I love a good puzzle game, or any kind of puzzle game, really. I like games that have unique takes on the genre to spice up the game play a bit. That’s why I enjoy Metacell so much. It’s a match three game, but adds a little more to the game play to liven the experience up.
Metacell takes place in the distant future. You play as Dominic Moore and his crew, sent to investigate a disturbance in the far reaches of space. What they find is an experiment gone wrong called the Metacell, a large organism that continues to grow and will eventually multiply to take over the entire universe if not stopped. Luckily, Moore’s ship is equipped with the tools necessary to hold off, and ultimately defeat, the Metacell, but it isn’t going down without a fight.
As stated above, Metacell is essentially a match three game in the same vein of Snood or Zuma, but with a few twists. You play as Moore’s ship as it circles the Metacell. The Metacell will begin to spawn genese off its core. These come in a variety of different colors and emblems. Your ship can fire a single gene at the Metacell in hopes to destroy the ones it is emitting. If the mass spawns genes that reach the outside boarder of the circle, the game is over.
That’s the gist of the game, but there’s more to it than that. The Metacell will also begin to defend itself. The Cell will level up, begin throwing out more attacks at your ship and spawn at a faster rate. If your ship gets hit by one of these attacks, you lose a life. Your ship is equipped with super bombs that will explode a large number of genes. You will get more bombs over time, but it’s best to save them for dire situations. There are also three different kinds of power ups that will appear when you do well. One will make the gene you have ready to fire change to whatever color gene your aiming at. The second power up will turn your ready gene into a special bomb that will explode when it matches with the same color. All genes in the vicinity of the explosion will be destroyed. The last power up is a special bomb in different colors. Matching it will not only eliminate the connected strand, but will also remove all the genes of that color on the board. There is a lot of strategy involved with knowing when and where to use your power ups.
There are 99 stages of the Metacell. If you can survive that long, you win. Good luck, though. This game can get hectic after about level 30. When you have multiple attacks coming at you and genes spawning everywhere, it becomes one of the most challenging match three games I have played.
The game can be played both with the keyboard and a game pad. I used the Xbox 360 controller for most of my time with the game, and the controller worked very well. I did have a minor issue with the controls. Sometimes when I was maneuvering my ship, the ship would continue to move after I had stopped pushing on the control stick. It didn’t happen very often, but it did mess up my shots a few times.
The presentation and original soundtrack are both great and actually really impressive for an indie title. The graphics all look hand-drawn, and the hard rock music that plays during the game reminds me of the epic tunes from Castlevania.
The game even features achievements to unlock and online leader boards to see exactly how you stack up with other players. Everything is well executed and actually quite fun in this little title.
If you’re looking for a unique take on a puzzle game, you can’t really go wrong with Metacell. The twitch shooting mechanics, power ups, and hectic incoming attacks really make this game stand out from the pack. If you let it hook you, you can easily sink 10 hours in, all for five bucks. I say give it a shot.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.