Metal Tales: Overkill pushes an aesthetic and attitude that doesn't do enough to make up for an unremarkable twin-stick shooting experience.
Title: Metal Tales: Overkill
Release Date: April 21, 2022
Suggested Audience Age: Rated M for Mature by the ESRB
Time to Play: About an hour for a successful run
Availability: Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, Steam
Recommended for fans of: Metal Soundtracks, Twin-Stick Shooting, and Dungeon Crawling
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Metal Tales: Overkill has one of the coolest-looking icons on my Switch. Every time I’m skimming my library looking for a game to play I see it and just think, “Hell yeah, that looks metal as hell”
Unfortunately, the icon is the best thing about the game.
I’ve come across a lot of twin-stick rogue-lite games, and the gameplay of Metal Tales: Overkill doesn’t do much to freshen up that genre. Each run of the game has you exploring a series of dungeons from a top-down perspective. The dungeons are made up of a variety of rooms, mostly just full of enemies. There are also shops, trap rooms, a challenge room that launches waves of enemies at you, and eventually a boss.
You move around with the left analog stick while aiming projectiles with the right as you take out enemies and pick up upgrades and currency and… it’s just exactly what you’d expect if you’ve played Hades or Dandy Ace or Enter the Gungeon, except a little blander.
Action rogue-lite games shine because of how the gameplay evolves over the course of a run depending on what upgrades, items, or skills you find on your procedurally generated runs. Metal Tales: Overkill completely misses the mark on that idea.
There is loads of stuff to pick up, but most of them don’t really make a huge difference. There are coins, healing items, and temporary health boosts, which are functional but pretty boring. Then there are usable items, which do things like temporarily making your attacks more powerful or transporting you to the store in your current dungeon. Again, they are fine… but they don’t really change how you engage with the game.
Different guitars can be picked up to change how you attack. Some shoot fast, weak bullets while others shoot out a spread of bullets at a slower pace. These make the biggest change to gameplay but are also super rare. There are smaller upgrades that might make your attacks faster or bigger, but the difference is so small that snagging them isn’t very exciting. The fact that the game gives almost no explanation of what the gear does makes it even worse.
The Metal of it All
The thing that let me down the most about Metal Tales: Overkill is that it just doesn’t feel very metal. The story, levels, and character designs are all built around that concept, but most of the enemies are so small that you don’t really get to appreciate them.
On top of that, the metal theme doesn’t really feel like it’s part of the gameplay at all. Sure, your weapon is a guitar, but you attack by just pushing a button and having energy bolts shoot out of it. You can drop an amp for an area of effect attack, but it’s just like an explosive in any other game. When you beat a boss you free a member of your band who you can summon for help, but they just sort of damage enemies.
The metal tunes throughout are good. Unfortunately, this game doesn’t pull the music into the gameplay the way that Crypt of the NecroDancer or Metal: Hellsinger do. This feels like a twin-stick rogue-lite with a metal coat of paint over it, rather than a metal game.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Metal Tales: Overkill. Probably more time than it seems like I should have based on this unenthusiastic review. But the truth is that for its lackluster gameplay and disconnected theme it’s still kind of fun. I absolutely don’t hate this game, I just wish that it did everything it does just a little bit more.
If Metal Tales: Overkill was an early access game, I would be super interested in seeing its progress. Since it’s been out on Steam for over a year, however, I think there are a lot of better games on Switch that scratch a similar itch.
Geek to Geek Rating: 2 out of 5
Oh, also, the load times on the Switch are embarrassingly long. Like ridiculously long. And for some reason, they give you a percentage instead of just saying loading and it always freezes somewhere in the 90% range for what feels like an eternity.