When it comes to entertainment that aims to pay homage to a certain something, the indie title UnMetal certainly delivers in that area. Developer @unepic_fran definitely adores the classic action tropes, and he takes it to another level with ridiculous humor. The 2D stealth satire title had me laughing from the dialogue, but the agitating gameplay might turn some players away. Nonetheless, UnMetal is worth the purchase and time thanks to some amazing elements and the main character, Jesse Fox. Here’s our review for UnMetal.
Indie title UnMetal will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam, Epic Games Store, and GOG on September 28. This review was done on PC. The game’s development comes from indie creator @unepic_fran, with publishing by Versus Evil.
The Name’s Fox, Jesse Fox
UnMetal follows the parody-filled adventure of a commando named Jesse Fox, who becomes a prisoner after a crime he didn’t commit. Trapped within a military compound, Fox must find his way out. But there seems to be much more at stake than a simple arrest. From what appears to be a standard outset of espionage quickly unfolds into a satire of action movie and game concepts. With almost anything remotely useful at his disposal, Jesse Fox must use his wits and fists to get to the bottom of the situation.
That alone should be the reason to check out UnMetal and Jesse Fox. The game’s writing is fantastic to get lost in. There are so many meta moments that I would look away from the screen with a chuckle and a smirk. The dialogue is pretty ingenious, oftentimes flipping its own expectations in favor of committing to something more hysterical. One good example is Jesse Fox’s agitating expression on his inability to see every detail around him because it’s a top-down game. Or, a pivotal moment where Jesse runs into a doctor; he asks him to turn around slowly, but the doctor cannot since everyone turns at 90 degrees. He then proceeds to turn twice to follow Jesse’s orders.
The story is just a damn good time to be involved with. The supporting cast does an awesome job of bringing the jokes a step further due to their different reactions to Jesse’s efforts. UnMetal‘s writing is probably the game’s most rewarding aspect. If you thought the cat joke from the trailers was hilarious, there’s way more in store within the game’s narrative.
A Pain in the Fox
UnMetal‘s gameplay elements are mostly derived from retro action games, most notably Metal Gear Solid. It is, in fact, one of @unepic_fran’s favorite games, so you get much of that familiarity with this title. And while it’s great to see how the developer can twist the action encounters into a laugh, I did find the overall gameplay to be frustrating.
UnMetal suffers from an aggravating issue many games face these days, in that the player will see the Game Over screen repeatedly until they figure out the game’s pattern on completion. It also applies to unfair combat balance as well; the player needs to hit their enemy an X number of times while their opponent can easily kill them with just a few strikes. UnMetal not only suffers from these issues, but also from a severe lack of fun.
Due to the repetitive deaths, I found myself rinsing and repeating stages until I figured out what I had to do. In some moments, I couldn’t figure out how to move on to the next room if I didn’t have the right equipment. And while some equipment is pretty straightforward (a rad suit for a radiation room, for example), you need to combine certain items in order to advance. There’s one extremely frustrating encounter with a soldier who will kill you if you don’t choose the right answer in the dialogue. I kept dying, even when I tried out every answer. It wasn’t until I looked around for whatever random item was needed to finally get to the next room.
Down with the Gameplay
I just didn’t have a good time with the gameplay. Sure, the mechanics are intentionally amusing, with some of its blueprints taking inspiration from Metal Gear Solid. But when you find yourself constantly dying for the most preposterous reasons, some of the experience can die down. I’m sure there’s an audience who can tolerate this level of patience – especially the roguelike crowd who are used to seeing death on their screen.
It’s not all so bad, however. I definitely got a kick out of knocking enemies down and hiding their bodies away to avoid detection. Slipping through the shadows felt engaging, providing enough confidence to study your enemy before making the next move. And there are a few stages that act like rudimentary puzzles to spice up the gameplay. Unfortunately, the overall gameplay was disappointing and can be unfair during several moments; you’re probably better off playing on Easy if you wish to avoid stress in your life.
The Sound of UnMetal
Despite the disappointing gameplay patterns, UnMetal is wonderful to look at and listen to. The pixel art is a joy to look at, with great little details painted to bring the world to life. I recommended going into your settings to unlock the 60 FPS threshold to get the full experience. Everything just looks both modern and nostalgic, a solid combination of mixing in the old school with the new.
The audio is also very crisp and clean. With good voice actors (especially Andrew Miller as Jesse Fox), perfected SFX, and enjoyable background music, UnMetal serves up a fine dish of technical indie care. After spending a good amount of time with Jesse Fox, I can say that I didn’t run into any bugs. Nothing seemed out of place, and there were rarely any breaks in the audio. You can tell that the developer took excellent care of the game, having no glitches to break the action.
UnMetal is a great indie game that excels in satirical storytelling and art commitment. Playing as Jesse Fox easily reminded me of the likes of Kung Fury infusing with the elements from Metal Gear Solid. It’s one fun ride that I enjoyed following along with; I know some of the jokes are going to stay with me for a bit. But since the gameplay can potentially hinder the best possible experience, some players might not favor the repeated death sickness. Despite the troubling gameplay, the game features a hilarious narrative with a memorable protagonist who flips the action script. With awesome indie-inspired pixel art, clean sound mixing, and enough jokes to make you cackle, UnMetal is worth the stress in favor of a good time.
- Laugh out loud writing and satire
- Good story
- Jesse Fox is a great protagonist
- Supporting characters and NPCs are worth your money
- Pixel art is awesome
- Sound and music feel perfected
- Solid voice cast
- Stealth works nicely
- Zero bugs
- Gameplay can be incredibly frustrating
- Disappointing action scenarios
- Lack of accessibility options