Metal: Hellsinger Review
If the concept of a Doom-style FPS game that lets you slay demons while metal music from Serj Tankian (System of a Down) shreds in the background doesn’t interest you one bit, I’m here to tell you that it should.
And it will.
Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm-based FPS hybrid that will be familiar to those that have played titles like BPM: Bullets Per Minute or Crypt of the Necrodancer, but ditches some of the gimmicks for a more straightforward experience that’s tough to put down.
The satisfying marriage of beats and blood is at the core of the game, and despite the curve required to unlearn certain FPS habits and slay to the beat, the trip through hell is a rollercoaster ride filled with guitar riffs and metal that’s as heavy as it can get.
Mosh Pit of Death
Metal: Hellsinger places a heavy emphasis on flow and rhythm, where players are tasked with firing their arsenal to match the beat of the song. While not required, beat matching is certainly encouraged as it gives advantages, such as dealing more damage.
As early as now, you can imagine that button mashing is clearly out of the question, and you’ll need to undergo a paradigm shift from a typical FPS game to one that requires equal amounts of precision and timing.
Metal: Hellsinger employs a beat-based crosshair that players will have to get familiar with throughout the game. There’s a steady pulse that can easily be followed, but things will surely get hectic as you double-jump and dash your way through hell, shooting and slashing everything, all while following a set rhythm.
This flow will prove to be challenging for those who cannot march to the beat. Metal: Hellsinger will not hold your hand with auto-beat modes or options for slower pulses. There is a learning curve to the game that not many will appreciate, but overcoming this climb will reward you with an intoxicating loop that feels as good as it sounds.
Metal: Hellsinger’s moment-to-moment gameplay is where it truly shines, taking the best elements of fast-paced mobility-based shooters and mixing them up with rhythm-based mechanics such as a combo meter and multiplier. It’s an odd combination, for sure, but one that works flawlessly.
Music to my Eyes…
Seeing it is definitely a pleasure, as Metal: Hellsinger completely strays away from the filter-laden look that BPM uses to a more Doom-like level of visual fidelity that makes everything look crunchier and more visceral, fully complementing its mechanics.
The levels of Hell are vast and varied – from the snowy (yes, snowy) peaks of Voke to the catacombs of Yhelm – each level is beautifully designed, and combat encounters happen in places that put emphasis on constant movement.
Metal: Hellsinger also has a variety of demons that require different approaches, forcing players to formulate an effective strategy and loadout to maximize runs through a level. There are basic fodder demons that will try to swarm you, while some will shoot fire from afar. Some elite enemies will use shields, and may require you to take a more in-your-face approach to get shots in.
On the other hand, bosses provide another layer of challenge, weaving together traversal mechanics along with bullet-hell projectiles that make the victory that much sweete.
The satisfaction of sight and sound also extends to the weapons of Metal: Hellsinger, and while there aren’t that many to choose from, each weapon feels and plays differently enough to greatly affect how you choose to play the game.
You’ll start out with a sword known as Terminus and a fireball-spitting skull named Paz, which will be an integral element of the gameplay loop. Paz can increase your fury meter even outside of combat encounters as long as you fire along with the beat, making reaching and maintaining the next multiplier easier.
Metal: Hellsinger also has a Slaughter mechanic, which is similar to Doom’s Glory Kills, which is one of the few ways to refill your health and further increase your multiplier. Getting the max multiplier of 16x is important for many reasons, one of which will be mentioned in a bit, because it ensures you are dishing out max damage against the hordes of hell.
Soon after, the game rewards you with a shotgun, double revolvers, and even an explosive crossbow-type weapon, each with its own playstyle and ultimate abilities. The selection is quite small for an FPS game, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the developers have made combat and gunplay extremely satisfying. Each bullet fired has an appropriate amount of heft and punch that doesn’t get drowned out by the background music.
Completing levels will unlock Torments – challenge-type levels that have certain conditions to overcome. Challenges range from simple “kill X enemies within the time limit” to more creative ones like changing your weapons each time you vanquish an enemy.
Apart from the simple fact that it gives you a reason to wreak more havoc, completing these Torments will reward players with Sigils that boost your abilities such as retaining your hit streak even after getting hit. It gives players a good reason to replay some of the previous levels once you have an optimized loadout going on, allowing for higher scores and bragging rights on the global leaderboards.
Metal: Hellsinger has an interesting way of powering the player up. Instead of directly adding more damage, these sigils instead work around the Fury and combo mechanics of the game, rewarding players that keep to the beat.
… and Ears
All of this crumbles without fantastic music to slay with, and Metal: Hellsinger delivers that in spades, with a powerhouse cast of artists that could easily make up an album of the year nominee. You’ll get tracks from Randy Blythe of Lamb of God to Matt Heafy of Trivium, each with rocking riffs that really bring the game to life.
The music of the game does not only fulfill its role to set the backdrop of carnage but also encourages players to max out their multipliers because of its ingenious implementation of vocals.
Throughout the course of Metal: Hellsinger, the tracks being played are purely instrumental, but once you max out your multiplier at 16x, the vocals seamlessly make their way to complete the experience. Not only does this add incentive to keep firing to the beat, but the experience is greatly elevated by the growls and screams of these world-class artists.
Whatever your view of metal music and FPS games, or a combination of both, Metal: Hellsinger is an adrenaline-filled rhythmic rampage that’s all killer and no filler.
What We Liked:
- Unique and extremely satisfying gameplay
- Smashing soundtrack
- Global leaderboards add near-unlimited replayability
- Satisfying way of integrating vocals into the tracks
What We Didn’t Like:
- Less coordinated players will struggle a lot
- The game will not be for everybody
Verdict: Buy it!
Metal: Hellsinger is a smashing good time thanks to its unique mix of mechanics and heavy metal soundtrack that delights and excites. The pace is extremely fast, and players will have to manage by juggling many things at the same time, but its satisfying and rewarding gunplay is enough to keep you locked in.
That said, the game is not for everybody, and less coordinated players will rue the lack of auto-beat matching options. The game has a decent difficulty curve, but some won’t even make it past the tutorial because of its rhythm mechanics.
It doesn’t take away from the fact that Metal: Hellsinger is a fantastic outing that’s enjoyable and fairly challenging at the same time. We’ll certainly be on the lookout for possible track additions, but for now, it’s time to lay waste to the hordes of hell once again.
*Metal: Hellsinger was reviewed on PC with a review code provided by the publisher.