(Editor’s note: let’s face it, most metalheads are bunch of nerds. To that end, Hallowed Be Thy Game is a weekly feature here on MetalSucks where we’ll be highlighting some of the board/video role-playing games /metal table as shit games we play or have played in the past.)
As a lifelong player and metalhead, there have been very few times when the Venn diagram of these two passions has become one circle. Of course, some games can be metal, but very few actually are metal. Few talk about our absolute love of music – in fact, few developers even really understand what heavy metal is and what it means to people like you and me.
So when Tim Schafer (no relation to Jon Schaffer) and his company Double Fine Productions announced they were making a video game that paid homage to heavy metal in all its forms, I was thrilled. When brutal legend finally came out in October 2009, I was excited but unprepared for how much metal a video game could actually get.
For those who weren’t there or didn’t know, brutal legend was seen by non-metalheads as simply an action/role-playing game in an era when there were so many third-person action RPGs. But this one was different. In this game, you play as a roadie wearing a combat vest, carrying a mule, and dragging cigarettes named Eddie Riggs, who is voiced by Jack Black. The dude yearns for the days of old school metal but is stuck managing the onstage happenings of what looks like an awful nu-metal band called Kabbage Boy. It’s just… bad.
Luckily, we aren’t subjected to their music for long, as the band are killed in an onstage incident and an unconscious Riggs is transported to a magical world where heavy metal rules and every sight is worthy of an album cover. .
Right off the bat, you’re faced with the biggest and most important aspect of this game: the soundtrack. The first time you take control of Eddie Riggs, you’re tasked with killing a bunch of murderous cultists. It’s nothing new in a game like this, but what is new is the fact that you do it on Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”.
Throughout the game, you’re never far from hearing a piece of badass metal. While driving through the desert, you might be playing “Am I evil?” by Diamond Head one minute, then the next moment you’re tearing it up as Emperor’s “This Spake The Nightspirit” blares across your TV screen. The soundtrack is expansive, spanning several decades and spanning many subgenres of metal. It’s obvious that only a metalhead like Tim Schaffer could have come up with the track listing since it’s so meticulously put together.
Getting back to the game, Riggs slays demons, teams up with head-banging warriors, and meets some interesting characters to aid him in his quest to help destroy the demons plaguing the land. And that’s another area where the game shows its love for metal on its sleeve. Some of the most important characters are voiced by some of the most important people in metal and rock. We’re talking about Lemmy Kilmister, Lita Ford, Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford. Hell, the voices of Halford of them characters. It’s such a trip from speeding through a lava-filled area in your inflated hot rod to being face to face with a digital likeness of Ozzy a second later.
And while the second half of the game goes off the rails a bit with a sudden change in gameplay, brutal legend never lose sight of the metal. I could go on and on about the plot, characters, music, settings, really everything, but it’s just easier if you check it out yourself.
brutal legend is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC via Steam and other online marketplaces. It’s also on Xbox Game Pass for consoles, so no reason not to try it out if you’re a subscriber!