG elements might be, a rhythm game is nothing without a banging soundtrack to go with it. Thankfully, Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor has a great selection of tunes from the likes of Jimmy Urine (who recently lent his talent to I Want to be a Human), Shiny Toy Guys, Perturbator, YACHT, and J-Punch just to name a few. Sure, you may not have necessarily heard of all the artists included in the game, but there’s such a diverse range of genres available that it’ll be hard not to find your toes tapping and head beating along with each battle you find yourself in. I never got bored of any of the songs either, and have actually found myself checking out some of the artist’s other tracks after getting a sample in-game.
Outside of the main adventure there are a few extra modes to try out, such as ‘Freeplay’ where you’re able to play any song you’ve unlocked, ‘Endless’ where you take on a non-stop barrage of enemies to an infinite playlist, and a ‘Practice’ mode to sharpen your skills without the risk of defeat. There’s also the addition of a local co-op mode, allowing you to smash some monsters to the beat of some quality music with a friend. There’s even leaderboards for those who like to see how they compete with players all over the world – there really is a ton on offer to keep you playing Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor for a long time.
Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor’s blend of RPG action and rhythm based gameplay is something I could never have imagined working, but now that I’ve actually played it I simply can’t get enough. It mixes up the two genres in such a creative and imaginative way, in turn providing an experience that’ll provide hours upon hours of zany, adventuring fun. Whether you’re a fan of RPGs or a fan of busting some moves to a rhythm game, Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor is definitely worth checking out.