Metal Dead Review
Posted by Brooke Fargo
I was never Metal. As a thirteen year old in the 90s, my musical rebellion was switching the car radio dial from classic rock to Spice Girls in front of my Dylan-loving father and declaring “This is the music of my generation”. Safe to say, I wasn’t one of the most radical teens of the 20th Century.
However, I did love playing adventure games. And thank goodness, otherwise I may have awkwardly shuffled away from Metal Dead, taking it as a reminder of another musical genre that escaped me during a misspent youth.
Created by Australian studio, Walk Thru Walls Studios, Metal Dead is a cartoony point-and-click adventure combined with the they-keep-saying-it’s-trending-but-it’s-been-here-for-eight-years zombie genre. (I share the same sentiment for skinny jeans).
Metal Dead doesn’t seek to reinvent the adventure game genre, and it doesn’t need to. It’s ridiculous fun. Following avid metal head, Malcolm, the player walks, quips, and collects their way through a hospital on the verge of being overrun by hordes of zombies.
The player’s different interactive motions are scrolled through via the right mouse button, which I personally found preferable to bringing up a click and hold interaction wheel.
As with any point and click adventure, gameplay is all about making sure the player understands what their situation entails and what they have to work with based on their environment and inventory. Metal Dead succeeds in striking a balance between presenting just the right amount of information so that no solution felt like an inconsistent logical leap and making sure that answers aren’t spoon fed. What was most impressive were the hints setting up future tasks – an offhand comment or entertaining moment that suddenly clicks several levels later for a rewarding player AHA! moment as a solution suddenly becomes clear.
The only place where Metal Dead stumbles in terms of game play is its intro – an unfortunate place to have your weakest moment. Bogged down by slow conversation, direction on what’s expected of the player is not clear enough.
The story in Metal Dead is straightforward, never taking itself too seriously. The player’s main goal is reach a helicopter on the roof of the hospital to escape. A cast of humorous characters, all holed up in the building with Malcolm, spur the plot, their own vices, neurosis, and, on occasion, desires to actually survive the apocalypse, pushing the protagonist forward to explore new areas of the hospital.
The dialog is good for a chuckle, but, as mentioned earlier, I felt the conversations – even the necessary mission-related ones – dragged. Bogged down by a lot of asides and idle chatter, I was losing track of the main point of the conversation. Fortunately, the game does provide a handy heads up in case you do lose track. (That pun was intentional, for those of you who played the game.)
As a side note, I don’t want to say too much about the game’s terrific climax, except, I didn’t expect THAT.
AUDIO - With a title like Metal Dead, only metal music will suffice and the game does deliver that in the form of an 8-bit track. Like any pair of skinny jeans, it fits well to begin with, especially considering the game is paying tribute to the old school adventure genre, but soon begins to wear in the middle, feeling repetitive as the game only has one track. A score redone with by small metal groups looking for exposure would serve this game’s namesake in epic, head-banging fashion.
GRAPHICS – It’s the little visual touches that make Metal Dead especially fun to play. Backgrounds are reminiscent of a page out of Where’s Waldo, providing atmosphere and lots of quaint little touches – like a dead zombie lying in the urinal everyone has to use. Character design, though deceptively simple looking, creates effective caricatures of the different character personalities.
+ Great humour
+ Visually-interesting environments to explore
+ Excels at set-up and pay-off in respect to clues and puzzle solutions
+ Helpful hints and reminders if the player feels lost
+ That ending
- Intro gets off to a rough start
- Conversations often long-winded
- Repetitive soundtrack
Once you get past the awkward start, Metal Dead is a lot of fun to play. Bolstered by its sense of humour and great atmosphere, game play yields lots of rewarding discoveries as the player solves well-delivered contextual puzzles.