Metrocide is a top down arcade stealth-shooter developed by Flat Earth Games. Originally released as a Steam Early Access game, Metrocide has released as a full title today. Compared to many other Steam Early Access titles that just stay in development forever, Metrocide went through a rather speedy Early Access phase. So just how did the game turn out after its soft release back in October?
Throughout the world of Metrocide, players will explore a low definition cyberpunk world full of gangs, flying ships, and bloodthirsty cops. The goal, which you’ll have no choice but to accept, is to get yourself knee deep in the world of contract killing. Everything in the game is quite minimalist, even down to the simple tutorial instructions. Players are given a waypoint finder in the top left of their screen that leads them to the next target, whether that be a contract supplier or a contracted hit.
How exactly players dispatch of their target is relatively simple, they shoot them in cold blood on the street. Once they’ve completed the hit, it’s time to head back for a new contract. While that all sounds pretty cut and dry on the surface, Metrocide is nowhere near as easy as that sounds. Throughout the 3 cities, players are met with huge amounts of danger around every corner. Flying police drones patrol the sky, while security cameras monitor the streets for any sort of criminal behaviour. Being spotted committing a crime usually results in your death, especially in the very early stages of the game where you’re broke and can’t afford fancy tools to evade capture.
If avoiding cameras and the police wasn’t hard enough, players will also need to be even more mindful of who is nearby to witness their crime. Taking out a target on a crowded block will result in a number of witnesses. While some witnesses may run, others might just turn vigilante and try to take you out themselves. The witnesses that do get away will alert the police, which results in increased patrols in the city. The more you make a scene, the harder it’ll be later make hits while going unnoticed.
Initially, players have extremely limited resources at their disposal. Completing contracts and earning money will give players access to new weapons and tools that can greatly aid in their quest to take out targets. As players get more comfortable with the game’s mechanics, these unlockables really make a big difference in the way things can be done. New guns offer quicker ways to make hits, while tools can be used to escape the police, or even lure targets into more convenient locations.
To further complicate things, Metrocide is permadeath. When you’re spotted by the police, a vigilante, an armed target, or a pissed off gang member, they tend to shoot back. Unfortunately, getting shot means you’re dead, at which point you start the level over at $0 in the bank. If that sounds brutal, it is, trust me. Thankfully, the developer took mercy on player’s souls by allowing they items they unlock to at least carry over after being counter-murdered on the streets of this well-armed city.
My experience with Metrocide, and one that I suspect many other players will encounter as well, involves dying over and over again. Eventually though, the game’s design begins to shine through. By brutally punishing my horribly non-stealth tactics, Metrocide trains players to make better choices if they want to survive. It’s actually quite sneaky in the way that it keeps players engaged while completely dismantling them if they get too full of themselves.
Depth-wise, Metrocide is clear in what it is, and what it isn’t. The cities in Metrocide don’t feature tons of NPCs to strike up conversations with, or even explorable buildings for that matter. While the lack of depth in the city may lead you to believe this is just a low-tech game, Metrocide is actually laser-focused in its design. This is a lightweight, retro-inspired game that asks players to engage in stealthy contract killing. By removing the needless distractions, Metrocide gets players to the heart of its gameplay within seconds of first starting the game. In a lot of ways, Metrocide is actually everything that a 8-bit throwback game should be. Apart from the mouse aiming, Metrocide feels like a real NES game.
With the full v1.0 release , Metrocide is launching with a full list of fine-tuning to the difficulty levels, as well as a number of bug fixes and overall quality-of-life improvements. Players now have access to multiple difficulty levels, in addition to new game modes that give players a whole new set of challenges. One such new mode, Dead Trench Walking, challenges players to complete contracts while the entire city has an APB out on them, resulting in every single citizen being armed and wanting them dead.
Using elements of stealth, arcade shooting, and a heavily 8-bit feel, Metrocide is probably going to drive you addictingly insane. It never once pretends to be some complicated mess that asks you to pickpocket 12 gigatokens from civilians, or clean up some space-juice bar’s rat problems. Instead, you’re a simple contract killer in a cyberpunk world full of danger. Your target’s days are numbered, but if you’re not careful, so are yours.
|Developer: Flat Earth Games||Publisher: Flat Earth Games||Official Website|
|Version Played: 1.0||Steam Achievements: Yes (33)||Steam Cards: No|
|Buy on Steam|
Summary: A brutally difficult, yet highly engaging 8-bit throwback arcade stealth game with permadeath.