If you’re a fan of metal music, hellish landscapes and fast-paced first-person shooter action, it’s safe to say that you’ll love Metal: Hellsinger.
Cast as The Unknown, you want your voice back. And the only way you’re going to get it is if you fight your way through the eight Hells and defeat the Red Judge. Thankfully you’ve got the skills and determination to reach your goal, as well as a powerful arsenal that will expand on your journey. But ultimately, The Unknown’s success is all on you.
Metal: Hellsinger could have just been another run-of-the-mill first-person shooter, and chances are we would have liked it as so. It tries to do something a little bit different, however, and doing so somewhat elevates it. The metal music that plays in the background here is actually integral to the experience, with you needing to perform actions to the beat. Perform well and your multiplier increases, not only providing multiple benefits, but also introducing additional layers to the music. Needless to say, when you’re on top of everything and the vocals kick in, you genuinely feel like a badass.
It’s not the first time that rhythm-based gameplay has been merged with first-person shooter action – BPM: Bullets Per Minute had a good crack at it back in 2020 – but never before has it felt like a match made in heaven. Shooting and performing to the beat feels intuitive – natural, even – and with the amount of damage you inflict increasing in line with your multiplier, you feel rewarded for playing well. As if the music becoming ever more epic wasn’t enough.
Each of the eight Hells you’re required to battle through on your adventure are expectedly gloomy yet still offer their own unique sights, and new enemies are doled out a decent rate. Starting with just a projectile-firing skull and an ornate blade, you’ll soon put together a more varied arsenal, too, including a shotgun, dual pistols, and even a pair of boomerangs.
You’ll soon find that each weapon is particularly effective against certain adversaries or in particular situations, especially when you also take into consideration their ultimate attacks that require a gauge to be charged before use. The kicker is, aside from your magical skull and sharp blade, which never leave your side, you can only carry another two weapons, forcing you to carefully think about your loadout before delving into your next Hell.
Head straight through the story of Metal: Hellsinger and you’ll perhaps see the credits roll in around four hours. The better way to approach it, however, is to complete the Torments that are unlocked as you complete each Hell. These time-based challenges test your skills in various ways, and by completing them you unlock and upgrade sigils. Two of these can be equipped when entering a Hell, each providing a benefit that can make your time with the game a little more forgiving.
Factor in multiple difficulty levels and global leaderboards that allow you to compare your performances with others around the world, and you have a game that may seem light on content on the surface, but could actually keep you occupied for tens of hours. But there are some issues that may give potential players pause for thought.
The first are Metal: Hellsinger‘s boss fights, which are very samey for the most part. You’ll fight against the same demonic entity at the end of most stages, with little separating how you approach them. The second is that when you’re on form, playing Metal: Hellsinger feels great. But when you fall into a rut, it all falls down. Miss the beat and you’re likely to stumble, and perhaps even struggle to get back on track. It can feel demoralising and frustrating, especially when it leads to death. But at least stages are short enough that replaying them doesn’t feel like a hardship.
With vocals from the likes of Trivium’s Matt Heafy and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, the music of Metal: Hellsinger will go down a treat with metal fans. The fact that it’s married with gameplay that is equally impressive, then, should speak volumes. This is a unique first-person shooter that not only uses music to drive the action, but also uses it as a reward. And with both music and gameplay of such a high standard, only those who absolutely abhor metal need not jump in.