Reviewed on PC>Also on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S>Publisher Funcom>Developer The Outsiders>ReleaseSeptember 15, 2022Rating Teen>
Metal: Hellsinger is clear about what it is right from the beginning: A love letter to first-person shooters, particularly Doom, and a tribute and celebration of metal music and its culture. It is a simple shooter with no frills that asks the question, "What if you had a chance to beat a metal album by greats?" Although it's not perfect, the bosses can be uninspired at times and combat design could use some variation - my 11-hour-long playthrough was a great experience. The game's strengths outweigh its shortcomings, and The Outsiders has created what I hope will be a new FPS franchise set in Hell.
The game's name is literally Metal. Music is a constant part of your game experience. Metal: Hellsinger will appeal to fans of Lamb of God, Trivium, and other similar bands. I fought off a huge skeletal boss to the beat of a nearly operatic song accompanied by the iconic vocals of System of a Down's Serj tankian. I ripped through hordes foes and demons to the beat of Alissa Whitegluz, Arch Enemy's death-metal music. The precise and punchy shooting mechanics made it as thrilling as possible.
To attack hundreds demons, you can choose from six weapons. The game will reward you with extra damage if each bullet is fired in perfect alignment with the on-screen metronome. Your damage output and score modifier will increase with streaks. The unique thing about the streak counter is that each level adds a layer to the music track. You might hear the bass rumbling or a subtle whine from the guitar at 2x. This is a sign that you are ready for what's next. The drums might start to kick in at 4x. At 8x, the song starts to roar. The vocals are still missing at 16x.
The streak multiplier pickups scattered throughout the stage made it easier to climb from 2x-16x. It was just as thrilling as when I started it. It's like producing a song. But you have weapons that can rip Hell to pieces.
The Unknown is the playable character in Metal: Hellsinger. He has been banished to Hell's deepest regions, where only ice-demons and ice remain. The Unknown moves from the most icy to the most fieriest with a talking skull voiced Troy Baker. He uses a southern drawl to match the game's Western-like tone. All this to kill The Judge, an evil ruler who has lost her grip on Hell. Jennifer Hale is a great voiceover.
The campaign is the only thing that matters, but it's okay. What's there is exceptional. There are nine levels, 21 Torments and time trials to test your resolve. These will require you to kill enemies in a specific way with certain weapons and methods. You can also access the in-game codex to find additional Hell-related information. Metal: Hellsinger is a short and sweet story that ends just as it arrives at the end of its story.
There are a few minor issues with the game. For example, its Torment time trials feel unfair and cheap, or they are brilliantly designed in an almost-puzzle-like manner. The boss and combat design could also be improved, but these criticisms are not worth mentioning. Metal: Hellsinger was a great game.
While I won't likely remember all my frustrations with the game in a few months, I will recall "Dissolution", a Two Feathers track featuring cathartic vocals by Bjorn Speed Strid of Soilwork. It is about the realm of Hell known under the name Nihil and how my shotgun destroyed waves of enemies. Metal: Hellsinger is over, but I am glad there's more. I want more from this series.