Metal Tales: Overkill (PC)

If you’ve always wondered what a metal infused, guitar wielding, twin stick shooter would be like then this from Zerouno Games should pique your interest. Originally a Kickstarter project and finally available for most platforms, has its world tour been a success so far?

The God Kuk is possessing all the guitar gods, and through them, the metalheads. With every concert, his legion of metalhead zombies slowly begin to wipe out the worlds metal bands and their dedicated fans. As legions of metalheads are stripped from their passion, can you defeat all the metal gods, save the world, and become the ultimate Metal God yourself?

The plot, whilst not really in-depth, is presented slickly using a comic style that keeps you updated. It doesn’t show itself often enough though, but the comic style does at least carry into the rest of the game. As the story mode has procedurally generated stages, you’ll often find your runs ending with a different boss as these can be tackled in a random order too. Luckily there’s co-op if you hit a snag on the journey, which also has support for Steams remote play so you can grab anyone to help you out.

Taking cues from the comic book delivery of the games story, the graphics take on the thick black lined style we know and love as cel-shading. Stages are detailed enough and keep within the theme of the concerts, though aren’t always too varied and can look a little rough around the edges at times, with the game pulling out the stops for the character models. Bosses in particular always look good, the chunky comic style allowing for some exaggerated designs, and the intro’s afforded to each also helps build up anticipation for the upcoming fight.

Which leads us to the best aspect of the presentation – Audio. Sound effects etc not so much, but the soundtrack is awesome. Instead of just an in-house BGM, the devs opted for a mostly licensed soundtrack featuring various styles of metal bands from around the world. This not only adds variety, each of the boss characters has their own track too, it sounds great whenever the music kicks in and can carry some moments. Having the music tracks available to listen to at will in the menu was also a nice touch.

At a most basic level, what we have here is a twin stick shooter. What helps it stand out a little, outside of the bombastic metal theme, is that it reminds me a lot of the ol’ Smash TV on the Mega Drive in how its levels are structured. The levels are split into rooms that you can explore at will, and not only do they contain different groups of enemies, but also can be trap rooms containing items or a shop to purchase some too (using coins collected from enemies) The key each time is to find the boss room and defeat them to move onto another gig. The claustrophobic nature of the rooms can lead to some frustration though, usually brought on by the bullet-hell enemies that shine a spotlight on the games controls. It’s fine mostly, but does take a little time to get a feel for them as it seems a little more sluggish in fast paced fights than expected – even with a controller.

Variety is added in various ways, including the bosses themselves, with various characters and items to use. Only two characters are available to begin with, one punchier and the other more agile, with other band members also able to help you out on a run if found. Items can also change up how you play they can offer up different bonuses, you can even find new guitars. These don’t always help, one for example I found had a powerful shot but ridiculously short range and slow shot movement, making it all but useless really and that run became a slog. Aside from that its always worth experimenting with the different gizmo’s to keep the variety up each run.

Metal Tales Overkill certainly has enough going for it, even if it is a little rough around the edges, especially if the idea of a procedurally generated metal themed Smash TV sounds right up your alley. The variety on offer will likely keep you coming back for a while too, but even if it doesn’t, then the show stealing soundtrack will. Worth a blast for metal heads given its low price.

3

Summary

A blast of metal goodness that’s a little rough-around-the-edges, but ultimately fun.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.