Metal: Hellsinger Is A Rhythm Action FPS Inspired By Doom

Coming to current and next-gen platforms in 2021, Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm action first-person shooter where you battle through hell in tune with killer beats.


At first glance, Metal: Hellsinger looks to hit the same stride that id Software's Doom series has, but as it turns out, developer The Outsiders' new rhythm action game marches to the tune of its own metal beat. As an FPS set in the depths of hell, you'll use an arsenal of weapons to slice, shoot, and obliterate your enemies. But to succeed in your journey through the underworld, you'll need to stay to rip and tear in step with the game's metal songs to build up energy to fight onward.

Published by Funcom and releasing in 2021 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm FPS that presses you to keep up with the beat as you slay monsters. Just before its reveal, we had the chance to talk with creative director David Goldfarb--who previously worked on Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Payday 2--about Metal: Hellsinger. He detailed the history of the game, and how it's the "Paradise Lost of metal." You take on the role of The Unknown, a half-human, half-demon supernatural being who wields powerful weapons and relics. As you march through hell, you'll be closer to your confrontation with The Red Judge, who commands the underworld forces.

If the name of developer The Outsiders sounds familiar, then you may remember it from its previous work on Darkborn--formerly called Project Wight. It was a stealth-action game steeped in Norse mythology, and its gameplay trailer showcasing brutal combat and a stunningly grotesque style made some waves online. However, Darkborn couldn't find its footing, and it was shelved in the months after the reveal. But according to Goldfarb, the work on Darkborn did set the groundwork for Metal: Hellsinger.

"We couldn't have made [Metal: Hellsinger] without our experience on Darkborn," said the creative director. "Don't get me wrong, I still wished we could have made that game, but sometimes you have to make decisions for the survival of the studio. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to make this game, it's so unlikely and improbable that A, it would have been good, and B, that we would have been able to make it. So many things that shouldn't have worked did, and with Funcom coming in [to publish], we were just so lucky to have made it at all--and all this during a pandemic! So it's been a crazy year, but it's been good, we're having a lot of fun with this game."

We got a chance to play a quick demo of Metal: Hellsinger, and its approach to combat definitely took a few runs for things to click. Hellsinger is all about the synergy of high-octane music and fast-paced gameplay, which are instrumental parts of the fast-paced, white-knuckle flow of combat. Like its influences, Hellsinger couples music with fast-paced action to get you into the pace and flow of combat. These tracks put a focus on getting you in the moment and in sync with the many metal tracks playing in the background. While you can freely attack without sticking to the beat, you'll miss out on vital combo multipliers that buff your attacks.

In Metal: Hellsinger, you'll need to time your attacks to the beat of the heavy metal music.
In Metal: Hellsinger, you'll need to time your attacks to the beat of the heavy metal music.

Channeling each battle's energy and intensity are a selection of tracks from artists who've worked with metal bands such as Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Trivium, and Dark Tranquility. At the begging of a combo, you'll hear the basic beat and rhythm of the song, but as the action ramps up and you build the multiplier, new instruments and vocals come in like you're taking part in an intense and grotesque orchestra. It took some time to get a handle, but when I found myself getting into it, I really enjoyed the pacing of the combat. This pacing felt similar to that of Doom (2016) or Doom Eternal, but there's a much more active element to it. During my chat with Goldfarb, he described that the intensity of the music is a vital part of Hellsinger, which helps to draw you into its world.

"Having the music tie into the combat experience was huge for us, and we wanted to make sure you were always in the zone," said Goldfarb. "As the music ramps, you'll get to hear the vocals, and having the vocals be a part of the combat adds the experience of being in combat in this vast world. We could have handled it in several different ways, but without the metal, it wouldn't be the same. I don't know if opera is the right [way to describe it], but I wanted this to be the Paradise Lost of metal--to treat metal in a way that it felt it was a universe unto itself. It meant that we had to reach out to all these metal bands and work with them to ensure that every level had its own music and was its own album cover. It all connected to the conceit that you were about to witness all these vast, cosmic powers in conflict, and have the music drive all that."

Metal: Hellsinger has got a killer and enticing hook, which certainly gives it an edge as it fights in the same territory that games like Doom operate in. With its release set for sometime in 2021, I'm interested in seeing how far this metal rhythm action FPS will take things throughout its descent through hell.

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