Brutally Yours

Brütal Legend is an open-world game obviously, just like every other game released these days. The world it’s set in is what sets it apart from other superficially similar titles, like Viking or GTA. The nameless metal-world which Eddie finds himself in is so deliciously different to anything else that it stands apart from other titles, with seemingly every single part of it inspired by heavy metal album art or rock iconography.

Likewise, the enemies and allies you come across are ripped straight from Double Fine’s twisted interpretations of the hard rock stereotypes. Every facet of metal culture gets represented in the game, from the sexy rock chicks with their slim waists and high-powered cannons to the headbangers with their tyre-thick necks and reinforced skulls which they use to batter enemies with.

It’s the headbangers who make up the footsoldier rank of the game and who are the first force that Eddie liberates for the war against Doviculus and his demon hordes, going so far as to name the army after them – Ironheade, “with an E on the end so that people know we’re serious!

Brütal Legend Review The Devil's Roadie
It's time for a facemelting guitar riff!

It’s this first mission, the liberation of the headbangers, which forms a fairly obvious template for much of the game. Eddie accepts story missions by returning to Ironheade’s headquarters, Bladehenge, and chatting to Lars Halford and Ophelia, the leaders of the movement. After an exchange of witty dialogue Eddie pinpoints what it is that the army needs and then sets out to go and get it.

Running an army isn’t too different to organising a rock concert, according to Eddie. As a career roadie he’s ideally placed to fulfil the needs of the mostly clueless Ironheade, leaving only the charismatic speeches and sexy stares to Lars and Ophelia. Pfft, why is it we always have to do the donkey work?

Most of the main missions are based around introducing Eddie to a new type of enemy or ally, of which there are an impressive number compared to most other third person chop-em-ups. The introductions are just done to help pad out the game or show off either, as later stages of the game introduce a startlingly innovate take on boss fights that sees Eddie literally commanding the entire army and fighting epic battles. When the battle turns against you then success very much relies on being able to tell what units you need and where.

Brütal Legend Review The Devil's Roadie
Using your guitar you can unleash all manner of spells and buffs

Dubbed Stage Battles, these epic fights are the Brütal Legend equivalent of a boss fight and, like everything else, are heavily based around the whole ‘music is magic’ idea. With a stage at either end of the battlefield and the number of fans you have as your build resource, it literally is a battle of the bands, even if the fans in this case are undead spirits that geyser up from the underworld to approve the carnage.

Eddie’s role in these sections of the game is double-barrelled, with the third person perspective encouraging you to get stuck in to the more direct side of the combat, though you’ll still need to spend a lot of time as an overseer rather than a warrior. Remember that Lars is frontman of Ironheade, you’re just the roadie. It’s your job to capture fans by playing rock solos, which are short Guitar Hero-style riffs, to them to convert them and keep a constant flow of the right units on the battlefield, as well as keeping them all on-task by telling them where to go and what to do. As you progress further and the Stage Battles get bigger and more difficult you’ll spend more and more of your time doing this management work though, which makes it more and more annoying that the perspective is third-person rather than top-down.

You do get the ability to fly admittedly, which solves the problem to some extent, but the more we played of the Stage Battles the more we started to feel that there was a slight disconnect between the gameplay and the viewpoint. Not enough to stop us having fun admittedly, but because it was all compounded by the way the controls were condensed onto a gamepad it did make the initial battles a bit daunting.
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November 6 2020 | 17:30

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