Review: Metal: Hellsinger – A Metalhead’s Paradise

Review: Metal: Hellsinger

Ever since we played Doom and its fast-paced demonic slaughter coupled with metal music, it was a match made in heaven…or hell. You decided. Taking this concept literally, Funcom and the Swedish developer The Outsiders have released their latest demonic first-person shooter Metal: Hellsinger which comes with actual metal songs by some of the most iconic voices in the metals scene and makes you shoot the spawn of Satan while matching your shots with the beat. For this review, we played the PC Steam release of Metal: Hellsinger in which we banged our head more than we shot demons back to oblivion.

Starting with the basics, Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm-shooter where you must shoot at the beat to keep your Fury up and deal extra damage to your enemies. The game follows the story of a soul called The Unknown who lost her voice to the master of hell called the Red Judge and now she is on the path of vengeance as she wants to get her voice back. Her path to vengeance makes her explore different Hells in search of the Red Judge so that she can take her down and get her voice back.  The game’s story is narrated through various cutscenes in which a talking skull called Paz does most of the talking in the game. The Unknown does not have her own voice so you will be in the hands of Paz the Skull when it comes to the story narration and any background lore.

Review: Metal: Hellsinger

Metal: Hellsinger is of course played as a first-person shooter however unlike Doom, Metal: Hellsinger does not encourage fast gameplay and rather wants you to shoot to the rhythm. Every metal track in the game has its own rhythm and beat so it is important for you to understand and get in the groove of each track to make those perfect shots and deal increased damage in the game. Shooting blanks or missing the beats deal only a mediocre amount of damage to the enemies and thus you will take a long time even defeating the normal, smaller enemies let alone some of the bigger demons in the game which can make your life a living hell really quickly with their powerful attacks. To boost your damage, Metal: Hellsinger has a Fury system in place which increases in multiplier the more you land your shots to the beat.

This high Fury is also incentivized by the fact that the higher the Fury level, the more elements in a Metal song are played. For example, at Fury level 8, the music is played to its full but if you want to hear the Lyrics as well, you must increase your Fury level to 16 which is the highest level of Fury you can reach. At this point, you deal the most damage to your enemies and also you get the most score for killing the enemies as well. Naturally, keeping your Fury on its highest levels will also require precision and strategy. Metal: Hellsinger is not a pointless shooter where you just unload your shots on the enemies in a second, but you need to take it slow, understand the beat, time your shots to the beat and then rake in the score. An on-screen beat matching system shows you the exact spot when you can shoot to match it with the beat.

For making it easier for you to match your shots with the beat, before starting the game, you can set the latency for both audio and video which ensures that you are clicking at the exact time you see the on-screen beat marker and listen to the beat. This is good for players who have framerate issues on their PCs or just want a little more time to react to the beat. The game runs the tutorial initially and allows you to custom set both of these latency levels yourself as well if you want to fine-tune them. Once you have your desired settings, you will be matching your shots to them without any problem. It looks a little hard at the beginning, but the gameplay is actually really simple and once you are in the flow, you do not even need to think about it. It just automatically starts happening as you find your own shot zones and start utilizing them to time your shots. To make it easier for you to keep your Fury at high levels, Paz the Skull can be shot at any time to match the beat and keep your Fury at the higher levels even with no enemies around. You can also match the dash and reloading of your weapons to the weapons to get some bonus Fury and also perform the tasks much more quickly than normal.

The story of Metal: Hellsinger spans over eight levels or what the game calls Hells. Each Hell is unique in terms of its environment, design, and soundtrack. Each Hell is designated one Metal track that is played throughout the level as you blast to its beat and when you reach the final boss of the level, a second boss metal track starts to play leveling up the challenge and the adrenaline. The levels are not too big and there are only eight levels in the game however each level can be played in three difficulty levels, and it comes with a high score system that encourages you to play each level more than once if you want to get new highscores and also try out different loadouts. After you complete a level after defeating its boss for the first time, you not only unlock the next Hell but also different challenges for each Hell which are called Torments.

These Torments are various challenges based around the Archdevils of the game in which you must complete various challenges with specific rules in order to unlock special passive bonuses called Sigil that can be equipped before starting a level in order to make you more effective in different ways. These challenges range from tasks such as defeating a particular number of enemies with a specific weapon type within a small time frame, defeating a certain number of enemies without any heals, and so on. The sigils can be equipped in the loadout menu, and they grant you different bonuses such as decreasing the time it takes to kick in your Ultimate abilities. Each weapon in the game comes with its own Ultimate ability as well which must be charged by killing enemies with rhythmic shots.

Like I mentioned before, Metal: Hellsinger ditches the fast-paced action shooting we typically expect from demonic shooters for a more strategic, rhythm-based shooting style. However, the levels in the game are fairly similar to other demonic shooters where you must travel through tight corridors and do a little bit of platforming to reach larger, open-area arenas where the demons start to spawn, and you must kill all of them in order to move to the next area of the map. As you shoot and plow through demons, you can also land special kill attacks on the enemies if their health drops too low. Such enemies start glowing red and if you press the E key while matching it with a beat, you will lunge forward, instantly killing the enemy and dropping health pickups for yourself. While fighting these enemies, you can also discover various combos which when landed on enemies, will grant you with bonus score and Fury.

Death in Metal: Hellsinger is treated in a different way than in most shooters these days. If you die in the game, you will need to exchange your score for a chance to try again from the very same spot on the level. There are no checkpoints or save spots in the game. Once you start a level, you must complete it all the way to the end and if you quit in the middle, the game does not save anything apart from any codex entries that you might have discovered during that playthrough. It is important because the game records your high score, so it wants you to complete a level in its entirety before going back to the main menu. Depending on your chosen difficulty setting, you only get a limited number of resurrections as well so if you decided to play on the highest level of difficulty in the game called Beast, you die permanently and must start the level again from the beginning. Keep in mind that if you are looking for a high score, even on the easiest difficulty, you cannot afford to die because each resurrection will take a huge chunk of your score as a sacrifice in order to bring you back to the game.

Now, coming to the main attraction of Metal: Hellsinger is its soundtrack. If you like metal music, you will be hooked to the soundtrack right from the main menu because the main theme of the game is enough to get your head moving. This soundtrack covers the entire main menu of the game, and the main tracks are reserved for the in-game levels and boss battles of the game. It is worth pointing out that the entire music is written and composed by the composer duo Two Feathers who are well-known for their work on in-game soundtracks. Leading the vocals on these soundtracks are some of the biggest names from the metal music scene from some of the best bands we know.

Review: Metal: Hellsinger

Some of these names include Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy, James Dorton from Black Crown Initiate, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, and Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Each and every soundtrack in the game is exclusive for Metal: Hellsinger and the best bit is that all of the music is also royalty-free so there is no penalty on streaming them while playing the game which is huge. Each metal track brings its own set of beats and rhythm and demands its own playstyle since the beat is different forcing you to change your shooting style for each level. The difference is not too big, and you can easily adjust to the new tracks since the on-screen beat representator adjusts quickly and without you noticing it increasing or decreasing the shot delays for each track.

Visually, Metal: Hellsinger looks really good as well. The visuals perfectly represent what hell should look like and the enemy design is pretty decent as well. The boss design could have been better, but it sort of fits in with the game and it did not bother me much, but I still wish that bosses could have been designed better than this. The levels are pretty good to look at however there is not much variety when it comes to different areas of the same level. Metal: Hellsinger will not win any awards when it comes to visuals, but the sound design is top-notch, and this is the primary aim of the title. It just happens to look decent at the same time with the added frosting of its soundtrack at the top.

Metal: Hellsinger certainly breathes fresh air into the rhythm-based genre as it incorporates this mechanic perfectly into a first-person shooter. I was rather skeptical when I was first introduced to this game by Funcom and when I previewed it, I liked the game however for this review, I can say that Funcom and The Outsiders have done an amazing job polishing and optimizing the game to make it an absolute blast to play. If you are missing Doom, Metal: Hellsinger is here to save your soul with its amazing metal soundtrack and equally good gameplay. Just don’t pay too much attention to the story and the visuals might not impress you too much as well. Still, it is one of the best games to come out in 2022.

Final Verdict:

Metal: Hellsinger is a metalhead’s paradise. As ironic as it sounds, it really is. From its stellar soundtrack to its brutal gameplay, Metal: Hellsinger ticks every checkbox of an amazing first-person shooter. This is one of the few games that make you want to bang your head and the music actually allows you to focus and keeps your adrenaline high enough to plow through whatever comes your way. If you were looking for a first-person shooter along the lines of Doom with an added twist, Metal: Hellsinger should be on your must-play list. It will keep you entertained for a long time with its amazing soundtrack and solid rhythm-based gameplay. Highly recommended.

Final Score: 9.5/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Kingdom Rush 5: Alliance.

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