Tearing and ripping demons to the tune of metal is something Doom has always been known for, but the two aspects do not connect outside of tempo and tone. metal: Hellsinger takes the hell-based gunplay and sets it to a beat that demands a trigger finger that’s as rhythmic as it is itchy. And while a lesser game might use it as a cheap gimmick to mask its mediocrity, Metal: Hellsinger is a thoughtfully constructed shooter that turns any firefight into a live performance of carnage and awesome tunes.
Metal: Hellsinger, at its core, still has solid first-person shooting and smart, responsive controls. Its arsenal features six different weapons with their own unique ultimate abilities, and while it’s trimmed down and sadly limited to four per mission, there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. Double jumping and overtaking gives the main character, a silent but fearsome demon ironically known as The Unknown, a decent sense of mobility. And while there’s no ammo or armor pickups to worry about, there is an execution mechanic that e.g. Doom‘s Glory Kills, adds more nuance as careful assassination gives more health. Aside from the forgettably generic enemy designs with the occasional weird attack, it’s all done pretty well, even if it’s not particularly new.
This solid base means that its musical elements are well supported and able to reach their potential. Almost everything from charging, reloading, shooting and executing enemies must be done on the beat. Badly timed actions are either slower or less effective, meaning that timing is essential to making any kind of progress.
Performing actions to a beat takes some getting used to at first, even with its excellent audio and video calibration settings and helpful metronome near the reticle. It can be difficult to break out of the norm set by other shooters, as the brain training necessary to not dodge or reload reflexively takes time to undo. However, these systems are wonderfully designed to make players see the game at its best and intrinsically and extrinsically reward those who play it well.
Score multipliers, damage boosts and perks unlocked as hit streaks increase mean those who beat the beat are rewarded with increased effectiveness. Acting perfectly on every beat can obliterate 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 satisfying, not only because of the work required to get there and the constant vigilance required to stay on beat, but also because of how it looks, feels and moves when it all has to be planned. Punchier sound effects, reactive chants that become more epic and complex as the multiplier increases, and quickly moving from enemy to enemy in time with the music highlight its strongest and most unique qualities, and every system works to make it happen . Some of the best games excel when played rhythmically, but Metal: Hellsinger has it organically built into its mechanics. And since the music is always pounding, it’s engaging with every step and never drops off.
The game focuses heavily on its core mechanics and has almost no fat on its demonic bones. Its slick nine-mission campaign is worth replaying for the originality of its satisfying approach to the genre, but its harder difficulty isn’t much of a challenge and doesn’t change or add much to the experience. There are challenge rooms that unlock perks, and these are large arenas that intuitively test players on a specific mechanic, but they’re even less replayable since they don’t even have leaderboards to chase. More modes and replayability would benefit the experience as its core gameplay remains fresh long after its credits, something not many titles can attest to.
Metal: Hellsinger‘s slimness isn’t entirely damning, as it’s an impeccably paced shooter that pares everything down to its essentials and hones its musical gunplay, which is what matters. Blasting hell into oblivion to the tune of some great metal songs is always thoroughly engrossing and only gets more satisfying as it’s played more competently. It doesn’t last long, but it makes a hell of an impression.
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 8.5 corresponds to “Fantastic”. Although there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds in its goal and leaves a memorable impact.