Metal: Hellsinger review: this headbanging shooter is a bit one-note

Metal: Hellsinger

MSRP $39.99

“Metal: Hellsinger will probably be successful with metalheads because of its killer soundtrack, but its lacking as each a shooter and rhythm game.”


  • Basic premise is fun
  • Strong sound design
  • Excellent metal soundtrack
  • High stakes challenges


  • Restrictive beat-matching
  • Odd tonal selections
  • One-note experience

Relating to subtlety, Metal: Hellsinger says, “Hell no.” Drawing inspiration from 2016’s excellent Doom reboot, the rhythm-shooter takes every design hook that made id Software’s game so memorable and blares them through a stack of amplifiers cranked well past 11. Should you could never put your finger on why Doom is such an oddly satisfying play, prepare to have it moshed into your skull.

Developer The Outsiders accomplishes that by adding a beat-matching component on top of fast-paced first-person shooting, much like Gun Jam. Players need to slay demons in time with fierce metal music to maximise their rating and damage output. It deliberately gamifies the experience of subconsciously playing along to a game’s music, though in a way that may feel more restrictive when laid bare.

Metal: Hellsinger delivers on its genre-blending motion premise because of a killer metal soundtrack that’ll be successful with its audience. Nonetheless, in deconstructing the rhythmic secrets of games like Doom, the shooter exposes the bones of its genre perhaps a bit greater than players actually need to see.

Demon metronome

At a passing glance, it’s easy to confuse Metal: Hellsinger with Doom Everlasting. The Outsiders isn’t attempting to hide its inspirations, recreating Doom’s arena-like battles full of powerups to grab and demons to slay. Over the course of eight levels, players shoot and slash their way through different realms of Hell in linear fashion, every one culminating in a classic “red bar” boss fight against an “Aspect.” To make the Doom connection much more explicit, health will be earned by melee killing a weakened enemy while it’s flashing. As a pure shooter, Metal: Hellsinger doesn’t do much to out-Doom Doom itself.

Every motion is an element of 1 ongoing metal symphony.

The rhythm aspect acts as a counterbalance to that. The twist is that players are encouraged to shoot to the beat of music. Small arrows pulse on either side of a gun’s crosshairs, giving a subtle cue for when the most effective moment to shoot is. After I’m within the groove, battles are a blast. I cut down some weak dregs with two quick sword slashes, swap to my shotgun to pump some slugs right into a larger foe one after the other, and follow up with an execution — all like I’m drumming alongside the music with my attacks.

What especially makes that work is a few extra attention to sound design and animation. When I want to reload my shotgun, it’s not a thoughtless motion. It too cracks open and cocks on beat. If I hit the reload button again on a glowing gold beat, I’ll trigger a fast energetic reload that shortens the animation, but will get me back to shooting on a unique beat than I expect. Even when I don’t have to jump or dash on beat, I find myself doing it anyway to take care of that flow state. Every motion is an element of 1 ongoing metal symphony.

Metal Hellsinger gameplay shooting at demons.

While it’s a simple hook to latch on to, it becomes disappointingly restrictive and mechanical. I’m essentially at all times performing actions on a 4/4 beat, making it feel like my gunshots are the metronome quite than an instrument within the band. It’s a little bit of a mismatch for a genre of music that usually feels dynamic because it plays with speed and rhythm. Even when the music makes those changes, I’m at all times just keeping time.

Metal: Hellsinger could have stood to experiment a bit more with its beat-matching system, perhaps drawing more inspiration from games like Thumper than Doom. We get pieces of that in its small collection of weapons, similar to a pair of boomerang-like blades that should be tossed in a fast one-two pattern, but I rarely feel like I’m adapting to the music a lot as steadily pushing a button. I’m left with a game that’s not particularly a fantastic shooter nor a fantastic rhythm game.

Rock on

Metal: Hellsinger can be somewhat disappointing if not for its excellent soundtrack, which does some heavy lifting here. The Outsiders has assembled a metal dream team to deliver its hellacious soundtrack. Singers like Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz bring the fitting level of guttural fury to the experience. Most notably, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian delivers an exceptional vocal performance on No Tomorrow, which could also be among the finest original songs which have ever been composed for a game.

It is a game by metalheads, for metalheads.

There’s a slight annoyance to how the music is implemented. Killing demons increases a rating modifier, which works as much as 16x. Vocals for songs only kick in when that meter is maxed out, and drop out if the combo dips to 8x. It’s a little bit of a buzzkill to be headbanging along to a track only to take successful and have vocals abruptly cut out like someone stopped playing an instrument in Rock Band. It adds some incentive to do well, but makes it hard to soak into the music consistently.

Metal isn’t only a music selection; it’s an aesthetic. The shooter has a blast crafting making a world that seems like a metal album cover come to life. The story follows The Unknown, a mysterious demon who shows up in Hell someday. The devil, a large skeleton referred to as the Red Judge, steals her voice and imprisons her, prompting her bloodthirsty revenge quest. Bits of lore are peppered throughout, constructing The Outsiders’ vision of Hell with demonic intrigue.

The Unknown stares down an aspect in Metal: Hellsinger.

The tone isn’t exactly consistent though. Every mission leads off with an animated cutscene featuring narration from Troy Baker, who voices The Unknown’s talking skull Paz. Baker delivers his lines in a slow southern drawl, sounding like a slick cowboy as light guitar licks play. I felt tonal whiplash as I went between the Western-tinged cinematics and nightmarish thrills that followed.

Even with that odd quirk, it is a game by metalheads, for metalheads. Those that love the music and subculture will feel like The Outsiders has created a game only for them. The soundtrack could also be its lasting legacy though, not the shooting.


Metal: Hellsinger can often feel like a one-note experience. While the degrees have some visual differences, they’re all an identical in structure. Even nearly all of its bosses are the identical demonic enemy with a rather different twist added in. While the campaign will be accomplished in a slim 4 hours, even that felt a little bit long by the top as I trudged through the last two realms.

That’s mostly since the shooter doesn’t introduce many latest ideas past its opening level. Recent weapons are unlocked in each realm early on, but that slow drip of tools to experiment with stops within the back half. Once I had a weapon loadout I used to be comfortable with, I didn’t have much incentive to modify it up. By realm five, I used to be just in it for the music — an itch a Spotify playlist could have scratched.

It inadvertently removes what’s so special about gaming’s natural rhythms.

It’s no surprise that a few of my favorite moments got here from the sport’s bonus challenges, dubbed Torments. Completing a realm unlocks three timed challenges where I want to kill demons to increase the clock. Each brings a novel twist, which switches up the gameplay. One would auto-swap my weapon at random, forcing me to modify my strategy on the fly. One other would force me to land kills with my weapon’s ultimate ability. While I settled right into a workmanlike flow within the story, Torments kept my blood pumping with high-stakes clock races that reward some extra perks.

Other than that, high rating chasing appears to be the secret. Players accrue massive point totals during a level as they string together “combos” (these are generally just basic strings of actions like getting two quick kills or dashing in succession) and the ultimate total gets placed on a leaderboard. For individuals who need to get competitive, Metal: Hellsinger would require rather a lot more quickness and precision, and that ought to keep it exciting.

The Unknown fights a demon in a cave in Metal: Hellsinger.

That need for speed left me with some control gripes, though. Players hold 4 weapons at a time, with a sword and bullet-spewing skull equipped in any respect times. Nonetheless, every one must be swapped in to make use of it, as all weapons fire with the identical button. That slowed down the pace of combat barely enough to go away me wishing I could push in a stick with sword slash quite than having to cycle to it. If I would like to make use of that tool on a controller, I’d either have to pop right down to the D-pad to equip it or press the fitting bumper twice (one press will bring up the skull as a substitute, a weak weapon I barely used). I’d often find myself slipping off-beat as I fumbled over to the weapon I wanted to make use of.

As I struggled with that, I assumed back to Doom Everlasting, a game whose DNA lives in Metal: Hellsinger. In that game, the motion never stops. The control scheme allows me to shoot, chainsaw enemies, belch fire, and melee with dedicated button assignments. After I played that game, I subconsciously approached it like a rhythm game as I weaved every bit of my arsenal together into one symphony of destruction. Metal: Hellsinger seems fascinated with the invisible groove we discover ourselves in when playing games like that. But by putting explicit cues on-screen, it inadvertently removes what’s so special about gaming’s natural rhythms.

If Doom is a jam session that provides players space to improvise, Metal: Hellsinger is a highschool recital. There’s only thus far you’ll be able to stray from the sheet music.

Metal: Hellsinger was tested on PC and Steam Deck.

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