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Preview – Metal: Hellsinger [Demo] PC

It’s no surprise I’ve been hyped for Metal: Hellsinger since it was first announced back in June 2020. I mean, I absolutely love both Doom (2016) (as well as its incredible follow-up, Doom Eternal) and music from the melodic thrash metal band, Trivium. This game has both (sort-of) and more. Not only is it a fast-paced movement-focused FPS set in hell, with all sorts of weapons to take for a spin, and a wide-variety of hellspawn to blast away, but it also incorporates rhythm game mechanics alongside an original heavy metal soundtrack featuring talent you wouldn’t believe. Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy, whose voice shook me to my core when I caught them during The Black Crusade tour. The very new inclusion of Serj Tankian, who is best known for his time with System of a Down and happens to be a trained opera singer. And my main man and fellow geek, Matt Heafy, whose music got me into metal in the first place with Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr and who, when I saw live the first time, entered the stage to a remixed version of One-Winged Angel that was altered to say ‘Trivium’ instead of ‘Sephiroth’. The band top my Spotify ‘Wrapped’ charts every year.

“How do these two genres mix”, I hear you say? Essentially there’s a stream of arrows that move in towards the reticle (dead-centre of the screen) that every action needs to be timed to. That means shooting, dashing, glory-killing (told you it was very Doom-y), and even reloading. Those things still happen if the timing is missed, of course, but they aren’t as powerful or fast. Nor do they work as hard towards keeping the combo meter up at 16X where it clocks out and triggers the vocals kicking in, really getting the heart pumping and letting the player know they’re in the zone kicking major demon-ass. It ain’t easy, it requires doing both things simultaneously perfectly – making shots whilst bouncing around the arena and doing it in time with the beat. But man does it feel good to really get the rhythm down and start popping off. Everything just starts to flow like the river Styx. Better still if you’ve hot-switched to the smartest weapon for the situation and can blow away a crowd with the shotty, hit a few long-range snipes with the revolvers, or even get right up in some ugly’s face for a powerful whip of the sword.

The preview build may have only had a single level, albeit ending with a sweet boss-battle, but I had an excellent time with just that small taste. Now I’m even more excited that I thought possible for the release later this year. I had such a good time in fact, that I may have to play BPM: Bullets Per Minute to hold me over until then. I’ve heard good things about this undeniably mechanically-similar roguelike that came out shortly after Metal: Hellsinger’s announcement. However, I have to say I already went ahead and checked out the soundtrack – and it seems like a lot of fun – but that rock ‘n’ roll just won’t cut it when ploughing through hordes of beasties at a million miles a minute. You need something heavy and crunchy. Something that just bellows fury and demands you go all out. I believe Mick Gordon can confirm that, and Hellsinger delivers.

You’d think the gushing would end there but remember how the latest Doom games (that I’ll never stop referencing because they’re friggin’ awesome) had a surprisingly interesting narrative arc to flavour the mayhem? Well, what I certainly didn’t expect is to find something comparably engrossing here. Although at first I was astonished to find that we’d apparently be playing a cowboy-devil, what with the accent and all, it soon became obvious that that particular voice belonged to the narrator, played by Troy Baker. It turns out that the character we’ll be storming our way across the hells with is actually on a mission to take back her voice, which was stolen by the Red Judge. Only called ‘The Unknown’, the protagonist is a being whose soul and mind are attuned to the natural rhythm of the universe, allowing her to draw power from its ebb and flow as long as she stays aligned with it. I suppose this is where each weapon gets its ultimate ability from, as they draw in the energy gathered from being synchronised with the world around them. I assume some are afraid of these strengths and thus tried to weaken her. I’m so ready to see where this path of revenge will lead.