Metal: Hellsinger Review

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Metal: Hellsinger is a prime example of how a mechanical twist can reignite a well-worn formula. Doom’s legacy looms large when a game weaves depictions of unrelenting hell and the fury-laden chugs of a metal soundtrack, but Metal: Hellsinger’s feels decidedly fresh. We can attribute this to developer The Outsiders’ efforts to graft a polished rhythm game to an equally impressive FPS. They merge as one to offer an experience so blisteringly focused that there’s little out there quite like it – a match made in hell.

You play as The Unknown, an outcast to outcasts, thrown into the eight hells to fulfill a prophecy, as these things often go. Accompanied by a disembodied skull dubbed Paz, you’ll mow down hordes of the underworld’s finest, triggering an arsenal of weapons to the rhythm of a pounding heavy metal soundtrack. Each shot or slash successfully timed to the beat grants a multiplier that increases damage but also unlocks fresh parts of the musical arrangement. There’s a visceral delight to decapitating a lanky demon and hearing a barrage of double kicks and the rasping roar of one of metal’s most prominent figures kick in.

Metal: Hellsinger Review
Copyright The Outsiders/Funcom, captured by VideoGamer

Bullets, enemies, and the environment pulse to the same rhythm, a demonic cacophony laden with pig squeals and guttural growls of ebbing sunlight, infernos, and eons of longing. Metal: Hellsinger’s best moments emerge when the player becomes one with that visceral beat, a rhythmic carnage that forces your breathing to syncopate with the on-screen aggression. Time seems to stand still as you reach a flow state. Previously unavoidable projectiles seem to slow, a path through them now obvious. Your head nods instinctively, mouse and keyboard conducting the music and mayhem.

The story is told through the affected southern drawl of the ever-prolific Troy Baker, who recounts a tale of scorned ambitions and blind vengeance through short interludes stitched from gorgeous, lightly-animated concept art. They are a highlight and yield an epic spectacle as hell scrambles and destabilizes to fend off this new threat. With a game that leans so heavily on a mechanical novelty, there’s a risk of narrative falling to the wayside, an afterthought. Not here, though; it adds depth and resonance to Hellsinger’s pitch-perfect atmosphere.

Metal: Hellsinger Review
Copyright The Outsiders/Funcom, captured by VideoGamer

Once the initial thrill of these flow state moments subsides and you’ve had your fill of demonic intrigue, Metal: Hellsinger loses some of its luster. Limited enemy variety and arenas that blur into a flash of fiery plinths, monolithic caverns, and apocalyptic skies become all-too familiar very quickly. Slight variations to how boss fights are approached and beaten calcify a sense of ingrained repetition, however frantic, fast, and thick with splintered demonic carcasses it may be.

And, this is where Metal: Hellsinger tends to tail off. The shooter and rhythm game mash-up is cooked and seasoned to perfection, but it’s one-dimensional fare. After powering through Metal: Hellsinger’s 5 to 8-hour story, it’s hard to ground questions about whether there’s more to the experience. The pull of repeating levels in search of better scores wanes rapidly for those indifferent to scaling the leaderboards. Challenge-style levels unlocked after beating a level turn into condensed – and less thrilling – versions of the story’s broader strokes.

Metal: Hellsinger Review
Copyright The Outsiders/Funcom, captured by VideoGamer

Metal: Hellsinger is made for metal fans. Pulling in the likes of System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe to complement Swedish metallers Two Feathers’ compositions attests to that. Concerns about repetition aside, there’s no denying that Metal: Hellsinger achieves what it sets out to do with stacks of style to boot and one of the best game soundtracks heard in a while. For casual FPS fans and those left cold by the furor and lurid imagery of the music, tying everything to metal may, ironically, put many off. But, like many of us who inadvertently encountered metal for the first time during boozy, late-night Guitar Hero and Rock Band sessions, Metal: Hellsinger may muster up its own horde of fresh converts.

About the Author

Tom Bardwell

Tom is guides editor here at VideoGamer.

Metal: Hellsinger Review

verdict

Metal: Hellsinger merges rhythm, violence, and the fury-laden chugs of metal to create a unique kind of carnage that's a pleasure to conduct despite, at times, feeling repetitive.
8 Music Visuals Gameplay Repetitive