It was only three months ago since I was introduced to the thrilling and chaotic world of Metal: Hellsinger thanks to a demo released by The Outsiders. Ever since, I’ve been craving the bloody and insanity-infused combat in all its glory, and now, after playing the full release, I can’t get enough of it. From the variety of demons to the impressive arsenal, Metal: Hellsinger features everything you need from a FPS, but when you throw in the mix its rhythm mechanics, it becomes such an enjoyable journey into the depths of hell.
The premise of Metal: Hellsinger sees you play as The Unknown, a part human, part demon who is looking for vengeance against The Red Judge. Travelling through various Hells, you must destroy her demonic forces and take out the bosses until you eventually find yourself face-to-face with Satan. It’s no easy task, with each level becoming tougher than the last, and when you have to factor in the rhythmic elements, it can push you to the limits of your own capabilities. If things do get too much, you can resurrect the Unknown at the cost of your points. Only two are allowed per Hell, but it offers a nice cushion for anyone finding it difficult.
Thankfully, you’re more than up to the task, due to the amount of weapons you unlock along the way. Each level in the Hells features a brand new weapon, and you’re free to adjust your loadout at the start of each new level. I became a big fan of the shotgun and the crossbow that fired off explosive rounds, but perhaps my favourite were the Hellcrows: duel blades that acted as boomerangs without the need to reload. Becoming used to the pattern of quick reloads and dodging to the beat are key to successful runs, and factoring in when to fire is a massive part of Metal: Hellsinger, because if you don’t find your rhythm, things can get out of hand quickly.
All of the original music in Metal: Hellsinger is written to build and dissipate depending on your performance. The more you fire weapons and attack enemies on the beat, the faster you build your Fury gauge. Factoring in reloading on those beats and dashing at the right moment also adds to your Fury, meaning you’ll not only hear every aspect of the track, but you’ll do more damage. If you’re struggling or keep missing beats, the music is resigned to the drum track and a faint guitar riff. However, if you’re killing it, every part of the instrumentation and the variety of insanely talented vocalists will kick in.
Having the full song playing whilst killing demons gives you an intrinsic boost to your performance because you’re so invested in the music and the shooting, especially if you like that style of music. Even if you don’t like metal, you can still appreciate the soundtrack because of the skill and talent taken to make songs work with the design of the levels and its gameplay. For fans of System of a Down, Trivium, and Arch Enemy, you’re going to absolutely love it. My main concern with the mechanic of Fury and ‘building’ the tracks as you play was the occasional times you’d go without enemies spawning.
I would have a section where there’d be tons of enemies and opportunities to build Fury, then nothing, meaning the songs would be reduced to their bare bones. There would also be moments where only a few demons would appear before sections of nothing, adding areas where I couldn’t fully enjoy the tracks on offer, especially if it was one of my favourites. For much of Metal: Hellsinger, this isn’t the case. The further you go down the hellish rabbit hole, the more enemies there are, and the tougher they are. Before each Hell you visit, you can change your loadout.
You can pick a couple of guns to have at your disposal, being able to switch between them throughout that particular hell. Each weapon has an Ultimate, so when you’ve built up a ton of damage with it, pressing Y gives you an ability that can help greatly with the situation. The two dual pistols allow you to plant a turret of sorts which is fundamentally another you firing off rounds, the Hellcrows encompass you in a tornado of hellish blades, injuring anything that gets too close, and the shotgun fires a powerful blast when you use it. Each Hell you visit has a selection of Torments for you to complete. These mini-missions often require you to kill a certain amount of enemies to be able to unlock special abilities for you to use in the main Hells.
For example, one Torment had me taking out 30 enemies, but my weapon would change randomly so I never knew what I was going to get. However, after killing the 30 enemies in the required time, I was given a special ability I could equip when venturing into the Hells. Not only do these Sigils improve your loadout, they also give you more of a chance to improve your score. The other main draw of Metal: Hellsinger is the replayability, and the challenge of getting on the leaderboards. The better you perform, the better your score. I’m not one of those obsessed with placing high in the rankings, but for those that want to push themselves to do so will have plenty of opportunity to make this happen.
Metal: Hellsinger is an excellent FPS at its core, with fluid movement and gunplay that highlights the calibre of developers at The Outsiders. When you mix in the rhythm elements, the level design, and the way different guns and Sigils factor in to each run, you’re given a wonderful mix of elements that make it a unique and frantic game capable of keeping you hooked for hours. The soundtrack is excellent, with some standout performances from Matt Heafy and Alissa White-Gluz.
Fluid movement and gunplay
Wonderful implementation of rhythm mechanics
Lots of replayability
Moments where you can't appreciate the whole song
Tough for beginners to the genre
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