Releasing back in mid-September of 2022, Metal: Hellsinger reviewed incredibly well from the very start. Garnering a 7/10 on IGN, a 79 on Metacritic, and currently sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam, it’s clear to see that people love this game. To me, it’s obvious why. I mean, a Doom-style rhythm game set to metal music made by a whole cast of huge names in the genre, coupled with great narration by Troy Baker, what’s not to love? The game follows the player character known as The Unknown as she attempts to regain the voice that The Red Judge stole from her. In order to do this, she must make her way through the nine hells, or the nine levels of the game (including the tutorial) with each hell finishing with a battle against one of the bosses known as the aspects of the Judge.
While the story plays out in a way that is not dissimilar to the modern Doom games, what really sets Metal: Hellsinger apart in terms of storytelling is the cutscenes and voice acting. Using singular painted frames with limited movements, the cutscenes that tell the story of The Unknown and her companion Paz (as well as the backstory to the game’s world and supporting characters) feel almost like a living painting. The game weaves a tapestry of lore that while not overwhelmingly deep, feels satisfying to slowly learn more about. While the cutscenes show fragments of the narrative, Troy Baker’s character Paz describes the whole thing, laying it all out as he slowly regains his memory. Troy Baker is fantastic in Metal: Hellsinger, his slightly cheesy southern accent working perfectly for the feel and aesthetic of the game.
Now, on to what truly drew me into the game. The gameplay. Metal: Hellsinger is, as previously mentioned, a Doom-esque rhythm game, giving the player bonus damage on their attacks should they match the timing to the beat. The more you match the beat, the higher your multiplier, the more points you get and the more instruments join into the music you’re playing along to. While not a revolutionary form of gameplay, what sets Metal: Hellsinger apart from other rhythm games is the way that it matches up the satisfying feeling of clicking to the beat, with the gunplay of Doom, which is something I didn’t know I needed until I played it.
Metal: Hellsinger has some of the best music from any game I’ve played for listening to inside and out of the game itself
I was hooked from the tutorial. As a big fan of the recent entries in the Doom franchise, as well as an avid listener of metal music, this game provided the perfect combination of demon slaying and headbanging. My main gripe with the game is its length – my first full playthrough taking around 6 hours, with a hefty number of deaths tossed in there. The game is a short but oh-so-sweet package, cramming a huge amount of chaotic fun into its short playtime with global leaderboards being visible for every level, taunting you into replaying each one to get a higher score.
So, with glowing reviews (my own included), why do I feel that this game was so snubbed last year? A major factor is its loss of ‘Best Score and Music’ to God of War: Ragnarok at The Game Awards last year. Metal: Hellsinger has some of the best music from any game I’ve played for listening to inside and out of the game itself. While my bias towards metal music may be clouding my judgement here, I still feel that a game with such an emphasis on its music, linking it to the core gameplay of the game itself and weaving it into the characters and the sets – with names such as Serj Tankian (known as the lead vocalist of System of a Down) –should have received more recognition for its soundtrack. I also feel like the short runtime of the game’s story has contributed to its fade from the spotlight, as well as a few middling reviews from reputable sources.
Despite these facts, I cannot recommend this game enough. It is truly a joy to play and if you enjoyed Doom or Doom Eternal, I can promise you that you’ll have a blast fighting your way through the layers of hell with some awesome tunes to accompany the carnage.