Okay can I just make two statements before proceeding with the actual review? To all people out there and my fellow gamers, if you had found yourself enjoying The Binding of Isaac at some point of your life, then Metal Tales is definitely a game you should give a try. Now all you people, who fall into the previous category (or not, I suppose), but you are metalheads or enjoy metal music at least a bit … then what are you doing here? Go, buy the game, right now. I seriously want you to stop reading this review and just buy the game and try it out for yourself, trust me you will not regret.
Welcome to Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods – a game which took me right back to my metal roots … roots I had forgotten a bit with all the other crap I was listening to. But, oh it feels so good and my ears were having orgasms here and there like a … I better not make that comparison. In truth, every time I not listen to metal for a couple of months or so (it was longer now) and then I pull up a metal song, my heart just melts from joy. Anyways, let’s get right into the review, shall we?
This being the game that it is, I think it only fitting to start talking about the music and OST present in it first. Okay, here is the thing. I use 2 types of headphones. One are older ones, for just casual chatting, netting and playing games. The other one is the newer, more HD sounding, which I use to listen to music, because they are not only HD but louder and I am the type of person who loves her music exploding in her ears. Well let me tell you, the moment the game loaded and I heard the first default menu song, I was totally like “wait, wait, wait, I gotta get my HD earphones for this and pump up the volume” and it felt so good. Honestly the soundtrack is just beautiful, I loved every single track of it and no matter how many times it repeats, I didn’t care, because it was just that awesome. We have original soundtracks for all the levels, menu, etc, etc. You hear one tune when just exploring and another when fighting in rooms and then comes the earcandy. Licensed tracks on bosses and the in-game shop. OMG, I loved them. I had heard of some of the bands, but not really listened to them extensively and I have to say probably my favorite would be “As You Bleed” by “Despite”. But honestly, there is so much variety, like, I even used the songs as like background music for when I was playing other games … that’s how good they are (though my PC didn’t really appreciate having 2 games open). And if I have to be 100% honest with you devs, I took this game purely because I had no doubt that it will be awesome, when it comes to music selection. Hands down for this. It’s like, I don’t really have what to say about music here, because it’s just so awesome and I didn’t really find anything negative about it, so if I keep typing, it’s just gonna be me fangirling to metal music. But yeah, it is what it is, if anything, Metal Tales is so worth it completely based only on music. Like if you’re not a big fan of this type of games, but you are a metalhead, the music is worth it. It even managed to pump me up and get me super hyped while playing. GG, well done, I applaud you. You know, I love when games take care of their music, because I think music is a very important part of the game itself. So it’s nice to see cool soundtrack. Takes me back to when I reviewed Klang. A game heavily dependent on music and just like here, they did an awesome job too, even if in a different genre of music.
And can I even go as far to say that Metal Tales is a beautiful game visually as well. Like not only as a standoff, but the fact that the atmosphere it creates with its scenery and textures, puts me right into that typical metal club/concert feel (like seriously, now I wanna go to a metal concert, since it’s been so long from when I’ve last been on one). But yeah, the art style is this cartoony, comic setting. The game intro is presented with a comic (it’s in Spanish I think, but thank you for the English text though). So, it starts off with a short comic and then it lets you right into level 1. The main menu … ah the menu, right from the start you get that metal feel, man. Like the menu consists of beautifully made buttons and background. Like honestly, I cannot even describe it. The buttons are like those old audio tapes, if you remember and there are so many stuff on the background like comics, badges, tapes, pins, newspaper clips, like honestly just put a picture of the main menu here and everyone will just know what I mean. Besides that, from the menu you can actually go (the extras tab) and listen to all the licensed songs … how cool is that. I loved that Klang did this too and it kinda lets the player just chill with the awesome music. I also love in the menu when you choose a track it also gives you like a bit of backstory band info, for all my hardcore metal fans out there. In-game settings are amazing too. Like you have three of them and they are all metal related (like the club and the forest area). I mean seriously, there are so many details in the levels themselves. For example in the bar areas you have actual bars with stools, beer bottles everywhere, those old pin machines, pool tables, there are speakers at each corner and neon signs. Man, I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I love when a game pays attention to such little visual details, it just warms me ol’ heart :). Damn I’m getting hyped just by writing about this game … lol.
All right enough d*cking around, let’s go into gameplay. For all of you who have played The Binding of Isaac before, then Metal Tales is exactly like that game, just with a different setting and feel. Honestly if I had to pick one I’d pick Metal Tales just for the awesome music and backgrounds, but both are quite nice. So at the start you pick a character to play with. There are 4 available total with 2 on start and 2 locked for when you beat certain levels of the game. I tried out both starting characters, they do have different stats and it does say that the guy has stronger attacks than the girl, while lacking in speed. Okay, I had some major issues with attacks here. If I have to be completely truthful, I felt no difference between attack strength at all or attack speed for that matter. Like you know how just like in The Binding of Isaac you can find random items that boost you or f*ck you up. I found quite a lot which boosted my attack speed (none of that was felt), the damage was barely felt (maybe on small mobs more than on bosses), but the ones which increase and decrease my projectile size puzzled me. Like the one, which increases your projectile size is supposed to be the good one, and the one which decreases it is supposed to be the bad one, but contrary to that I felt like the smaller my projectiles were the more I was hitting the actual enemies … is that just me? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really think there is much to that size increase/decrease. Also there was an item, which makes your projectiles homing … didn’t feel that either. Like, yeah they do get sucked to the enemy just a tiiiiiiny little bit, but I feel like for the unforgiveness of this game, making the projectiles more homing than that would be nice. I did like the bounce projectiles (where they bounce off walls), those helped me out a lot. Okay so beside that, you have certain objects, which make you invulnerable for a short time, empower your attacks in a certain way and even new guitars, which fire different projectiles. To be fair, I found using the default the most, because I picked up a guitar once, which shot 3 fast projectiles at a time and then had a little pause between attacks … that was so bad to use, I mean , I sucked so much at using that guitar and when I reached the boss … regrets man, regrets. But I do like the items’ theme, the way they are made to match the game (I loved the old Walkman one, where it says like, no fast forward, and you wait an hour to get to that one song … ah, memory lane). So in my opinion items can be worked more on, like make the change noticeable, not overpowered, but enough to be noticeable, because let’s face it, I felt as if with or without it, I’d still die horribly. Also if you do need to boost positive items a bit, I don’t mind boosting negative items, because ultimately this game involves a lot of luck in runs and that’s the way it should be, but it should feel rewarding when you find a good item and screwing when you find a negative debuffing item, and quite frankly, it just didn’t either way.
So how does a default run of the game look like, for all my fellows, who have not tried The Binding of Isaac before? You start from level one with just your character and a bonus item they get, which you can see at the character selection screen. Camera is top-down view (like an eagle … or any bird for that matter) and everything is 3D. Then you go explore level one until you find the boss area, then do the boss and it immediately shoves you to level two. If you have half a health pick left, then you know you’re screwed. But yeah, basically you survive for as long as you can, which is actually not that easy to do. There are a few types of rooms. You have default fighting rooms, which vary in sizes (damn, the small ones can be really fucking up at times), you have trap rooms, where you navigate a series of traps in order to get a bonus item, there are survival rooms where you fend off 3 waves of enemies and hope to get something good, the shop room, where you buy items from with coins, which you find through the levels and finally – the boss room. So in each level you find coins for the shop, a disc thingy, which is like a flash grenade and it does massive damage and keys, which unlock locked rooms. Oh, you can also get what I like to call free rooms, where you find something like a bonus item inside (I love these man). So yeah, basically you start the game, progress as much as you can and then die. Only complaint here is that items can be a bit confusing, like, it only took me over 10-15 runs to find out I can use flash grenades and it was because I read a comment on steam. With that said, the game pretty much leaves you to figure stuff on your own. Maybe a little hint, you know, for all the dumb people out there (including me), will be appreciated.
The cool thing here is that everything is randomly generated. Like with the amount of times you’re gonna die, each time the game generates the levels entirely randomly, so there is no way to just speed through cheat this, and honestly that’s only fitting to do, because it adds so much replayability value to the game, it’s unreal. I would have enjoyed if Beholder had a bit of randomness like here, but with that game it might be a bit difficult to do. Anyways, so each run you do of Metal Tales is going to be unique. That’s why I mentioned that the game is kind of luck based, because the map is randomly generated, the items are randomly generated and get this … the boss is randomly generated too. For the first 2 levels for example you get a random of 3 bosses and actually one of my favorite bosses is the cyborg b*tch, I just love her mechanics.
Speaking of that, let’s talk bosses and fighting in general. The fighting is pretty standard, you just spam the mouse button to shoot or hold it to infinitely shoot for that matter. You have a button for the flash grenade thingy and also for using items, whenever you want. You can only carry one usable item at a time though, which is kind of a bummer but adds to difficulty, so I like that. Also – now this is the cool thing – there are like 4 empowered attacks, which you unlock after you beat a boss. Personally my favorite ones were the vocalist, which heals you and the cord lady, which just does massive AOE damage. The other two are a guitarist, who does a DOT on everything on the screen and a drummer, who slows down time, which in my opinion was useless as f*uck, but oh well (or maybe it was vice-versa … I don’t know, but you’ll have to forgive my fish brain). I love this, and to top it off, you get like a random one each try, so everything in the game is completely randomized. When you use them they are on a pretty long cooldown, but there are some ways to exploit that. I think, not quite sure, but from what I gathered, I think the cooldown refreshes with each room you do (for example you need a certain amount of completed rooms in order to get the cooldown completely off). A useful thing I did here was when I got vocal and I was very low on HP, I just used her at the start and by the time I got to the next boss she was off cooldown again. Beside that your attacks are the standard projectiles (you know, just a heads up, I know projectiles change color when empowered, but I would have liked if each character had their own projectile color – the standard being blue right now, but that’s just something that would have been cool to see). The different thing from The Binding of Isaac here is that you don’t just shoot up, down, left and right – you can actually aim and shoot wherever you point you mouse to (I’ll skip the usual “I suck at aiming statement”, because for those of you who read my reviews, you already know that). Like I said the bouncing off walls item helped here a lot and just wish the homing one performed a bit better.
Boss battles – man, I loved boss battles. Not only do they become epic, because of the licensed track appointed to them, but also each boss is completely unique. It has its own fighting style, mechanics and the cool thing here is that most of the time you cannot predict what the boss will do. Like you know those games where bosses have set mechanics, but when you die enough times to them you kind of learn what they do. Here the bosses have more chaotic patterns of using their attacks and you can barely predict what they will do. The only way to do that is if you analyze the boss’ animation and that helps a lot trust me – it does help when you get a few seconds of reaction time, but yeah, as I said my favorite boss is the Cyborg, I really loved her dynamic mechanics but to be fair, every boss is unique and you gotta figure out how they tick and you have to play in a different way for each of them. The thing I dislike about bosses though, is their ridiculously high amount of health. Okay, either my damage is sh*t, the bosses’ HP is too high or both. Like seriously, this is so off-putting when the boss battle takes longer than the actual level and you end up dying at the end of it all. What I would suggest is tune down the boss HP a bit or boost the attacks a bit. Even with that attack boost that I got from some items, I was just not feeling it. The only effective ways to take down bosses is if you use the flash grenades on them, which take a massive chunk off their health bar (something like 1/4th or 1/5th) – like even the summoning attack don’t do sh*t to them D: (me is sad). That was my main issue with boss battles, other than that – epic. Other than bosses, the enemy variety was pretty awesome and they get progressively more different and powerful with each level (I really liked the screaming metalhead lady – she rocks), but each one had a pattern and once you learn it, they get easy to tackle … doesn’t mean I didn’t die like an idiot to the f*cking pigeons right after a boss level had left me on a one hit HP …
Final thing before the verdict are missions or quests or whatever. I will complain about them, because they really need an improvement. You get 3 quests total at a time and when you complete one on the next run it will be replaced by a new one. Quests award you … metallium? Okay, sorry, I didn’t remember the name, but basically the currency in game, with which you buy upgrades. You have a variety of upgrades for your HP, DPS, speed, items variety, shopkeeper, etc. All is perfect, except the ridiculous quest-reward system. So far I have done quite a lot of quests and as I see each one awards 20 metallium (I’m gonna keep calling it that, even if it’s not what it was). The problem here is the following. Different quests are not completed in the same amount of time and effort but they all reward the same amount of currency. Let me give you a live example. My 3 quests right now are defeat 1000 metalheads, defeat 500 enemies and complete level 3 (ye, I suck, shut up). The one about the 1000 metalheads I got pretty much at the start of the game, like it was my 2nd or 3rd quest and up to this point I have still not completed it yet … but still it will award me only 20 metallium, compared to let’s say, find a survival room, where you complete the quest just by entering the room … you don’t even have to complete it. And it gets even worse with the amount of metallium upgrades required (this is where the game gets grindy). Two ways could have this been tackled better – either revamp your reward system so that different quests may give different amount of currency or lower the prices a bit. Okay, I will be bluntly honest here. I have reached a point in the game where I need to grind the sh*t out of it to get upgrades in order to progress further, but with the amount of grinding it needs, I don’t really have that time to do it now, so I’ve kind of just reached a platonic state of the game where I just restart and die 2-3 levels into the game, grinding the quests and hopefully improving my dodging skills (which I doubt). That doesn’t mean I’ll stop playing the game, no it’s good, I wanna finish it, but it will take more time than I have present at the moment. Quite frankly this is probably my most major complaint about Metal Tales and if it can be fixed, it can get a higher score.
And now … the verdict. As it is now, Metal Tales is a solid game, earning a 7/10 from me. Honestly, earcandy, eyecandy, all that stuff, the game is just amazing (I need more games like this). But it does need a bit of retweaking from a gameplay point of view, like I mentioned with the items and the questing system, but nothing that can’t be patched up. I had no technical problems with the game and I loved that, ran smooth, no crashes, blah, blah. I can definitely recommend it … big thumbs up, because it’s a nice little side game, but it needs a bit more love from the devs.