"some music was meant to stay underground..."

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Nuberu Games - "Metal Tales: Fury Of The Guitar Gods" (Other Products)

Nuberu Games - "Metal Tales: Fury Of The Guitar Gods" Other Products cover image

Reviewed by on November 29, 2016

"Moreso even than Brutal Legend, this game is all about championing the underground, featuring original music from a slew of unknown bands we've been covering at Metalunderground.com for years"

It's still vexing to me that there aren't more explicitly heavy metal-themed video games. The number is abysmally low: there's the Castlevania-esque platformer Slain, and the genre-bending gold standard Brutal Legend... and honestly that's about it.

A handful of other games like Guilty Gear or Splatterhouse feature metal soundtracks, but not many of them are actually crafted around any of the heavy sub-genres of music.

Last year we ran a four-part series covering the sparse options available, and now finally a new title gets added to that list – Metal Tales: Fury Of The Gods!

Moreso even than Brutal Legend, this game is all about championing the underground, featuring original music from a slew of unknown bands we've been covering at Metalunderground.com for years, like Despite, Striker, and A Breach Of Silence.

Any metal fan won't be disappointed with the soundtrack, that's for sure. I was particularly delighted to see a section in the main menu showcasing each band that contributed music, along with a bio and links of where to find music from those groups.

So, music aside, what's going on with Metal Tales? The backstory is provided via a comic book presentation, when the intense passion of metal heads is converted into despair by an evil god who takes the stage at a live show and works some serious magic. All those metal fans are now walking zombies who need to be returned to their original forms through the power of heavy metal!

On the gameplay front, Metal Tales is a top-down "roguelike" (remember that Smash TV NES game or the top-down Contra levels?) with some bullet hell aspects that gets more difficult the further into the map you go. The levels are also procedurally generated, so you'll get a different experience each time you die and start over, which will be fairly frequent. At the start there are two characters to choose from, with more to be unlocked the further into the maze-like levels you venture.

Likewise, there's permanent upgrades to buy that remain with your character across playthroughs like a power slide attack, as well as consumables like exploding amps and extra guitar pick health.

While the game can be played successfully single player (and I've been having a blast doing so), its clearly meant to be a co-op experience with your fellow metal heads, since you can revive fallen team mates and more easily tackle bosses. Speaking of enemies, there's a decent variety present between normal baddies, damaging terrain obstacles, trap rooms, and huge bosses with varying tactics.

Honestly I was a little worried about the formula getting stale after a few areas, especially coming from an indie developer I'd never heard of before, but that's not the case here at all. Each enemy type behaves different - some charge you, some hang back and fire ranged, some will break through obstacles and others can be herded, and so on. It's all very fast paced, so the end result is a pulse-pounding experience, of course aided by the soundtrack.

Whether solo or co-op you're going to die quite a bit in the beginning, having to unlock skills over time and buy upgrades at the various shops, until eventually you'll be armed well enough to hit the later levels.

Considering its a first-effort from Nuberu Games, Metal Tales is a surprisingly polished game that scratches that retro itch. There's tons of little flourishes added in that complete the experience, like how when you go to the menu screen the music gets muffled as though you walked into the bathroom at a live show.

Alright, I've sung its praises, now for the negatives - what's the catch? Although polished, Metal Tales isn't perfect, and in particular it could use some more in-game prompts. I had literally no idea what several items did until buying some after dying and then manually checking the controls in the menu screen. While there, I also discovered you can use screen clearing amp bombs, which is super helpful. There are some areas that also clearly require a different type of attack to break through and get at hidden objects, but no indication of what is needed or how to access them.

Those couple of learning curve issues aside that could easily be remedied with a patch, Metal Tales is a fast-paced good time for fans of old school roguelikes or heavy metal in general. Want to give it a shot? You can grab the game at Steam here for PC!

Highs: Fast paced and polished fun that's great solo or co-op, and the soundtrack is excellent

Lows: There need to be a few tweaks made, especially with in-game prompts explaining how systems work

Bottom line: Underground metal bands finally get their due in this excellent retro bullet hell game

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)