Metal: HellsingerThe final showdown against the demon Red Judge is the epitome of unparalleled badassery.
Demonic revolvers fire on all cylinders as System of a Down’s eccentric Serj Tankian screams at the top of his voice in ‘No Tomorrow’. I pull the trigger to the rhythmic crash of the drumbeat: one hit, another, then a third hit, all in sync with the song. Even the red judge’s fireballs fly in tandem with the intensity of the music. Before I know it, a final poke in the eye definitely ends the downed beast as the song reaches a triumphant climax.
Metal: Hellsinger maintains this level of intensity in virtually every encounter of the 5-hour adventure through hell, delivering the most explosive and compelling musical game – possibly ever.
Metal: Hellsinger is a first-person shooter with a rhythm twist: you have to pull the trigger to the beat of the songs – and the whole soundtrack is intense metal music. You play as a demon called The Unknown who must descend into hell to defeat the demon who stole your voice.
While the gameplay is tight and fluid, rivaling DOOM or Halo, the music steals the show with a heavy soundtrack that pulls no punches. Each song also features a prominent metal vocalist, adding flavor to the already remarkable score composed by Two Feathers.
Expect to hear the powerful vocals of Trivium’s Matt Heafy, Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmayluk, Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and the aforementioned Serj Tankian of Grammy Award-winning band System of a Down (among many others).
Just like other rhythm-based games, Metal: Hellsinger encourages you to achieve the highest possible score. If you shoot an enemy in time to the song, your combo increases, but if you’re out of tempo or take damage, your combo resets. You need to sink into a groove and keep up with the beat of the song to increase your score. Scorehunters will likely find it hard to stop this game; I know I did.
But you aren’t just encouraged to match the timing for a high score. As you build up your combo, more musical layers emerge – starting with drums and bass, then guitars, then the whole band comes in before the vocalist ties it all together. Since the music is so intrinsically tied to this game’s DNA, it’s satisfying to see it work with the gameplay in a harmonious way.
hellish singerit is The best moments are when you finally get in sync with the timing of the music, going into a zen flow, as each pull of the trigger works as an extension of the song. The fast bass pedal of a drum set has always been compared to the sound of a machine gun in metal music, and in hellish singerthis comparison becomes a violent reality.
You don’t just cast out demons; You make music.
A metalhead’s dream
It is arguably the most important metal-themed video game ever released. Sure, Guitar Hero: Metallica did a fantastic job in 2009, but Metal: Hellsinger dives into the depths, featuring heavier music that can alienate a general audience. But it’s this commitment to heavy music that gives it such an authentic identity. Mainstream audiences will be obsessed with this game, but it’s also likely to capture some new metal fans in the process.
The developers of The Outsiders have clearly approached the game with an affectionate reverence for metal in general. Its soundtrack is neither rock nor even hard rock; it’s heavy, aggressive, opposite METAL, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Any individual track could make your grandma break out the holy water – and I absolutely adore her for it.
No matter how heavy, every song always incorporates a nifty melody, whether it’s Heafy’s impressively high vocal range during the Incaustis scene; the catchy, spacy keyboard passage during Gehenna; or the jagged guitar riffs during Acheron. There’s an ebb and flow to every song, giving you some downtime between the walls of thick, low-pitched heaviness. (And yes, sometimes it DJENTS.)
The wide variety of metal music in hellish singer is not only a testament to Two Feather’s skills as musicians, but also to the abilities of the distinct singers. One moment you’ll hear Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz singing her famous operatic vocal lines, and the next she’s literally sounding like Satan. It takes a lot of talent to write and perform this kind of music, so the onslaught of tracks is delightfully oppressive.
Thrills, kills and no frills
The way the core mechanics bolster the gameplay definitely feels smart, bolstered by the perfect pacing. The battles never get old as you take on a variety of demons ranging from weak grunts to shielded Cambions and almighty Siege Behemoths. Each forces you to fight differently while respecting the relentless rhythm.
Siege Behemoths rush in from what seems like miles away, so The Unknown’s handy sidestep ability is the clutch. Pulling off a successful maneuver like this – especially to the beat of an ass-kicking metal song – is one of the most satisfying in-game feelings you’ll have this year.
There’s also a wide variety of weapons at your disposal, including the Terminus sword, the Persephone shotgun, and my favourite: the Hounds, a set of long-range hand cannons. Since each gun has a different rate of fire, it takes a bit of practice to learn how to fire them to the rhythm of the songs, but figuring that out is part of the fun. It’s like learning a new instrument when you already know the basics of music — an instrument of death, This is. Some weapons work best on specific enemy types, so you’re encouraged to experiment to find out the best times to use them.
Bosses bombard you with projectiles like what you’d see in a hellish game, but thanks to the way the difficulty increases, it never feels overwhelming. Most of them look like clones, but unique abilities give encounters some variety. For example, The Doppelganger Aspect boss sends duplicates of himself onto the battlefield, so the only way to deal damage is to hit the “true” one. The Wheel Aspect encounter features a strong gravitational pull that can drag you into the fiery depths of hell if you’re not careful. Each of the game’s battles – whether against bosses or standard enemies – will leave you wanting more.
There’s nothing like Metal: Hellsinger. Diehard metal fans will no doubt fall in love with it instantly, but the overall experience is satisfying and compelling enough to serve as a gateway into the metal genre for newcomers. He perfectly embodies the passion, energy and emotion that all metalheads share.
Reverse saw again Metal: Hellsinger on PS5. It’s available now for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
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