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Metal: Hellsinger is a headbangin' good time

The devs have clearly turned the amps up to 11 with this one.

5

Metal: Hellsinger is the game I’ve always wanted as both a DOOM fan and lover of heavy metal music. While it’s true that DOOM boasts an iconic, headbangin’ soundtrack of its own from Mick Gordon, Metal: Hellsinger is a little different in that the contributing artists are all figures from the metal music scene.

Looking at the artist lineup, it’s clear there’s a nice level of variety when it comes to the game’s soundtrack. Even in the demo, the songs that are played are standouts and ones you’re going to want to listen to over and over again, even when you aren’t playing the game. Trust me, they’re that good.

When it comes to star power, the game already has it in spades even though the full soundtrack has yet to be revealed. And given that Serj Tankian was the most recent reveal, I’m eager to see who else might pop up.

Setting that aside though, Metal: Hellsinger doesn’t rely on the star power of its stellar soundtrack alone; it manages to elevate these songs even further with what you’re able to do in the game itself in conjunction with the music.

Harkening back to the DOOM comparison, there are a number of combat elements that feel reminiscent of Bethesda's 2016 hit such as blasting foes to smithereens with various weapons and getting up close and personal with finishers, along with some enemy and level design elements.

Adding a unique layer of complexity to this tried-and-true enemy blastin’ formula however is the setup where you have to shoot enemies in time with the beat of the music that’s playing in order to deal an effective amount of damage. You can still deal damage if you shoot off-beat, but it’s far less than what you get when you build yourself up with consecutive on-beat hits. Additionally, as you increase your Fury multiplier with consecutive hits (4x, 8x, 16x, etc.) parts of the music will fill in and add to the experience.

Metal: Hellsinger features musicians like Serj Tankian from System of a Down and Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy.

For example, you won’t hear the vocals of a track immediately. Instead, you’ll need to increase your multiplier to 16x in order to enjoy the powerful vocals of tracks like the one that plays in the Stygia level from Two Feathers featuring Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy. If you’re worried about missing aspects of each track should you find yourself unable to get enough on-beat hits in, there’s another way to increase your Fury that encourages map exploration.

More specifically, there are several “Fury Boost'' tokens hidden in each map that’ll help you further increase your Fury multiplier. This is handy because at first shooting in time with the beat can be a tricky thing to master, especially given the chaos happening all around you, and everything else you need to look at and focus on.

Movement in the game both helps and hinders this as you’ll almost certainly find yourself jumping and dashing around all over the place to avoid taking damage, and to pull back from an enemy enough to time your shots. Adding to this, each weapon has its own unique Ultimate that’s far more efficient when used in sync with the beat, making it extra important to time things out correctly to avoid feeling like you wasted it.

You'll do a lot of moving and dashing to avoid enemies and time your shots properly.

It took a few runs, but I was eventually able to get the hang of balancing everything and once that happened, I felt unstoppable. Unfortunately, I wasn’t “unstoppable” in the literal sense of the word as there were times where I perished in battle, especially during those first few runs. Rather than start over from the beginning, the game is generous in offering you the opportunity to respawn at the cost of some of the score you’ve built up which can definitely be worth it when it comes to getting through the game.

For example, you can respawn during a boss fight rather than having to start the encounter over from scratch. The game balances this offer by only allowing you to respawn 2 times, so it can also be worth it to hold on to your respawns for instances like boss fights. I found myself rejecting this respawn offer whenever it was presented to me though, opting instead to restart as I wanted to build up as high of a score as I could to get myself to the top of the game’s leaderboard.

And I did, my nonsensical Steam username “Literally Thousands of Bees” currently sits at the top of the leaderboard. I know it won’t stay there for long, and it’ll be an arduous climb back up to the top once the game is out in full, but having it there for even the briefest of moments feels like a victory for me. I can see how the inclusion of leaderboards will inspire players to replay areas and improve their scores, and in general it’s a nice touch on top of everything else the game has going for it.

Incentive to time your shots well not only includes dealing more damage, but also the possibility of getting to the top of the game's leaderboard.

As for the locales that I explored in the demo, they were all set in one area of the game, Stygia, which boasts a sepia-toned post-apocalyptic cityscape along the lines of DOOM. Or like how Hell is depicted in the 2005 film Constantine.

Moving through Stygia consists of eliminating foes in a series of small, self-contained map areas until the next area opens up, along with a few larger maps for good measure. The bigger the map, the bigger the battle that awaits you. With that being said though, the smaller maps — like the one that you open on in Stygia — were more of a standout for me as there are a number of slow-moving enemies you can pull away from and avoid (for the most part) on some of the larger maps.

With the smaller maps, you’re really forced to confront each and every enemy as they come at you as there’s less of a gap for them to close. As for the enemy types, there are a few unique foes in Stygia with the most common being a winged humanoid demon that’s harmless unless it gets up close and personal with you.

You'll fight a number of different enemy types in Stygia including the towering Behemoth.

Another common enemy is a ranged type that shoots flame balls out of its arm and reminds me a bit of something you might see in the Left 4 Dead series. As long as you can avoid its shots, this one is just as easy as the smaller winged demons to eliminate. Bigger enemies like the Behemoth that runs towards you like a Titan from Attack on Titan though are much harder to take out in comparison, and deal more damage than most of the other enemies you encounter with the exception of the Stalker.

The Stalker is like a mini-boss in that it can deal a lot of damage if you aren’t careful, and moves unexpectedly — sort of teleporting its way over to you — making it harder to get on-beat shots with it. Finally, the Stygia demo ends with a boss battle against “Judge’s second aspect” which is a winged demon with a number of tricks up its sleeve including spawning waves of fiery balls to send at you. It’s a challenging fight, and leaves me curious as to how hard other “aspects” will be to fight.

Overall, I really feel like Metal: Hellsinger is going to be a game to keep on your radar. From the demo alone, I can already see how this game will be able to win over a lot of people with the way it presents itself.

Fans of DOOM will undoubtedly love the opportunity to blast demons to a bangin’ metal soundtrack, and fans of rhythm games will enjoy the unique incorporation of shooting in time with the beat. And if you’re simply looking for something new to play in general, Metal: Hellsinger excels in serving up one hell of a good time (pun intended) with a headbangingly good soundtrack capable of making a metal fan out of just about anyone.


These impressions are based on a demo provided by the publisher. Metal: Hellsinger is currently set to release sometime in 2022 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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