Title: Metal: Hellsinger
Developer: The Outsiders
Release Date: September 15, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Rhythm, FPS
Music is a language that surmounts any barriers, and it’s a perfect way to get your emotions across. So, I’m sure it’s no wonder that music has been a crucial part of video games since the early days of gaming, and it shouldn’t be a surprise when games start making music a central mechanic. Metal: Hellsinger may not be the first to incorporate this idea, but it is one of the most striking examples of merging music and carnage.
Metal: Hellsinger puts players in the shoes of the Unknown, a human-demon hybrid seeking vengeance against the Red Judge. Alongside her is Pax, a skull that does more than enough talking for the pair. Together they climb through each layer of Hell and slaughter hordes of demons that happen to get in their way.
This story isn’t a significant factor in enjoying Metal: Hellsinger, as Pax delivers the bulk of narration and often comments on what the pair are doing at the moment. The actual story is delivered between every combat arena and stage. These are substantial information dumps that can last around five minutes each. While interesting, these scenes could have been spread out more evenly across the game.
The dialogue, however, is memorable enough as Pax, voiced by Troy Baker, tries to wax poetic about their situation. Even going as far as to say that his voice is the Unknown’s voice and that their songs would mix. This simple fact heavily emphasizes the music that permeates the halls of Hell.
A single song represents each layer of Hell that cycles between instrumentals and vocals depending on how well the player slays to the beat. At its core, Hellsinger is a rhythm game. Players who have trouble hearing each beat will find each encounter to be more demanding than it should be.
However, a redeeming feature for those needing a hand with keeping a steady beat is the shotgun. This weapon is one of the first that players will find roaming the halls of Hell. Not only does it pack a punch against enemies close, but it has its own consistent rhythm. Each cock of the gun lines up with an offbeat, allowing players still learning the tempo of a song to learn it and rack up easy fury.
The more fury the player has, the more damage is done, and the more intense the music gets until it crescendos into lyrics belting across the battlefield. This simple progression of music rewards the player for doing well by making each beat more pronounced than before and maximizing damage to enemies.
Despite this advantage, players will notice difficulty keeping a streak going, as missing any beat or sustaining damage will drain fury and force a dropped combo. This abruptness can be jarring as the more devastating the injury, the more fury drains away, and the weaker the player becomes. In addition, lyrics will also abruptly end any time fury goes below a sixteen multiplier, which can cause players to fumble the beat and have them scrambling to back away and recover.
This penalty adds a layer of tension to each encounter as an attack can not only cost players their life but could cause them to fumble a song and restart the entire stage. There are other means of keeping your combos high, though. Sigils are enhancements for players to adapt to their playstyle. In addition, once players have cleared a stage, they will have several challenge missions unlocked.
These challenge missions usually involve killing a set amount of demons within a specific time limit with a random constraint. These restrictions can be anything between each kill that forces the player to switch their weapon to needing to kill demons with an ultimate attack. These missions are a nice breakup between each level and allow players to practice their style of carnage before moving on to the next stage.
However, none of this would make any sense if the music isn’t any good. As mentioned above, the track list consists of Metal featuring genre legends, from System of a Down to Lamb of God. So, an appreciation of the genre will significantly enhance the enjoyment of the title.
These tracks are fantastic even for neophytes of the genre, and once a groove has settled in, players will find themselves lost in the music as tracks follow them outside the carnage. The primary issue is that only ten tracks are included in the main package, making up an album that would be around an hour in length.
With this length, an experienced player can quickly complete all the stages. However, this approach will have players begging for more tracks as they replay the existing stages to beat others’ high scores.
Metal: Hellsinger is a pleasant blend of action and rhythm, allowing players to get lost in the mayhem of Hell. While a relatively short campaign might leave players wanting more, what’s already there is an excellent package that fans of rhythm and action will immediately agree is a classic. Metal: Hellsinger will be singing for years to come, and hopefully, there will be some new songs on the horizon.
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