The Binding of Isaac is an excellent game. If you don’t agree with this opening sentence, then you may as well click away now. While Metal Tales: Overkill is thematically different, it feels like almost exactly the same game experience. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing will depend on your view of Nicalis’ groundbreaking work,
Metal Tales: Overkill is a game that, surprisingly, is about metal. It tells a story of metal gods, rockin’ guitars and demons and all manner of nonsense that’s associated with metal. As a lover of the genre myself – but not of the 1980/90’s pageantry – Metal Tales: Overkill walks a thin line between cliché and respect for the music within. The story is one that has been told 1,000 before, and 1,000 times better. However the music the game features is handled so respectfully it’s easy to overlook. So much so in fact, that as the credits role the developers remind you to support your local venues to keep the new music coming – what’s not to love about that?
So thematic is the game, that is was quite a surprise to find that all the default sound options were muted upon first boot. Whether this is intentional or a bug is unknown, but it’s hard to believe it was the former. Similarly, for Xbox Achievement and PlayStation Trophy hunters, you may find glitches preventing you from unlocking. Indeed, upon beating the first level the Achievement for completing level four unlocked. But after having finished the game, still no pop for the first level.
Stepping aside from the setting and technical issues, Metal Tales: Overkill is an enjoyable game. A roguelike that plays almost identically to the aforementioned The Binding of Isaac. You’ll take the fight to Kuk across a handful of randomly generated levels. The usual twinstick shooter set-up is present, and you’ll find all manner of enemy types and random power-ups as you progress. And that’s really all there is too it; Metal Tales: Overkill is as formulaic a genre piece as the setting it exists within.
There are a couple of sparks of ingenuity, but sadly these die out all too quickly. The player can choose from four playable characters (two initially, with a further two unlocked with progress), each of which have different strengths and weaknesses. The player is also able to purchase permanent upgrades for all characters by completing increasingly difficult in-game challenges. However, by the time you reach any meaningful upgrades you’ll no doubt have already played through the entire game two or three times.
The game also features co-operative gameplay, which is a nice touch. However it’s for local play only, and really doesn’t add much to the formula.
Ultimately, Metal Tales: Overkill is a fun game but in no way could it be considered original. It’s formulaic from beginning to end. It doesn’t innovate in the fashion of genre pieces such as Wildcat Gun Machine, and feels stagnant as a result. Zenouro Games obviously have confidence in the title though, with a retail edition on the way and the closing credits even tease a sequel, Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods. For what it’s worth, we’d be interested to see what the team can do with a bit more time and investment, but we’re not holding our breath for something groundbreaking.