Monday, April 2

Review: Metropolis - Lux Obscura [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Having covered Nintendo systems since the N64 days the company has made quite a remarkable shift in the content that it allows on its systems. I remember playing the SNES version of Mortal Kombat where fighters had sweat pouring off of them instead of blood and fans bemoaning the lack of more mature content with some regularity. While I’ve played games on their systems since that time that have dabbled with the M rating for “sexy” content, most notably the laughable BMX XXX that I enjoyed skewering completely, I can’t say that I’ve played anything that’s surprised me. That changed with Metropolis: Lux Obscura, a Match-3 game with sensibilities obviously inspired by the Sin City comics and movies.


Starting with the gameplay itself while the puzzle play is hardly a revelation it’s interesting enough to be respectable. Rather than being restricted to only moving pieces over one space here you can move a piece from anywhere in a row or column to get it into place. This opens the door to a wider variety of pieces than you’d normally see and both creates more opportunities for big matches and ups the challenge when the board is against you. Your goal is to match pieces that damage your enemies or heal yourself, all while trying to avoid police badges that will harm you. In order to help you survive, as your opponents begin to have much more health than you, after each fight you’re able to choose one of 4 options that will help you out in a variety of ways. This is the game’s way of providing you with somewhat random options to help the game better suit your style. If you’re great at setting up large matches there are enhancements that will boost your damage or alter badges, which can be a real benefit. If you’re more of a generalist you can enhance your damage or your chances to heal. Since you can then either spread out your enhancements or attempt to go deep with just a few there are some nice opportunities to refine your play style.


Getting into the story, and the M-rated content you’ll either enjoy or perhaps be put off by, the best guide is whether you enjoy the likes of the Sin City comic books or movies. You’ll be entering a seedy world of criminals, strippers, drug dealers, and assorted weirdos. As a whole while the art style is highly derivative of that series it’s also generally excellent, detailed, and is put to good and often creative use through motion. While some topless women are in several parts of the game it’s a few of the game’s “climaxes” that are only a carefully-positioned vase or object in the foreground away from likely earning an outright A rating so you’ve been warned. In general the people depicted are from all parts of the spectrum, from common criminals to corrupted cops, street dealers who perhaps can redeem themselves to spurned women who may themselves be prone to violence. If you enjoy the relatively quick stories to be told there are 4 distinct ending types to the game, though there are multiple paths to the same general outcome. To find the one silver lining among so many bad outcomes you’ll need to make your moves carefully, using the few decisions you have in the game and making them count.

Aside from the content that may potentially rub you the wrong way or make you uncomfortable as reviewed the game isn’t without its technical issues unfortunately. Over the course of reviewing the game I had about 4 hard crashes, but more commonly the issue I’d run into was pieces that would simply “get stuck” somehow, forcing me to start a puzzle over again. While thankfully it didn’t take too long to get back rolling, and perhaps the issue can be patched, it was still an annoyance that needs to be shared. Playing on the touchscreen was generally far simpler but I also had the lock-ups occur mostly in that mode so it’s possible the rate I was trying to move at was part of the issue.


Overall I’ll say I was pleasantly surprised by this title, and it has far more redeeming qualities than its adult-skewed content. Once I got immersed in this world and met my first bad end I was quick to give it another go, to try to find the combination of actions that would improve my outcome. While I was able to trigger different story elements and I thought I was in the clear on my second run it turned out that, in general, I’d been a very bad boy in the past and that path had it all catching up to me. In general I’m a fan of the noir style so while on its surface some of the content can seem excessive within the context of the story they’re telling it at least seems pretty natural. While there are better puzzle games out there the story is what makes or breaks the game above all else, and it is a fairly satisfying one.

Score: 7

Pros:
  • The Match-3 play isn’t necessarily a revelation but it does enough to stand out that it is worthwhile
  • After fights you’ll get a random set of options to enhance yourself with and the choices you make definitely have an impact on how effective you are in future battles
  • If there were ever a sign that Nintendo is absolutely not in “censorship mode” on the Switch, this may be the one… if that doesn’t bother you

Cons:
  • Crashes and lock-ups happened often enough that it is worth noting and being aware of
  • The content won’t make it appropriate for everyone
  • If you’re not in it to try to uncover all 4 potential story outcomes it may seem too short