A fast-paced FPS for Doom-loving metalheads
Wielding a hellish shotgun known as Persephone, I blast my way through wave after wave of demons in Metal: Hellsinger.
The constant pulsing of the melodic guitar riff with the accompanying throaty vocals serves as the driving force that keeps me going, the tempo that keeps my combo intact. Then, an untimely demon kick knocks me off a ledge. Rather than diving to my death, I spread my wings and return to the platform before decimating the creature that stands in the way. One hit, then another, then one more, all in sync with the beat of the song.
It helps that I’m also a demon.
Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm-based first-person shooter with an emphasis on metal music. The instant gameplay feels a lot like a fast-paced FPS, Doom being an obvious comparison, but you deal more damage with a combo multiplier if you shoot enemies in time to the song. This adds an extra layer of depth that requires precise timing, amplifying the meaning of the song being played.
Ahead of its release later in 2022, developer The Outsiders invited Reverse to try a preview version of Metal: Hellsingeralong with the tutorial and the first level of the game. While this is just a taste of what the full version will offer, it touches on the unique mechanics while highlighting a badass performance from Two Feathers , featuring Alissa White-Gluz of Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy.
walk with me to hell
Metal: Hellsinger throws you straight into the depths: a beautiful, if frightening, section of hell known as Stygia. The song playing during this section is absurd, with a catchy symphonic guitar riff that balances well with White-Gluz’s vocals. She looks like a demon, which suits this context.
The FPS mechanics work as you’d expect, but either side of the crosshairs are pulsating icons that match the beat of the song. If you shoot when these icons line up with the reticle, you will deal more damage and gain a bonus multiplier. Do it again and your multiplier will increase, adding to your score. This points system allows you to evaluate your performance at a specific level while encouraging you to replay to improve. Even with only having access to a short level, I found myself constantly replaying it to beat my previous score, which made it hard to put down.
There will be a variety of weapons in the final version, but the demo offered access to the Persephone shotgun, The Hounds dual revolvers, a sword, and the Paz, which is a skull that shoots fireballs. While The Hounds were super effective in many situations, I found myself gravitating towards the Persephone, especially since the well-timed shot placement made it amazing next to the music. The crackle of each explosion connecting to a demon makes the shotgun feel like an instrument unto itself.
Metal: Hellsinger takes the familiar FPS gameplay we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few years, but ultimately flips it on its head thanks to rhythm mechanics. A player can no longer rely on scoreless shots to skip a stage. It’s a made-in-hell match that really works.
Into the mouth of hell we walk
Rather than spamming the fire button, you should drift into a state of zen flow, only firing when it makes sense, musically. Not only are you encouraged to film along with the music to make sure the song sounds good, but you also deal a lot more damage when lined up with the track. The enemies in the demo are challenging enough that you need to be as precise as possible with the timing of each shot. Otherwise, the shootouts would easily become overwhelming.
Every time I landed on a demon to the beat of the music, things clicked, culminating in an intensely satisfying little moment that made me want to start over. And even. And even.
Then, when the final stage boss was thrown at me, I felt prepared. This particular segment was the hardest of them all: not only did I have to fire timed shots to the music, but I had to jump and dodge rows of fireballs like a bullet shooter. This test of skill was the perfect send-off to a powerful experience, resembling the explosive marriage of powerful game mechanics and equally effective music.
In many ways, Metal: Hellsinger is a metalhead’s dream, not only because of the imagery and subject matter, but also the way it showcases famous musicians from bands that many fans have listened to for 20 years or more.
They are singers such as Serj Tankian from System of a Down, Matt Heafy from Trivium, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, the aforementioned Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy and one of my all-time favorites, Tatiana Shmailyuk from Jinjer.
It’s unclear if more musicians will be added later, but as it stands, it’s a full roster of fan favorites, lending their voices to some absolutely shredded original songs. Based on this one demo, Metal: Hellsinger could very well be one of the most original games of 2022. Sure, it targets a niche audience, but the gameplay is solid enough that even non-metal fans should find something to enjoy, while metalheads will feel right at home with this game, thanks to the love and care that goes into it.
Metal: Hellsinger is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC later in 2022.