[BITE-SIZED REVIEW] ‘Metropolis: Lux Obscura’ is an Equally Stylish and Disappointing Match-Three/Visual Novel Hybrid

Metropolis: Lux Obscura
Developer: Sometimes You
Publisher: Sometimes You
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Price: $7.99 USD

Bite-sized Reviews differ from our more traditional, full-length reviews in that they’re restricted to smaller titles and, as the name implies, trims the fat in favor of getting straight to the point. What is this game and why should you care? Let’s get to that below!

So, what is Metropolis: Lux Obscura?

A Sin City-inspired noir tale of Jon Lockhart’s release from prison after being framed for the murder of an old friend. The key witness is dead but you still have low friends in high places, so it’s time to do a little detective work. Emphasis on “little.” While Metropolis has an admirable aesthetic that oozes style and really assists in bringing the city and its denizens to life, the visual novel segments (complete with ample amounts of violence and boobs) are short-lived and broken up by a fairly generic match-three game. You see, Jon still has his temper and the punks, drug dealers, and Elvis impersonators won’t hesitate to match faces with fists.

In typical match-three fashion, you’re presented with a grid adorned with a variety of images: a fist, a chain, boots, health packs, police badges, little Fred Durst heads, and more. You can move any shape along its horizontal and vertical axis wherever you’d like, so long as it matches three of a kind. Jon and his opponent have a certain amount of health and the objective is to deplete theirs before our newly released anti-hero takes a permanent dirt nap. Matching things like fists and boots attack the opposition, while Fred Durst heads build up an anger meter that increases Jon’s overall damage. Health kits act as you’d imagine, though rarely heal for any substantial amount. Police are never on your side, as the game is quick to point out, so you’ll have to avoid matching them or risk losing additional health.

Defeating your opponent rewards Jon with a choice of perks, ranging from increased damage and healing, reduced enemy damage, less police badge tiles, and more.

However, it’s all over before you know it.

Why should you care?

Match-three games are a dime a dozen on mobile devices but there aren’t many to choose from on the Nintendo Switch. Metropolis: Lux Obscura isn’t the deepest match-three in the genre and it’s chock full of noir cliches, but it’s still a somewhat interesting take on a stale formula. It certainly doesn’t have the depth of something like Puzzle Quest but lends itself to be far more entertaining than Candy Crush Saga entirely due in part to its stylish presentation.

Where does it go wrong?

When it comes to match-three games, the fun for me lies in pre-planning moves in order to build the best combos. However, with Metropolis, I never reached that level of enjoyment. The game itself felt incredibly easy at the start and only got easier as more perks unlocked with each win. Then I got to the Elvis impersonator and got decimated 15 straight times. Talk about an odd difficulty spike. I appreciate what Metropolis tries to do, offering a way to heal and increase Jon’s damage output mid-battle, but those turns often felt wasted as enemies began to deal significant amounts of damage. It certainly felt more like luck than skill, which was a bummer. After talking with folks on Twitter who were also playing, this particular encounter seemed to give everyone a fair bit of trouble. Their advice? “Sometimes you just get lucky.” Luck isn’t fun.

The story of Jon’s release and framed murder, as well as every woman’s role being reduced to nothing more than sex objects, isn’t all that interesting either. If you’ve read or watched any gritty noir tale, you already know where it’s headed the moment the first cinematic hits. The quality of the voice acting is all over the place and the writing feels a bit too try-hard sometimes (I cringed whenever Bliss, Jon’s stripper friend, called him “Cockhard” instead of “Lockhart”). For a small, affordable indie made by an equally small development studio, it’s not necessarily awful, but grading on a curve isn’t what we’re here to do.

As Digitally Downloaded’s Matt S. pointed out in their review, the way the developers casually throw around mental illness as a way to “toughen up” Jon Lockhart by way of post-match perks is pretty gross. I’m not too sure what I expected from a game whose bullet points included “obscenity and sexism.” The developer’s explanation in the linked interview with Kotaku is about what you’d expect. Woof.

Okay, so is it worth checking out?

It’s an incredibly short experience with a bit too much emphasis on match-three randomness than actual skill, but it’s not awful. Aside from the art style and the game’s attempt at storytelling, though, it doesn’t do much else to push itself beyond being just “average.” Match-three is a niche genre, but it’s one that can be fun under the right circumstances. However, the actual gameplay bits that Metropolis offers doesn’t break any new ground and fails to do its visual flair any justice.

Metropolis: Lux Obscura is an affordably priced, brief match-three jaunt that’s an okay choice to kill a road trip or work commute, but doesn’t offer much beyond that. I don’t regret my time spent with it (given a playthrough lasts less than two hours and there are four different endings to see), but it’s not something I’ll be recommending to new Switch owners. You’re certainly safe spending your money elsewhere.

We don’t use a scoring system here at Cheap Boss Attack, so hopefully you found the information above far more informative than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes. 

A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.

2 thoughts on “[BITE-SIZED REVIEW] ‘Metropolis: Lux Obscura’ is an Equally Stylish and Disappointing Match-Three/Visual Novel Hybrid

  1. I think the game would have benefited from more modes, as the story is so short. During my playthrough I suffered a handful of Game Overs, but managed to beat Elvis on my second attempt. Maybe the build I used helped out? I focused on boosting the med packs, lowering enemy damage and triggering health every few turns. I suck at puzzle games so my plan was to soak up damage.


    1. That perk lineup definitely helped out. I had to start over and focus more on healing, since it wasn’t apparent I needed it much (beyond improved medkits) until the Elvis fight. I improved the anger meter first, but it felt like a waste since the increased damage was barely noticeable and it took so many matches of the face tiles to even hit 2X damage.

      Liked by 1 person

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