It all started with the guitar gods… Picture the scene. Friday night in Dive bar. Heavy metal plays on the jukebox. You and your friends are having a couple of beers, unwinding at the start of the weekend. Then, an evil presence seeps into the bar. Your friends are controlled by a malevolent force, and start rampaging! Buzzsaws cut across rooms, and lava erupts from the floor. Beer bottles and amps come to life and start attacking you. What do you do?
You grab your mystical guitar, and shoot bolts of magic to purge the evil! Obviously. So starts Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods. A silly premise? Maybe. Bu that doesn’t stop it from being good fun. A Roguelike twin stick shooter, Metal Tales sees you progress through 5 randomly generated levels in order to defeat the evil force controlling all your metal friends.
Each level is themed around a typical Metal venue. From the aforementioned dive bar to music festivals and even on stage, the levels display a tongue in cheek self-awareness. Beat up juke boxes, trash bags scattered around, run down pool tables and posters plastered everywhere. Having spent maybe too much time in places just like it in my formative years, the parody hits the nail on the head.
Similarly, the enemies are all delightful stereotypes of your typical Metal crowd. The kids that jump around, wannabe guitar heroes, huge fat guys in both long-haired and shaved bald flavours, the gothic girls in the extravagant (black) dresses, they’re all there!
Power ups and items, too, take their cues from the world of Metal. Books holding the ancient techniques of Kirk Hammett make your attacks stronger. Icon of wannabe Vikings everywhere, Mjolnir, will replenish all your health. Which, by the way, is represented by guitar picks. The game is like a love letter to the Metal genre.
Metal Tales soundtrack is great. The original score riffs along nicely during each level, and the boss fights features tracks from international Metal bands from around the world. If you’re a fan of the genre, you won’t be disappointed.
Initially, I found it great fun. Just like a real night out at a metal bar, it starts of as great. Everything seems to be in place for an entertaining time right through. But, eventually, the flaws start to show. What was once a certain charm vanishes, as you start to notice the questionable stains and broken furniture.
Like any Roguelike, Metal Tales is near impossible to finish on the first playthrough. A series of continuous quests are there for you to complete. Kill 10 Enemies, solve a puzzle room, etc. Complete these, get upgrade points. Pretty usual stuff. Except after a certain point, the difficulty curve of these quest gets ramped up to 11. “Defeat 100 enemies” is a bit of a drag, but when asked to defeat 500 of one specific kind of enemy? Of which there is usually a dozen or so per level? That’s gonna take a while. The reward for this quest? 20 upgrade points. It takes several hundred upgrade points just to move a bit faster. North of 500 to improve your basic damage. The gradual progression that is inherent in Roguelike games is replaced with a grind heavier than a Mastodon bass line.
Any real chance to progress is replaced by the hope that you come across good power ups to plough your way through each level. For me, this killed the fun I was having. It’s sad but true. An entertaining and funny game, brought low by unnecessary grind quests. The devs continue to work on this game, so it’s possible this may be remedied. But I can only review what I have right now, and nothing else matters.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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