Published on October 11th, 2022 | by Brent Thomas
Metal Hellsinger Review #XSX
Summary: A Heavy Metal Album Comes to Life
Intro and Premise
Ever since The Outsiders released the demo for Metal: Hellsinger, I couldn’t wait to headbang along to the full release. If you’re not sure what to expect, think the gunplay of Doom meets guitar hero in a fast, rhythm based heavy metal first person shooter. It is quite the innovative game set in a world that pays homage to many heavy metal tropes. And it gets a lot right.
I’m aware of how subjective it is to review a video game. But as a hardcore heavy metal fan and guitarist, this game just appeals to me on so many levels. I had a blast from start to finish.
Gameplay and Musical Mechanics
You play as The Unknown, attempting to fend off hordes of foes over 8 varied hellish levels. Each ending in a boss fight against the devil known as The Red Judge. The ubiquitous Troy Baker offers a great voice acting role, but the story is not overly memorable. Told via animated cutscenes in between levels and in game dialogue.
Gameplay wise, you attack enemies to the rhythm of a beating crosshair in time with the game’s epic metal soundtrack. You are rewarded for slaying enemies accurately on time to the beat and actions such as shooting, reloading, jumping, and dashing correctly will increase your multiplier. This multiplier starts at x1 where you hear a minimalistic, stripped back version of the game’s great heavy metal tunes. As you complete consecutive actions your multiplier will continually increase from x1 to x2, x4, x8, where the soundtrack gradually adds layers like heavier guitars, more drums and keyboards. Continuing on-beat builds up the music’s intensity until at x16 the full form of the song is reached. By this point maxing your multiplier reveals the song’s vocals in full form and allows you to output maximum damage. It is a lot of over the top fun.
Conversely, your multiplier will decrease if you take damage or complete actions that are miss timed off the beat of the song. There is a rewarding quick reload mechanic (on-beat of course) if you can time it right. I found myself quickly getting into a flow state and intuitively shooting along to the thundering bassy drumbeats. It is worth repeating how satisfying and hypnotic it is to get a string of well-timed shots with a “perfect” rating to the 4/4 beat. Fans of ID Software’s Doom Eternal will be right at home here, but with more precision required.
I really enjoyed each pumping and catchy metal anthem the game had to offer, as a hardcore heavy metal fan. The star-studded line-up included vocal performances from some of my favourite modern metal acts such as Matt Heafy from Trivium, Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy and Serj Tankian from System of A Down.
There is a reasonably good variety of weapons at your disposal. Each with unique attack range, spread and reload speed. Each offering a unique way to slay enemies but also varies how the beat of the song feels. For example, the shotgun (think classic Doom barrelled combat shotgun) will shoot on 1 beat and then cock itself to the next beat. I quickly found a rhythm by chaining actions such as shoot, dash, shoot, jump, shoot, reload… repeat. It feels great. Whereas the long range pistols had a different feel, allowing you to shoot 8 beats in a row before needing to reload- but with less damage than the shotgun of course. Each weapon has an ultimate attack, that builds up faster with consecutive hits and best saved up for tougher enemies and mini bosses.
The graphics and art style are very much in line with an ‘80s Iron Maiden or Metallica album cover. But the world’s colour palette and environments don’t have the level of variety or polish that a game like Doom Eternal, which is hard not to compare with Hellsinger.
It took me around 8 hours to complete the game from start to finish. Which is on the shorter side, but I enjoyed every minute of every beat of the game. There is certainly replay ability with 3 difficulty levels and global online leader boards. You can also complete additional short missions to unlock Sigils, that act like medals to improve your abilities- such as maintaining your multiplier for longer or forgiving the odd miss timed shot (useful for those less musically inclined).
While the first few boss fights were fun, the initial 7 became quite similar at the end of each world. However, the final boss was a blast to fight, with a unique twist to song choice and boss arena (vague here to avoid spoilers 😊). The weapons available were satisfying to use but I would have loved more variety.
Overall, if you are a metalhead like me then this is absolutely the fps you need to try. It’s free on Xbox Gamepass currently, so no excuse not to try it! The game’s negatives are quite minor, and I could not stop headbanging to the beat all the way through the campaign. There is nothing quite like getting into the zone and chaining together a string of shoot, jump, dash, reload on the beat in Metal Hellsinger. Here’s hoping for some DLC or a fully fledged sequel so we can do it all over again.