The concept behind Metal: Helsinger is quite simple: marry DOOM’s classic shooter gunplay with rhythm games. And developer The Outsiders totally nailed this element of their game: gunplay. fantastic, Shooting, dodging, cycling weapons, it all feels great. You can do almost everything in the game according to the rhythm of the song in each level, and you get bonus points, as well as bonus damage, for keeping up with the timbre of the music.
All the music has a distinct drum beat that is easy to track in the heat of battle, and each level features guest vocals from some very famous bands, such as Trivium and System of a Down. As your combo meter goes up, songs begin with basic drum beats, which include layers of vocals, guitar, and so on. It’s a really nice touch, and the implementation is seamless. The music is the real star, as the threadbare narrative is bundled into the bland cutscenes that bookend each level.
The cracks start to appear when you look beyond the core gameplay. The title doesn’t spoil anything, but everything comes across as bare. The environments of all eight levels are blurred together and have the same color grading with the same level design. Each level equates to a series of arenas connected through hallways that end in a boss, and they do little in the way of encouraging creative or different combat approaches. You can only successfully beat the game with a shotgun if you so choose.
The encounter design practically stops evolving after the second level, only occasionally introducing variations of enemies after that. Many enemies just don’t have much fun fighting, which is another big problem. As fun as it can be to use guns – every weapon is satisfying, and a blast to play with – everything gets stale quickly. Completing torments—mini-dungeons that unlock and upgrade perks—add some variety to the case, but these are brief distractions at best. You can even do 100 percent of the game in about 6-7 hours, making the $39.99 price tag a surprisingly steep one.
After all, you have a game with an exquisitely designed core element – rhythm gunplay – surrounded by many elements that, while not terrible, are the best.