Metal: Hellsinger Review

Metal: Hellsinger is a tight, blisteringly fast campaign of rebellion through the fiery depths of Hell. Blasting through levels armed with an assortment of demonic weaponry, players must time almost every action to the beat of pounding metal tunes. When the whole package clicks, it leads to some hugely fun and gratifying moments. The euphoric harmonization of action and music is truly special and something only a game like this can evoke.

Metal: Hellsinger and 2020’s Bullets Per Minute have often been compared, and rightfully so. The former is borrowing much from the latter. They’re both rhythm FPS’s leaning heavily into a Doom-like vibe and they both do a great job blending the two ideas. Though Metal: Hellsinger does a markedly better job nailing the aesthetics of the Doom franchise, especially the later entries.


But while Bullets Per Minute is a rhythm-based FPS rogue-like, focusing on runs and builds, Metal: Hellsinger’s mechanics forego such elements in favor of a more linear formula. This focus works in its favor, maintaining the constant action that propels players forward. Metal: Hellsinger is also a much more polished game and features some genuine star power behind its music. And though it lacks the build potential of Bullets Per Minute, players do decide on a loadout before diving into a level, built from unlockables they’ve earned.

As the demon referred to simply as The Unknown, players will attempt to tear through several layers of the underworld in the hopes of ultimately confronting the Red Judge, Hell’s ruler. Some time in the distant past, the Red Judge took away The Unknown’s voice and imprisoned her. With the help of a mysterious living skull named Paz, she’s now broken free and is intent on enacting bloody vengeance on any demon who gets in her way.

Players are confronted with 8 levels, each with a boss at the end. These levels are generally split into 3 combat areas that seal off until all enemies are defeated and are connected by short traversal areas. From the moment a level opens, pulsing music sets the beat and players are counted in. Like any of the best rhythm-based games, multiple factors depend on how closely actions are taken to that beat. Shooting, dashing, reloading, and Slaughters (like a glory kill to weakened enemies) all perform better when executed along with the rhythm. The more actions taken to the beat, the more powerful The Unknown becomes and the higher the total score will be at the end.

Taking actions in rhythm also builds a Fury meter. Starting at 1X and reaching 16X, a higher Fury meter allows the player to do more damage and attain a better score. Further, consecutive actions performed to the beat will be counted towards a hit streak. Reach certain numbers in a hit streak and hit streak boons will be activated, like more powerful dashes, for example. If The Unknown gets hit or performs an action off the beat, the Fury meter drops and the hit streak is broken.

But perhaps the most rewarding outcome of good play has to do with Metal: Hellsinger’s incredible soundtrack. Each track is layered and when players hit the next level of Fury, a new layer is added. This way, the full composition is only heard when that Fury gauge is pulsing away at 16X. This, more than any other boost, will likely be reason enough for many players to want to keep that meter high. And when a full track is playing, the adrenaline and immersion is heightened, making it just a little easier to play in rhythm and increasing a player’s likelihood to maintain Fury.

However, players needn’t worry about missing out on the full track if rhythm games aren’t their thing. Once a level is completed it unlocks 3 Torments. Torments are challenge arenas, the completion of which will grant a sigil that can be equipped as part of the loadout at the start of a proper level. In these torments, the fury gauge is locked and the full song from the previous level will play. Plus, every song can be heard in the Extras section of the Codex.

It’s not a huge list, but Metal: Hellsinger features a handful of great rhythm-based weapons. Depending on which is equipped, attacking and reloading will be performed differently. For example, the pistols fire on every beat, the shotgun on every second beat, and the two require reloading at different times. If that reload is performed to the music, it saves valuable time, and mastering it is hugely helpful in the heat of battle. Each weapon also has a unique ultimate attack – powered up by firing on the beat and performing kills – with significant differences. The differing weapon mechanics allow for a variety of playstyles and go a long way to keeping things fresh. Though most are nicely balanced, there is at least one weapon that feels notably less viable. And when there are only 6 weapons total and the others feel so good, it stands out.

Like any of the best musical games, Metal: Hellsinger is a game best played with headphones, both for concentration and to completely lose oneself in the powerfully grim soundtrack that is perpetually injecting adrenaline into the bloodstream. Each level features an original track by Two Feathers and enlists at least one vocal talent from the metal scene. Matt Heafy from Trivium, Tatiana Shmayluk from Jinjer, and Serj Tankian from System of a Down are a few of the artists that collaborated on the music. Players need not have any knowledge or love of metal to enjoy it here; it’s married so well to the tone of the game and it plays so well in the moment-to-moment action that it’s easy to come out on the other end with a new appreciation. Tankian’s iconic vocals propelling the Unknown through one of the most climactic moments of her journey is an absolutely thrilling experience.

Depending on a player’s proficiency with rhythm-based games and FPS, Metal: Hellsinger isn’t a terribly long game. Some length is added if all the torments are completed, but those aren’t strictly necessary for completion – just helpful. The longevity of the game comes from its leaderboards, and the challenge of taking on a level again on higher difficulties. But if hunting for that high score and climbing the ranks of a leaderboard isn’t appealing, Metal: Hellsinger can be a fairly brief experience.

While it succeeds in many ways, Metal: Hellsinger has both pros and cons and it falls short in a few aspects. Its enemy and boss design leave something to be desired. With only a handful of enemies – and some of those being re-skins – players will be fighting basically the same waves repeatedly. New enemy types are introduced, but ultimately it doesn’t amount to much variety.

The bosses are all different takes on a similar idea: bullet-hell FPS. Their visual designs are nearly identical, narratively explained by each being an aspect of the Red Judge. They all function and move very similarly, albeit with different arenas and some varying abilities. The bosses were by no means dull; in fact, they were often the most challenging, fun, and satisfying part of a level. But when a player faces another carbon cut-out of every previous boss that disappears, flies around, and shoots fireballs like all the others, the encounters become somewhat anticlimactic.

The more focus a player can give to Metal: Hellsinger, the more it shines. When it all clicks, a flow builds that can only be achieved by this style of rhythmic combat. It takes some powerful music and grafts it onto the iconic Doom formula. The result is that the player feels like they are in the middle of a perfectly choreographed movie or trailer. It’s certainly challenging, especially on higher difficulties, but if players can think of it as less a shooter and more a rhythm game, it really opens up. Lack of enemy variety and short gameplay aside, what’s on offer here is a hugely fun rip through Hell that feels great to play and sounds like something torn straight out of a nightmare – in a good way.

Metal: Hellsinger is available now for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.

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