It seems like almost forever ago that rhythm games were all the rage. Whether it was Patapon with its unique action/adventure style, or something more traditional like Guitar Hero, with it’s plastic accessories and frantic gameplay. It went on for years, where a new version of the games were being released or some twist on the genre appeared. Then something happened in the early 2010’s where they all seemed to disappear as quickly as they appeared. Sure, there have been other rhythm games since then, but the genre as a whole seemed in need of something fresh to bring it back into the forefront of gamer’s minds.
Metal: Hellsinger, from Swedish developer The Outsiders, is such a game. A combination of rhythm and first-person shooter where you descend into the depths of hell defeating demons with your combination of swords and guns, switching up your weapons as your playstyle demands. There have been countless comparisons to Doom circulating on the web, and with good reason. There is a metal inspired soundtrack, lots of demon slaying action, and the frantic gameplay that would at first be easily written off as a clone. However, it’s the one main distinction of it being a rhythm game that changes up the formula for mostly good.
When you load up the game you are instantly greeted with a beating metronome type crosshair in your GUI. The beat goes along with the metal rock soundtrack that is playing in the background. Success in this game relies heavily on your ability to strike down your foes to the beat of the music. As you successfully strike on each beat, you will be graded on Good and Perfect. With each consecutive perfect score attained your damage and your fury score both increase. The larger your Fury score (up to X16) the higher your damage output and score increases.
Similar to Doom (2016) a perfect hit has the chance to stun an enemy temporarily, allowing you to perform a devastating critical attack that not only kills your opponent, but also drops crystals to boost your health and keep you in the fight longer. There are of course health crystals and other power-ups that can be found along the way as well, always keeping things interesting.
You’ll start the game with your trusty sword, but will encounter various weapons across your playthrough, everything from dueling pistols to shotguns are here. While not the largest variety, I felt it was certainly enough to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting. The enemy varieties are also interesting enough to keep you moving through each of the levels you encounter. One part of the gameplay that takes a little getting used to is fighting the enemies and staying in rhythm. When things get frantic (and they will), it’s almost second nature to fall back into the run-and-gun mechanics that we’ve all be trained for since the very first Doom hit the scene. It’s part of what makes the game unique, but also one of the things that you’ll have to train your brain and adjust for.
Unlike the more recent rogue-like games that have seemed to flood the market, Metal: Hellsinger sticks to level design and a focused gameplay approach. While the game itself is fairly short (right around four hours or so), it makes for a more complete experience. Online leaderboards and high scores are the driving factor for completing multiple playthrough’s to see if you can top others who have come before you.
For those of you who are rocking a Steam Deck I have great news for you. While the game was listed as “Unknown” from a compatibility perspective, I had no problem at all playing it on the Steam Deck. I didn’t run into anomalies or strange crashes and the overall experience was fantastic. The Steam Deck has become one of my new favorite ways to play games, and I’m happy to report that not only did it work extremely well, but it’s also a title that is perfect for playing in bed.
Metal: Hellsinger is an extremely addictive game, and its easy to complete it in one or a few gaming sessions. However, it’s also addicting enough that once you complete it you are happy to jump right back into the mix. The music and art style ensures that this game will have a long life, well past its release dates and with the promise of the ability to add your own music tracks coming down the pipe means you’ll be rocking out and killing demons to some of your favorite Ozzy tunes in no time!
What I liked: fantastic visuals and rocking soundtrack. Addictive and Unique gameplay
What I liked less: Wish it could have gone on a lot longer
4 out of 5 stars