Few comedic games deliver both writing and functional gameplay. Some can be too goofy, while others have an identity crisis halfway through and present some overly serious plot change. However, Unmetal knows what it is, which allows it to keep the laughs coming without compromising any enjoyment derived from the gameplay.
Unmetal wears all of its influences on its sleeves, the most obvious being the original Metal Gear games. The basic gameplay has you sneaking around soldiers, knocking them unconscious, and earning experience each time you take someone down undetected.
With enough experience, you can upgrade a skill. These are passive buffs, such as adding an extra punch attack or healing quicker. It’s enough to fine-tune to fit your playstyle but not enough to hinder any challenge.
Throughout the game, you can obtain weapons, but I found punching to be the best way to deal with threats outside of a few circumstances. These moments are told to you clearly through gameplay or story. So when I found myself dying more than usual in an encounter, a gun was the solution.
Direction might be the only area of gameplay that caused significant confusion as it sometimes isn’t clear what you should be doing next. The narration helps set goals, but often you are left on your own to figure out the next step. I figured out most puzzles by looking at the items in my inventory and making some educated guesses.
The story follows a simple structure: Jesse Fox is actively telling the tale to an outsider. This delivery allows the narrative to change according to player choice. It also adds a layer of replayability that I appreciated in a title like this.
Often the choices are intending to either change difficulty of an encounter or go for something more outlandish. At one point, Jesse answers whether or not he saw a bunch of rats in the sewer. Choosing “No” has him explain a bizarre theory about squirrels. Only to have the following section feature these squirrels.
These frequent lies to the listener are the best use of Jesse as the narrator. Usually, this would make him an unreliable narrator and untrustworthy. However, he is quick to let you know what part was a lie or just comes up with an excuse.
The reasons can be vague and vary, from toxic fumes messing with his head to him being stubborn about jumping across a gap. Nevertheless, everything said help paint who Jesse is, and he is never afraid to tell the story exactly as he remembers it.
Unmetal parodies its influences brilliantly as it’s clear the developers are true fans of the series. I found myself enjoying each moment of gameplay based on the randomness that occurs in each scene. Still, the game itself is quite fun to play, even if the jokes don’t land for you.
In its current state, Unmetal is highly polished and can only get better. I’m looking forward to continuing this tale with Jesse and whatever he has in store for the adventure.
UnMetal is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PC this summer.
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