XP: Metrofinal Transantiago

15 Nov

Metrofinal by Jonathan Walton is one of those odd games that don’t neatly classify. It is just different enough that you can’t bring any assumptions in with you.

A NEW WORLD IS BORN

The primary way in which you interact with the game is by describing this surreal world as it comes to a close. This usually involves two players, one playing a bodhisattva and one playing the situation at a given station. The license to go all out on weird trippy narration is very freeing. It’s a very neat experience to explore this unfamiliar turf. The result is a strangely Jungian spiritual journey through a landscape you can only barely understand, while in pursuit of a goal that is only metaphorically possible. This certainly captivates the subject matter of the game quite well.

Constructing the subway system is interesting. There is very little about it that influences the game play directly. Only once did this influence game play when two players were cautiously trying to position themselves in order to unlock the fourth event at a station. Otherwise, it was only a minor inconvenience at most to go to any station you wanted to go. It makes me question whether or not the rail system adds anything other than color. Which is fine if that’s all, but maybe there is something more (or less) that can be done here.

A LETHAL WOUND

I have two concerns about Metrofinal.

First of all, it takes a long time to play, and requires a lot of players. You easily need eight hours for a whole game. In a little more than five hours of play we still had quite a ways to go to finish all of the stations.

With a lot of players, and largely having one on one narration, those other players are going to sit there for quite a while.

Lastly, there is some concern about character agency. Some scenes filled the surreal conditions before the acting player did much of anything. Perhaps a second condition about what the bodhisattvas ought to accomplish or change could be added into the scene structure.

Overall I really enjoy Metrofinal. It is bizarre and refreshing. I think we could use more “spiritual” games like these. If you have seven like minded friends and an afternoon and evening to kill then you owe it to yourself to try this game from beyond the edge.

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