“Road Not Taken,” “Metrico” and More [GAMES ROUNDUP]

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Road Not Taken

Vita owners are in luck this week, because there are two intriguing games to try out. Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is a definitive remake of a cult-favorite PS3 JRPG, with new levels, udated graphics and an expanded story. There’s also the quirky indie puzzle-platformer Metrico, which  lets you hop, skip and jump over expanding and shrinking charts. And PS4 owners are in for a treat with Road Not Taken, a gloomy but entrancing strategy game that kills you off with vengeance if you don’t perfectly plan every move.

Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an authorblogger and Twitterer. Publishers provided review copies.

Disgaea

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited

(Vita, $40, Teen)

A gothic fantasy JRPG, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited puts a dark twist on the usual tropes of the genre, while maintaining charm and a winning sense of humor. The game follows a vampire who works a dull job in Hades, having long since given up on his ambition. But when the government unveils a plan to enact genocide on a cute, innocent race, he leads a rebellion to overthrow the powers that be.

A remake of the 2011 PS3 game, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, the Vita version has all the DLC from the original, plus new content that adds storylines and fills in characters’ backgrounds. Gameplay has also been smoothed out, the music has been reworked, and there are new spells and skills to master. The writing is often dense and hard to decipher, but the cast of characters is strong and compelling. Even if you’ve played the game before, there’s enough new stuff on the Vita version to merit another look.


Metrico

Metrico

(Vita, $10, Everyone)

In this bizarre puzzle-platformer set in a world constructed of infographics, you play as a stick figure who races over and below bar graphs and pie charts. Your movements manipulate the shape and size of the chart-platforms, forcing you to stratetgically plot out every jump, dash and fall to resize the charts to your needs. The abruptly business meeting-like presentation sets the mood, making it seem like the game takes place in the fever dreams of someone who’s obsessed with Microsoft Excel.

The entertaining concept starts to wear thin in later levels, making it seem like a chore to plow through overly similar setups. But taken in quick, sporadic hits, Metrico can become one of your favorite go-to games to unwind with Sony’s portable. It helps a lot that the game comes for free to PS Plus subscribers.


Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

(PS4, $12, Everyone)

Another free game for PS Plus subscribers, Road Not Taken is a roguelike that mixes real-time and turn-based strategy elements. You play a wizard stuck out in the cold who makes his way through puzzle-filled labyrinths while helping out people he comes across. There’s a stress-inducing counter on top of the screen that keeps track of your energy level, which dwindles with every move you make. You can replenish your starving, freezing character by finding food, but there’s usually just enough to let you get by if you make the savviest of moves.

Expect plenty of trial and error, because the puzzles are brutally unforgiving, often having just one or two paths to a solution. There are plenty of online walkthroughs to show you how it’s done, but you get the most out of the game by ignoring those and straining your brain to come up with the solutions on your own. Whether or not you have the patience for that,  you’ll have to see for yourself. But there’s a mysterious and absorbing tone to the game that kept sucking me back in whenever I started to get frustrated.

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