Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: PS5, PC
Developer: The Outsiders
While Metal: Hellsinger might not be the world’s first FPS/rhythm hybrid, it certainly feels like one of the best I’ve played so far. Developed by The Outsiders, Metal: Hellsinger puts you in control of demon songstress The Unknown, attempting to regain the voice that the minions of Hell stole from her. In order to do so, you’ll visit various stages and slaughter copious amounts of demons all to the beat of Metal: Hellsinger’s heavy metal soundtrack, which features original tunes paired with notable metal vocalists like Serj Tankian from System of a Down and Randy Blythe from Lamb of God.
If you’ve not played a first-person shooter/rhythm game yet, then it’ll likely take a bit of time to get your footing in the world of Metal: Hellsinger, but the game does a solid job of easing you into the mechanics. As you progress through the first handful of stages, you’ll gain access to new weapons, like an explosive crossbow, a satisfying-to-shoot shotgun, twin pistols, and more. You’ll also be introduced to the on-screen beat display, which constantly scrolls inwards towards your reticule to help you line up your shots with the rhythm of the soundtrack. You will slowly find yourself relying on the sound of the music more so than the onscreen indicator, but it’s a helpful, non-obtrusive tool that gets you used to the main mechanic in Metal: Hellsinger quickly.
It helps to get the basics of Metal: Hellsinger down early too, because as you progress through the last half of the campaign you’ll find the difficulty amps up considerably, with tougher and tougher foes being introduced in pretty large numbers, giving off serious modern Doom vibes in a good way. You’re also given a fair amount of mobility with The Unknown’s dash mechanic, which can also be timed with the beat to help keep your hit count and score multiplier alive, along with giving you the ability to slightly damage enemies that you dash into. Overall, you’ll find both the movement and shooting in Metal: Hellsinger feels fantastic, so even if it was stripped of the rhythm mechanic entirely it’d still be a pretty satisfying shooter experience.
Obviously, your love or dislike for the musical theme will likely also impact your enjoyment of the game, which is something to consider if you’re planning on checking it out. While I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest metalhead, and certainly didn’t know who all of the guest vocal stars were, I still really enjoyed the music and thought it paired up with the gameplay and overall look of Metal: Hellsinger quite well.
As far as faults go, I found very few during my time with the campaign. One issue that was recurring for me was when the shooting arena within a stage was large enough, I would occasionally lose track of where enemies were. Some enemies, most notably the slender, basic demons, kind of blend into the environment in a way that can make them tough to see from a distance. A bit more visual pop would help in my opinion, but it’s not a serious issue overall.
I also would have liked to see a little more variety in the bosses. Most of the boss designs share a very specific look that is borderline identical to one another but with different attack styles. These fights tend to boil down to a repetitive process, which involves shooting at the boss’s static location until it dematerializes and then reappears at a different point. Once it takes enough damage it will remove itself from the field entirely while a wave of standard enemies come in, and once you clear that wave the boss will re-appear and the fight continues. This doesn’t really change a great deal from one boss encounter to the next and does feel a bit bland by the time you reach the tail end of the game.
Still, I really found myself engrossed with Metal: Hellsinger, and the solid FPS gunplay paired with a challenging rhythm mechanic keeps you pretty engaged throughout. It’s a neat concept that certainly hasn’t worn out its welcome so far, and I’d certainly like to see it expanded upon in the future, so hopefully a sequel or DLC won’t be out of the question. Definitely check it out Metal: Hellsinger if any of this sounds intriguing, you won’t be disappointed.
Note: Funcom provided us with a Metal: Hellsinger Xbox Series X code for review purposes.