You'll love it if:
- You love metal.
- You love rhythm games.
- You like perfecting your craft of musical slaughter.
Not for you if:
- You have no sense of rhythm.
- Really hate metal.
- Want a slow paced game with plenty of time to think.
I’ve been waiting some time to do this Metal: Hellsinger review. Once I got wind that some of my favourite artists would be featured on the soundtracks, hype slowly seeded inside me. After getting a hands-on session at Gamescom 2022, I was sure Metal: Hellsinger was going to be a (head)bang of a game. Did it live up to my hype on the full release? Get your devil horns ready because it’s a hell yes.
Metal: Hellsinger review – Get your neck brace ready
Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm FPS developed by The Outsiders in Stockholm. A thirty person (and two dog) company focused on creating original, high quality games. Their debut game, Darkborn, was cancelled in April of 2020.
Choosing to focus on a new project, which turned out to be Metal: Hellsinger. A beautiful collaboration of music and violence.
Story – Tales from the depths of hell (spoiler-free)
If you still have to wonder if the story section is spoiler-free. You haven’t read much on the BGeek website. I only spoiled some story in my Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood review because the story was simply unfinished, in order for you to understand, I just had to mention its flaws and shortcomings. For Metal: Hellsinger there is no need for such trivialities.
As the story is rather short and a side-note. A nice addition for your first entry into the hells and lore behind some of the torment levels. The true drive for Metal: Hellsinger is perfection and growing your score on the leaderboard. But more on that later.
The voiceless Unknown and the head narrator
You are The Unknown, cast into hell for unknown reasons. The demons of hell simply dubbed you, The Unknown. Vengeance is your goal and you will stop at nothing to achieve it. The Judge of hell has stolen your voice and you want it back.
Being locked up for centuries, you suddenly feel a call and are pulled from your prison in hell where the judge put you. You slaughter your way out with your sword and find Paz, a deteriorated skull in the snows of the first hell. He is the voice of our narrator and seems to have a bond with The Unknown.
Not knowing why or how everything fits together, you both set out for vengeance. As you progress through the layers of hell, The Unknown finds more tools of destruction and memories.
Simple but beautifully brought
The story isn’t a huge innovation or new narrative that will blow you away. There are some twists that are mainly there to change up the way you play. Like introducing new types of enemies or having to adapt your play-style a bit.
The beauty lies within the art The Outsiders used for bringing the story. Beautiful half animated stills and some top of the line voice work all round. Paz’ voice is such a good narrator, it really draws you in as he tells the tale.
Gameplay – Beat demons to the beat
Metal: Hellsinger is the worst don’t-headbang-challenge I have done in my life. The hardest part during my Metal: Hellsinger review was not headbanging. As it gets kinda hard to shoot demons when you aren’t paying attention to your screen.
Rhythm, what now?
A rhythm FPS means you have to shoot enemies to the beat of the music that is currently playing. Easier said than done as you are also dodging, reloading and jumping to that same beat. Luckily there are plenty of visual cues to help you reign down destruction on whatever stands in your way.
Sync your audio and input delay before playing if you want the best results. There is an in-game option that runs a few tests to optimise everything. I had a 0ms delay for the pc but the Xbox had about 78ms for audio and 82ms for input. Probably because the TV has a lower refresh rate and wireless controllers have some signal delay.
If you forget to do this, it will cause a minor headache. If Metal: Hellsinger notices you are off-beat quite often it will prompt you to run the sync tool for better results. Nice touch from The Outsiders.
Descend the hells
Metal: Hellsinger is made up out of eight levels and a tutorial. It won’t take you days to beat Metal: Hellsinger the first time either. On easy you will go as fast as four hours to complete it. Higher difficulties force you to be on beat more for maximum damage and increase the damage output of demons. You also get several resurrects per level at the cost of points, higher difficulty equals lower amount of resurrects.
Each level has a different aesthetic and after completing it you get three challenges to complete. Completing these challenges called torments, unlock passives that you can use to create builds that complement your play-style.
Shoot, slice, pound
An arsenal of six weapons awaits you, but you can only take two on your crusades into hell. Each weapon plays and feels vastly different. Especially when you take into account that reloading and shooting to the beat can be just a bit faster or slower depending on the tool. I quickly had favourites and stuck with them for most of Metal: Hellsinger.
Each tool has an ultimate attack that you charge by, you guessed it, getting hits on beat. Soon you will be dashing, shooting and reloading in a beautiful dance to elude the attacks of your enemies and slay them with precision. While you try not to headbang and a tear rolls down your cheek.
Eargasms – Metal: Hellsinger sound design
You simply cannot talk about a rhythm game and not mention the music you slaughter to.
Hell for some and heaven for others
If you aren’t a huge metal fan the soundtrack of Metal: Hellsinger might not be your thing. The Outsiders worked with Two Feathers studios to produce the soundtracks for Metal: Hellsinger. And whoever had the idea to include some of the most iconic metal voices in the scene deserves a goddamn raise.
And by iconic I mean those that can still sing and aren’t with one foot in the grave like Ozzy Osbourne. Iconic might be vastly different depending on the sub-genre of metal that you listen to, but they sure as hell have some of the best singers on display that I know.
Even if metal isn’t your music genre of choice. The sound design in Metal: Hellsinger is simply superb for a rhythm FPS and if you like the rhythm FPS genre you should definitely try out Metal: Hellsinger.
Old and new voices sing for The Unknown
Some of the known rooted singers in Metal: Hellsinger are known to many and the strength of their voice is respected worldwide. Like Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God), Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility), Serj Tankian (System of a Down) and Matt Heafy (Trivium).
The roster also includes some of the newer talent in the scene like Tatiana Shmayluk (Jinjer), a personal favourite of mine because of her insane vocal range.
Below you can find a list of all tracks.
- Acheron – Two Feathers featuring Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God)
- Blood and Law – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility)
- Burial At Night – Two Feathers featuring Tatiana Shmayluk (Jinjer)
- Dissolution – Two Feathers featuring Björn ‘Speed’ Strid (Soilwork)
- Internal Invocation I: Hopes and Fears – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility)
- Internal Invocation II: Defiance – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility)
- Internal Invocation III: Dreaming in Distortion – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility)
- No Tomorrow – Two Feathers featuring Serj Tankian (System of a Down)
- Poetry Of Cinder – Two Feathers featuring James Forton (Black Crown Initiate)
- Silent No More – Two Feathers featuring Dennis Lyxzén (Refused)
- Stygia – Two Feathers featuring Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy)
- The Hellsinger – Two Feathers
- This Devastation – Two Feathers featuring Matt Heafy (Trivium)
- This is the End – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility)
- Through You – Two Feathers featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity)
Designing music for games to the point of perfection
The soundtracks of Metal: Hellsinger aren’t just soundtracks. Two Feathers Studios didn’t just create some metal tunes and put them in the game. No, they created several layers to each song that build on top of each other.
As you start a level you have the base layer with the beat clearly discernible, and therefore you start ramping up that multiplier. As you hit the 4x threshold the music intensifies and another layer of the song opens up.
While you still have the beat very clear for you without being too distracted by the added instruments. As you hit 8x the third layer opens up and the swell of the music takes you in. You are no longer just focussed on the beat, the song is you and your slaughter. And when you hit 16x the vocals engulf your ears and the arena, striking fear into demons as your eyes catch fire and you are no longer gaming but on a rampage in hell.
I cannot stress enough how well the soundtrack is designed to fit into the Rhythm FPS part of Metal: Hellsinger.
Metal: Hellsinger review – Performance
For the pc version of Metal: Hellsinger it was tested in 1440p capped at 144fps with an 11th series i5 and RTX 3080 using the Steelseries Prime+ for optimal clicking pleasure. I added this because the click you feel when using the Steelseries Prime+ really helped focus on shooting on beat as it feels better than the Steelseries Aerox 5.
The xbox version was tested on an Xbox Series X with an Elite Series 2 pro controller and the SteelSeries Arctis 9X for the best listening experience. I mean it’s a game that revolves around sound and doing things to the beat. Hearing it better and more clearly is definitely an upside.
Ran like Iron Maiden on the Highway to Hell. Pretty smooth without any issues.
XBOX Series X
As I mentioned earlier there was some delay in the sound output and input from the controller. The tool in the options made quick work of that and I didn’t notice any hiccups on that part. General performance was near perfect but not as good as the PC version.
I tested both performance mode and resolution and like always I prefer performance mode. You are going for points competing on leaderboards and your personal best. You want fast reactions and a clear image to pick up all the details and power ups. Resolution mode looks better but adds motion blur and bloom for the sake of performance at the cost of visibility.
Occasionally you will see an enemy clip into the floor or wall. Especially when they use a special attack or you dash into them. They looked weird while they got stuck but still died to my bullets nonetheless. Certain pathing issues did occur on bigger units, as they tried to reach me, but got stuck on a smaller platform or had no clue on how to get to me. That’s basically a free kill and points.
The biggest issue was that some AOE attacks didn’t feel properly lined out, like they had a bigger hit box than their visual aspect showed in game. I jumped over certain attacks only to still be damaged by them. And shooting the arm of the shielded unit felt awkward at times as I was sure that I hit the arm, but it registered on the shield instead.
Metal: Hellsinger – Conclusion
Do you like metal music? Get it. Do you like rhythm games? Get it. Do you have Gamepass Ultimate? Play it. While it’s not story heavy and the focus lies more on improving your own score and competing with the world to get to the top, it’s still really fun to play. The design of the music is top tier for the gaming industry and rhythm based games.
This review was not sponsored but supported the creators of Metal: Hellsingers. Sometimes a game is just too good and you want to give them your well earned money. This is one of them.