When I think about match-3 puzzle games, I think of classics like Tetris and crap like Candy Crush (sorry if you’re a fan). What I don’t think about is neo-noir, an M rating, or edgy visual novels. Fortunately for all of us, Metropolis: Lux Obscura has come to change that.
This match-3 puzzle game combines a gritty noir visual novel with matching gameplay to replace typical combat. It’s certainly unique but does this game surprise you with a right hook, or burn as it goes down like a shot of bad whiskey? Let’s find out.
A Familiar Tale Splashed in Blood and Bullets
The storyline in Metropolis: Lux Obscura is classic neo-noir fare, but that’s not a problem for someone like me who wants more stories like it in the world. I know the ex-con down on his luck, wrapped up in stuff with the mob thing has been done before, but then again, so has everything else. How does this story differ?
Well, it does so in a few ways. For starters, the visual novel style works great. The cutscenes play out like a Frank Miller novel in the best way possible. The branching paths based on your decisions lead to one of four different endings as well, so there’s some replay value.
Everything you want from this kind of no-nonsense noir storytelling is here: guns, booze, women, and gratuitous amounts of it all. Is it the best story of its kind? No, there are probably better options, but none of them are paired with a match-3 puzzle game, I can tell you that.
The only gripe I have here is the length, and I can forgive this, given the low price point. You can probably see your first ending in a few hours, assuming you’re good at the gameplay portions. I myself was a mixed bag, so the game lasted a little longer for me.
Multiple playthroughs will warrant different endings, up to four as I previously mentioned. As I said, it’s not going to blow you away, but it’s a cool story nonetheless and a genre I sorely miss in the world of gaming.
Match-3 With a Mature Rating
Alright, now let’s talk about the gameplay. This isn’t your grandma’s Candy Crush, boys and girls. You won’t be matching colors, you’ll be matching medkits. You won’t attack with spells or a sword, you’ll hit them with broken bottles and bullets.
The game plays out in turns, with each enemy type having so many turns before they attack, offering you the chance to get in as many hits as possible. You can move a single icon as many spaces vertically or horizontally as you like, provided it ends up in a match of three or more.
Anything else that matches as things delete and new icons fall in will also count, as is standard for the genre. After each match, you can choose a skill to learn, or level up one of the ones you already have.
The skills mix things up with percentage-based events or boost to your health. You also have a rage meter you can build up for a damage multiplier. It’s filled by matching three or more icons of the main character’s face with a ball cap and a clenched jaw. In other words, it’s awesome.
The only downside to this type of game is the random nature of it all. The same battle can be easier, or woefully more difficult based on the spread of icons you’re given. It comes with the territory, but it can be frustrating when you feel like you got dealt a bad hand.
Other than that, I really enjoyed my match-3 sessions. The sound effects for attacks and the animations for everything were bombastic and fun. It was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had with this kind of game since Puzzle Quest back in the day.
A Dark, Gritty, and Detailed World
The game’s artist, Oleg Okunev, is one talented individual. Say what you will about the Frank Miller influences, but the art in this game is stunning. It absolutely nails the gritty look and feel of the genre, while also relishing in details like the slobber of a rabid dog, and the wrinkles of clothing.
If you had told me that I would thoroughly enjoy a match-3 game besides Puzzle Quest, I would tell you that you’re insane. These kinds of games have never really appealed to me, but Metropolis: Lux Obscura managed to break open my hardened heart with a shattered bottle, and I couldn’t be happier.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 5/16/18
A copy of Metropolis: Lux Obscura was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes