First shown at E3 2005, this game caught a few people's eyes with its odd, quirky look and equally quirky, adventure-oriented gameplay, which implements puzzles designed around the idea of recording and using sounds in the environment to progress.
After the initial showing three years ago, things have sadly been silent. Recently set up Swedish developer Tarsier Studios has received new funding every now and then, so no apparent financial difficulties. But currently the game is on hold, as they're currently working on other things, one of which is a PSN title produced together with Sony Computer Entertainment. Who knows what might happen after that project's done though. Presumably they'd have to prove themselves with a smaller title before being given a bigger wallet to finance bigger projects. Hope hope. A really rough estimated release window has been given: Whenever - summer 2011.
Who knows what might have changed, and what might be, but the initial concept is presented to you below.
What's it all about then?
The game is set against the backdrop of the city of Metronome, surprisingly enough. A peculiar city consisting of haphazardly placed buildings in masses,
winding alleyways, skewed rooftops and huge steam engines why not. A city where the life of every citizen is dictated by the Corporation, a single bureaucratic entity that owns all the land, the entire infrastructure and all the industries.
This came to be because the company managed to uncover the secret of a wondrous machine capable of creating ideas and designs for world-building. Possessing this knowledge the Corporation set out to construct their own version of this machine. With the machine finished the requirement for maintenance arose, the machine and newly constructed areas needed a workforce to make sure everything was running smoothly. And what better way to employ some workers than to kidnap children, suck out their souls and put them to work?
So things were all well and good then, until a young man training to become a steam-train engineer one day met a girl aboard the train he was working on. She makes him question the purpose of life in the city, is the Corporation to be trusted? Could it be that it is evil? Together you both set off on a quest to unravel the Corporation's mysterious, probably evil plans.
How's it all work then?
Metronome's gameplay differs from your average adventure game in that it features problems solved by creating, recording, modifying and using environmental sounds. All the sounds generated in the environment can be recorded with an apparatus the player character carries around on his back. If there is no sound in the environment you can create your own by for instance pushing a bookcase down some stairs, throwing a rock through a window or annoying someone to the point of them shouting angrily in your general direction.
After having created and recorded a sound, you can then change the pitch and frequency of this one base sound to produce modifications of it. Different types of sounds, be they loud and aggressive, or high pitched and quiet will have different effects on different things. For instance, one type of enemy might react badly to loud, destructive noises, so it might be good to have one of those in your arsenal. Other practical uses might be using a specific sound at a specific time to confuse or distract a citizen. Or recording a citizen's voice to get past a voice-activated lock. You can also play soothing, seductive sounds to change the behavior of listeners.
Who are these people?
The city is inhabited by odd, outlandish citizens who perform their chores day and night. You'll stumble upon the following a fair bit.
Children who have had their souls taken away from them. They roam the city like mindless zombies, performing menial tasks. The player is able to take control of them by playing soothing, melodious sounds to them. They then follow your every whim. If you tell them to toss themselves into a grinder they will gladly oblige. In the name of stopping evil, so it's all for a good cause.
ScoutsA less friendly fellow. Metronome's police force essentially. Powered and animated solely by the souls stolen from metrognomes, a scout doesn't necessarily have to be human, but can take the form of any humanoid invention. If you need to confront them you can scare the soul out of them by bombarding them with loud noises.