Ripping and tearing demons to the tune of metal is something Doom was always known for, but those two aspects aren’t linked together outside of tempo and tone. Metal: Hellsinger takes that Hell-based gunplay and puts it to a beat, requiring a trigger finger that’s as rhythmic as it is itchy. And while a lesser game might use that as a cheap gimmick to mask its mediocrity, Metal: Hellsinger is a thoughtfully constructed shooter that turns every firefight into a live performance of carnage and fantastic tunes.
Metal: Hellsinger, at its core, still has solid first-person shooting and slick, responsive controls. Its arsenal has six different weapons with their own unique ultimate abilities and, while trimmed down and sadly limited to four per mission, there’s not a weak one in the bunch. Double jumping and dashing give the protagonist, a silent yet fearsome demon ironically known as The Unknown, a decent sense of mobility. And even though there are no ammo or armor pickups to worry about, there’s an execution mechanic that, like Doom‘s Glory Kills, adds more nuance since carefully murdering yields more health. Aside from the forgettably generic enemy designs with occasionally odd attacks, it’s all done rather well, even if it isn’t particularly new.
This solid base means that its musical elements are supported well and able to reach their potential. Almost everything from dashing, reloading, shooting, and executing enemies has to be performed on the beat. Poorly timed actions are either slower or less effective, meaning timing is crucial to make any sort of headway.
Performing actions to a rhythm initially takes some getting used to, even with its excellent audio and video calibration settings and helpful metronome near the crosshairs. It can be difficult to break out of the norm set by other shooters since the brain training needed to not dodge or reload reflexively takes time to undo. However, these systems are wonderfully designed to get players to see the game at its best and intrinsically and extrinsically reward those who play it well.
Score multipliers, damage boosts, and perks that unlock as the hit streak climbs mean that those who slay on the beat are rewarded with added efficiency. Acting on every beat perfectly can wipe a room in record time as the mechanical benefits of consistent timing snowball and lead to the player being an incredibly efficient killing machine.
Achieving this power fantasy is extraordinarily fulfilling not only because of the work needed to get there and the constant attention staying on beat requires, but also because of how it looks, feels, and moves when it’s all going to plan. Punchier sound effects, reactive songs that get more epic and complex as the multiplier increases, and quickly moving from enemy to enemy in tune with the music highlight its strongest and most unique qualities and every system is working to make that happen. Some of the best games excel when they’re played rhythmically, but Metal: Hellsinger has that organically built into its mechanics. And since the music is always thumping, it’s engaging at every single step and never eases up.
The game focuses hard on its core mechanics and has almost no fat on its demonic bones. Its snappy, nine-mission campaign is worth replaying because of the originality of its satisfying approach to the genre, but its harder difficulty isn’t too much more of a challenge and doesn’t change or add much to the experience. There are challenge rooms that unlock perks and these are bite-sized arenas that intuitively test players on one specific mechanic, yet those are even less replayable since they don’t even have leaderboards scores to chase. More modes and replayability would benefit the experience since its core gameplay stays fresh long after its credits roll, which is not something many titles can attest to.
Metal: Hellsinger’s leanness isn’t wholly damning since it is an impeccably paced shooter that cuts everything down to its essentials and hones in on its musical gunplay, which is what matters. Blasting hellspawn into oblivion to the tune of some fantastic metal songs is always thoroughly engrossing and only gets more gratifying as it gets played more competently. It doesn’t stick around for long, but it does make one hell of an impression.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8.5 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.