Double Kick Heroes - Max
Source: Screenshot capture

Not wasting any time, here’s a Double Kick Heroes review for all you metalheads out there (and rhythm game fans to boot).

Brace your fingers in a devil-like shape; it’s time to mosh to a rhythm game that continually hits the notes when it comes to axe fans. That’s what we knuckleheads refer to a guitar, in case you aren’t initiated. 

Considered a beat ’em up by developers Headbang Club, while under the guise of a rhythm game and also, kinda, survival horror title, you have to guide your band of misfits across the wastelands post-apocalypse.

Double Kick Heroes Review

Double Kick Heroes undoubtedly has the best soundtrack in a game I’ve heard in a long time. It’s on par with the likes of Brütal Legend, and the more recent Valfaris that has bone-crunching licks from a wide range of rock genres.

In a very very short space of time, I binged on the game, jumping straight into the Metal difficulty of the game as anything less would have me down as a wuss. It’s essentially a rhythm game with the same design throughout, only the variety of the music, arguably the most important part of the game, is fantastic and gets full marks.

To be frank, this is a wet dream for most metalheads. Each stage features a snippet from a metal genre taking influences from the likes of Rammstein, Metallica, and so much more. You’ll even see metal legends pop up (their names changed to protect their privacy) – even Danny Trejo.

All the music is exclusive, composed by Elmobo from the dev team. Even the weaker tracks were better than most rock soundtracks in games. I was quite impressed that the Nu-Metal track at the start was better than the majority of the bands from that era, despite being a big KoRn fan and liking Machinehead’s ‘phase’.

Double Kick Heroes - Quack Attack
Quack attack. Source: Screenshot capture

Yeah, this review is mostly being a geek session about music.

There’s a lot of synthwave in there which I like as a genre, but it felt weird in a metal game but surprisingly works really well. There’s something about some of the tracks that have a self-aware Scott Pilgrim vibe too.

Death To All But Metal

Yeah, I’ve overused this sentiment from a Steel Panther track, but with the story, practically all sort of life has died out in the apocalypse other than rockstars. The rest of the world is filled with zombies, sharks, Mad Max-like ruffians and dinosaurs. Yep.

You take a road trip with fellow band members, meeting up with strays along the way (in story mode) and plays out like a road trip with a Full Throttle vibe. It’s like an OutRun map where you manually move to the next checkpoint, drive through a section where you’re chased by the hordes of death while beating one out on the keyboard.

An explanation on that last line: the version I played was on Steam and to play the game you need to hit the keys in time with the music. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of playing with a keyboard as have spent the past decade or more on consoles, but I have to say, the keyboard is so much better.

With the varying difficulty, you either move left and right on the directional keys for the basic parts of the drum, or have to press a couple of other combinations to hit the other elements such as the snare and cymbal. There’s support for a gamepad and additional instruments, but I’m not a musician – the keyboard is fine. 

To clear this up a bit, you play Derek, the drummer. On the back of the car he has a drumkit that has an arsenal built-in; each time you hit the right note, your multiplier will increase, along with an improved weapon, i.e. shotgun and a cannon. Further down the line, you get things like grenades, but if you drop down on the difficulty scale, you won’t see this, nor need it as the challenge is minimal.

Rhythm Ain’t A Dancer

I usually struggle with rhythm games, as I lack rhythm, but with the metal genre, it’s like breathing. I had no problem in relating to the timing in terms of the groove, but by the time I reached the first boss in story mode, I had to switch to an easier level.

Double Kick Heroes - Early score
Note that this is the first level 😉 Source: Screenshot capture

Aside from chipping away at the boss’ health, you still have to fight the legions of doom and move your car out of the way of trouble. There was so much going on, I couldn’t handle it. 

If I hadn’t have been so hasty in selecting the Metal mode, thinking it was the default, I would have realised that it is actually a hard mode, so chuffed I got so far. Here’s a list of the difficulty modes – bear in mind that Metal is hard:

Rock

  • Hard Rock
  • Metal
  • Violence
  • Extreme

So, if you feel you can handle the rock, there’s plenty of challenge throughout. Still, if you find you struggle, you can drop in and out of the numerous levels either by playing the linear Story mode, Arcade for a quick-fire game, a daily challenge with Fury Road which also sports endless rages, and then there’s the Hellgate option.

With Hellgate you can play user-submitted tracks. I made my way through and being mostly a 90s and 00s fan, I didn’t know many of the bands but liked what I heard. I was particularly pleased to see a Gojira track on offer too.

One For The Road

But perhaps the best feature of them all, and to ensure you play Double Kick Heroes for the foreseeable future, there’s an Editor mode where you can customise your own tracks to play in the game.

Unless you wield the axe and wish to upload your own tracks (you can), this is a great opportunity to play some of your favourite songs – giving the illusion that you’re Vinnie Paul or similar.

Double Kick Heroes - Boss
Rex. Source: Screenshot capture

Immediately on offer were the likes of Deftones, Metallica and Sepultura on the playlist, which is my kind of music. The only caveat is you need to own the songs to play them, or at least rip them to MP3.

Back in the day, I had a fair collection, but my rock library is either CDs or Spotify, so unless I rip the discs, there’s no way to play them. I mean, who downloads songs these days, right? Still, this gives an almost endless appeal of customising the game.

Double Kick Heroes Review
9 / 10 Verdict
Pros
  • One of the best soundtracks in a game.
  • Editor feature gives unlimited playability.
  • Lots of variety and challenge.
Cons
  • Headbanging for the wrong reasons as incredibly difficult.
  • The story feels a little like filler at times.
I've been playing Double Kick Heroes on repeat now for a few days intensive, and other than my fingers feeling like I've been shredding, albeit on a keyboard, the 'novelty' hasn't died, and I wholeheartedly recommend this title for metal fans and rhythm fans alike.
Rating

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