Metal Hellsinger – The Review by BrendawnoftheDead
“Where Angels Cry & Demons Die”
I’ve always hated dancing at weddings. No offense intended to anyone who’s wedding I have attended, it’s not you it’s me. Your ceremony was lovely, and I feel honored that you like me enough to have me in attendance. With that out of the way, I couldn’t identify the overwhelming majority of the music at the reception if you pointed a demonic revolver at my head. I don’t know the beat, I certainly don’t know the chorus, and I regret NOTHING. Apart from possessing dancing skills equivalent to that of an intoxicated rhinoceros, I despise 90% of music that people like dancing to. I spent most of my formative years avoiding popular music like the plague and listening to various forms of hard rock and heavy metal, so forgive me if the popular stuff from my generation feels slow and uninteresting. While I have expanded my musical horizons to a degree, I now appreciate country and select rap artists, I am still the same teenage edge-lord at heart.
Now that you understand my taste in music, it’s easy to see why Metal Hellsinger piqued my interest. What would happen if you combined the demonic themed first person combat of Doom with the rhythm-based scoring system of Guitar Hero combined with certified headbanging worthy metal? You get Metal Hellsinger, a mechanically solid first-person shooter that demands that you shoot, reload, dodge, and slaughter to the beat of heavy metal. Fascinating concept, but how in the Hellsinger (YYYYEEEAAAAHHHHH) do you make that work?
**Disclaimer** - I played Metal Hellsinger on Xbox Game Pass on GOAT (medium) difficulty. I chose to play on performance mode as I have a 120hz screen with VRR. I experienced a single bug in the duration of my play time, good work guys!
As far as I am aware, Metal Hellsinger is the second such game to attempt to fuse the first-person shooter and rhythm game genres, but it is by far the better offering (Bullets per Minute didn’t do it for me). This is because the combat is good enough to stand on its own prior to the rhythm integration. You have a sword, a fireball shooting skull, and can carry two of the following: dual pistols, a shotgun, explosive crossbow, or dual throwing axes. Each weapon has an alternate (and devastating) fire mode that can be activated after filling the weapon’s alt fire meter. The enemies have unique AI and behaviors, each requiring different strategies to take them down. Enemies have different attacks, all of which can be dodged, dashed through, or double jumped over. There is infinite ammo, but you do need to reload the pistols, shotguns, and explosive crossbow. Health is managed with green pickups that are found in the environment or taken from slaughtered enemies. This mechanic works a lot like the glory kill mechanic featured in modern Doom, weaken the enemies, and perform a brief slaughter animation to recover health.
What I just described sounds like Doom Eternal LITE, which is an accurate assessment. What gives Metal Hellsinger its own identity is how rhythm is integrated into the combat system. You are free to move and shoot as you please but doing so to the beat of the song will deal much more damage, grant you more points, build your streak, and increase your scoring multiplier. At the end of the level, your score is revealed along with your leaderboard ranking, giving Metal Hellsinger an arcade feeling and some replay value. The more you improve at timing your shots and dodging to the beat, the more efficient of a player you will become. When you increase your scoring meter level, you reveal more layers of the song. At level 1, you only hear the bass drum and a fraction of the guitar riff. As you level up, the bass guitar, full drum kit, and full guitar riff are unlocked. At maximum level, the vocals are revealed. The tracks everything you would want in a metal song, which makes you want to hear them in all their glory, further emphasizing high level play. When you become low on health, the bass drum is amplified, and the rest of the music is toned down. This is the game giving you an opportunity to recover, as it is easier to stay on the beat when it’s all that you can hear.
What I really like about Metal Hellsinger is the how it encourages expression of skill and creativity. It is perfectly possible to play this game using a single weapon and mostly ignoring the beat, and I suspect many will do just that…at the beginning. Different weapons cater to different play styles (no shit), but MHS does this differently than most games. The pistols have the highest rate of fire in the game, allowing the player to hit beats in quick succession or make up for a miss timed shot quickly. The shotgun fires slower but does more damage at close range. The crossbow has the highest damage and range but can only be fired twice before reloading and demands the most precision. The throwing axes have limited range and are less damaging than the shotgun while requiring better accuracy, but do not require any reload. The sword can be used quickly and does good damage, but you must be extremely close and personal to the demon you are trying to decapitate. The flame throwing skull does very little damage but will build your meter when used regardless of whether you hit anything or not. Low skill players will probably lean on the pistols and sword because they have the greatest margin of error and don’t require extreme precision. High skill players will gravitate towards the shotgun and crossbow, as they are likely proficient at timing the quick reload mechanic. They will also time dodges and reloads to the beat when not firing, break out the flame throwing skull in between enemies, abuse secondary fire, and hack in slash in perfect sync when necessary. Most of us will end up somewhere in between. I gravitated towards pistols and throwing axes as my aim is pretty good, but I did not consistently hit the quick reload and needed some margin of error when it came to hitting the beat. I constantly switched to the skull when enemies were at range or during traversal, and I abused the sword when it came to the shielded guys. I used the dash to evade incoming damage well, but rarely to the beat. On a second playthrough, I would try to use the crossbow more and integrate the sword more frequently.
I can’t review Metal Hellsinger without breaking down the metal! Metal Hellsinger has tracks featuring the likes of Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Matt Heafy (Trivium), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God), and Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) among others. All songs feature a beat that is easy enough to shoot, dodge, and reload to while the guitar riffs and vocals are distinct form one another. It is exactly the kind of music I want to hear to get my blood flowing. If you are a fan of metal, you will love this. I will be buying the soundtrack to this game and immediately adding to my gym playlist.
So what didn’t I like about Metal Hellsinger? The environments, while accurately portraying the heavy metal interpretation of Hell, aren’t very distinct. The arenas are similar in design, which is perfectly functional but not exactly memorable. There isn’t too much enemy variety either, which doesn’t help to distinguish one fight or level from another. It also doesn’t help that you fight the same boss in every level, just with different gimmicks. This would make for a rather forgettable and generic experience if the moment-to-moment gameplay and music weren’t excellent. My only other real gripe is the length. Metal Hellsinger can be 100% completed in around 8-10 hours and yes that includes the side mission content. You can probably beat the single player campaign in one sitting. Metal Hellsinger is banking on the arcade scoring system and leaderboard to keep its player base engaged. This will keep high level players and speed runners around, but I can’t say the same for the average player. At 30 dollars or included day 1 with your game pass subscription, this isn’t a deal breaker. I don’t put much emphasis on story, especially in a game centered around arcade scoring, and what we have here is fine. You are a demon who had her voice stolen and you fight through the legions of Hell to get it back. Not Shakespeare, but adequate for shooting demons to the beat.
Giving Metal Hellsinger a rating is a bit tricky. It isn’t a triple A title, so it doesn’t have the same production or budget of bigger games produced by massive studios, but what is offered is a focused experience at a reasonable asking price. The combat and music are fantastic, and this isn’t a game that you will forget playing, but I can’t promise that you will want to play it over and over again. I can see myself booting it up again, but I don’t see myself obsessing over the finer details and achieving technical mastery. As a certified gaming Dad with limited game time, I have come to appreciate games that make a strong impression from the get-go but don’t overstay their welcome, thus I won’t penalize MHS for this. I highly recommend it if you are into first-person shooters, heavy metal, and have a game pass subscription. I would probably recommend buying it at 30 dollars too, but only if heavy metal really appeals to you. I give this one an 8 for the gameplay and music. Roughly the same tier as Chorus and Shadow Warrior 3. When you get into the zone and are landing shots to the beat, you feel like an unstoppable demon slaughtering machine and will have an absolute blast, even if it’s for a short time.