Before playing EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match!, from RedDeer Games, do some warm-up exercises for your neck and fingers: there’s lots of headbanging and button mashing. You have been warned.
Essentially a quick-fire party brawler, you’ll choose from one of four demon-like avatars, then fight to the death in some dastardly arenas with a Hell flavour. There are three realms but no game modes other than a free-for-all, so don’t expect lots of content.
Short reviews usually symbolise something that could be labelled a big festering turd, but on the contrary, it can also mean that there’s not that much to talk about. The theme – heavy metal – is music to my ears (ha!). It didn’t take much to get excited, but I have to say that the visuals worked well, too.
They’re a mixture of Samurai Jack, Speedrunners, and Super Meat Boy aesthetics: simple and bold, and they pop on the big screen. While you can play EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match! in handheld mode, the sprites are pretty small, and as it’s a little frantic, I’d recommend playing on a large screen. You need to, as this may as well be an exclusive multiplayer.
Though solo options are available with bots filling the remaining three spaces, it’s not much to write about. It’s the first to three wins without any modes other than the last one standing. Out of the four characters, they all play the same, though look very different, come rigged with elemental attacks, and are well animated. Note that the elements are cosmetic only.
All the actions are the same. You’re free to run around the arena, wall-jumping and dashing to avoid incoming attacks and the numerous environmental hazards. At your disposal is a ranged attack where you can fire up to three shards. Holding down the attack when your ammo is full unleashes a charged shard, plus there are also special drops. Oh, and as EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match! is a twin-stick shooter, you aim with the right stick, though it’s 8-directional.
The pacing is pretty good as it’s rare that a match will be quiet as each arena throws many challenges your way, such as molten lava or spikey things. Occasionally these will trigger an instant death, but depending on the object, and if an enemy shard hits you, you do have a chance to resurrect yourself by mashing the charge/headbang button. Your soul will slowly return to your grave, and you can continue.
Interestingly, you can hold out in a match and win last-minute by returning to your body before whoever else is left. Note that the more deaths you experience, the faster your soul will disappear. Perhaps that autofire controller may just come in handy after all? Additionally, you’ll be headbanging – not just to the metal tracks – but to replenish ammo. There are no ammo drops, so you press the headbang button to refill your shards while trying to survive.
With three ‘realms’ and multiple arenas, there are a lot of maps to play but other than selecting the realm, they’re random. There aren’t any additional modes – not even filler like galleries or options to change the difficulty or customise the characters; it’s all very light. That said, the gameplay is enjoyable in short bursts, but there’s no point playing this solo. It’s as simple as that.
There are no campaigns, narratives, unlocks or additional characters – EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match! is ready ‘out of the box’, and you’re likely only to play this when you have friends around. Up to four players can play, but I could only manage a two-player, which was relatively short-lived. In fact, we ended up putting on the PS5 and playing Rubber Bandits instead.
A cool soundtrack, excellent visuals and responsive gameplay are the standouts, but EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match is bare-bones and one of those party games that might be on the setlist of a get-together, but due to the lack of content, not likely to be a game you’ll play on repeat. It’ll stay in your library, though as it’s very much pick up and play without faffing about like other titles.