Metal Hellsinger is a heck of a time. While the game’s core story and premise don’t offer up anything relatively new, there’s something completely wonderful in the way it delivers its head-banging, visceral gameplay. Combining fast-paced demon slaying action with a beat to stick to, Metal Hellsinger has some of the most unique first person shooting you’ll likely ever experience.
As someone who absolutely adores rhythm games, I couldn’t have been more delighted with how developers The Outsiders nailed the feeling of slaying demons to a rip-roaring soundtrack that’ll make Mick Gordon proud. Composed of eight hells to venture through, the soundtrack, which lends vocal talents from well-known metal artists like Matt Heafy from Trivium and Serj Tankian from System of a Down, is brutally metal in all the right ways.
I found myself enamored with the way the game seamlessly blends the audio mix with what’s happening on-screen, too. As you play through the game you’ll be tasked to match your actions with the beat of the song – doing this will net you a higher score per kill, while also increasing your score multiplier. As your score multiplier increases, more elements of the song will come into play, culminating with the introduction of the song’s vocals. Performing finishers on enemies also has to be done on the beat, in turn giving you a big dose of health to allow you to keep slaying away.
With that said, while the sound mixing and rhythm-focused gameplay mechanics in Metal Hellsinger are excellent, don’t expect much else in the way of game-changing surprises. You’ll slowly unlock new weapons and face new enemies as you venture through the various hells, but the fast-paced, reaction-heavy combat has been seen (and perfected) before. The big draw here is how that’s all mixed in with the game’s soundtrack, and how that sense of beat really adds some punch to the game’s enemy encounters.
The game’s story is fairly forgettable, unfortunately. Acting more as a means to justify your rip and tear-induced journey across Hell, there’s just not a lot of spine to it. You play as The Unknown, a Hellsinger who’s had her voice taken from her by The Red Judge. Throughout the game, you’ll make your way through eight hells taking on aspects sent by The Red Judge in a bid to reclaim your voice. Performances from Troy Baker and Jennifer Hale certainly help raise the quality of the story a notch or two, however I didn’t really take much interest in it at all – especially when I was more keen to hear the next song I’d be slaying demons to.
Throughout the game’s five-hour campaign, you’ll unlock side levels called torments. Completing torments will award you with sigils, which act as a way of upgrading your character. Successfully completing them will give you a new ability to add to your loadout as you enter a level, with abilities ranging from never dropping below a 2x multiplier to doing more damage when low on health.
Torments were a nice distraction from the game’s main levels, though they were the only real piece of side content in the game. After you finish the game’s main campaign and the 21 or so torments, there’s not much else to really do. Unless you’re keen to battle it out on the leaderboards on the three difficulty levels offered, there’s just not a lot of replayability available in the game which is disappointing.
I also found the environments to be fairly indifferent throughout my time with the game. Each of the hells you venture through all have the same basic style to them, with areas locking off every now and again and inevitably pushing you into similar-styled fights. Because of this, it all started to feel a bit repetitive after a few hours.
The highlights within each level, though, were the aspect boss fights. Even so, I was disappointed to hear the same boss fight song start up every single time aside from the final fight in the game. That said, these encounters were really enjoyable and varied up the gameplay enough.
The Outsiders have come up with an interesting gameplay formula within Metal Hellsinger. The moment to moment gameplay is strong, yet it’s let down by an uninteresting story and quite a bit of repetition across the board. That said, if you’re after an FPS with some flavour and style to it, there’s nothing quite like its rhythm-focused demon slaying out there.
Metal Hellsinger’s rhythm-driven gameplay is something special, though it's marred by an uninteresting story and repetitive design.