by Lord Badger
Unmetal is the brand new stealth action game from developer Versus Evil. Described as a homage to the early Metal Gear games and 80’s action movies. Unmetal really is a hidden gem of a game. Filled with ridiculous humour, quirky game mechanics and a fantastic narrative journey.
You play as Jesse Fox. A badass soldier who was imprisoned by a crack commando team for a crime he didn’t commit! Now facing the task of escaping the prison and his captors Jesse must sneak, craft items, immobilise guards and much more.
From the moment the game begins you are hit with its hilarious tone, stupid situations and weird, yet genius, narrative style. Along the way, Jesse will meet a wide range of cast and characters. Both friend and foe. As he attempts to make it back home to the good ol’ US of A.
Unfortunately during his escape, Jesse uncovers “Project Jericho” a world-threatening plan that is so evil Jesse must put a stop to it!…or just ignore it and escape. After all, this isn’t his war and he was falsely imprisoned.
I strongly believe that if you want to see what AAA games are doing in 3 years time check out indie games are doing today. Unmetal is no exception. Its narrative structure is so unique and fantastic. You are not playing as Jesse Fox escaping the army prison. You are playing as Jesse Fox as he recalls his escape from prison.
The game is actually set as Jesse is handcuffed to a table and being interrogated (occasionally it will also cut to Jesse talking to someone in a car, as he recalls talking to the officer). He was just shot down flying a soviet helicopter and an American military officer wants to who he is, why he was flying a Russian helicopter. As Jesse recalls his tale of daring and escape this is where you come in and take over the action.
This leads to the start of each level just being a blue screen and Jesse. The level then fills him around him as Jesse explains in detail what objects were there, the condition of the ground, weather etc. As Jesse explains each art the level fills in with those details. It is a small, artistic decision at first but one I really love.
Later as you progress through Unmetal you get given choices. Now, these never seem too obvious and sometimes can be obscure. For instance, when walking through a certain room The game pauses as Jesse explains that he suddenly remembered the room contained… Here you are given three choices. I went for SHP. Jesse continues his sentence with 250 sheep! Suddenly the room fills up with 250 sheep and passing through the room is like walking through a swimming pool full of treacle.
These narrative choices lend a certain amount of playability to Unmetal. I want to know what each dialogue choice is and how it affects the game.
The controls in Unmetal are simple and do the job perfectly. The pixel graphics do a great job of invoking nostalgia while Jesse’s personality is such an overblown parody of 1980’s Kurt Russel it will have you laughing every time he is talking.
Jesse Fox is undoubtedly a badass and highly trained killing machine. But that doesn’t mean Jesse has to kill anyone. In fact, it is game over if you do! Taking out guards can be done in multiple ways. You can toss a coin to distract them then run up behind them and knock them out or put them to sleep using a chloroform soaked rag. If you become desperate you can shoot the guards…but then you have to use your medikits to stop them from dying. Since you can only carry 6 medikits, to begin with, this is not a sustainable solution.
I love the fact that this parody of a hyper-masculine 80’s action hero refuses to kill, is committed to stopping climate change ( he refuses to escape in a diesel truck because it is just him and that is an unacceptable reason for causing such excessive pollution) and won’t accept that fighting for your life and escaping prison is a reasonable excuse for littering.
As well as not being able to kill the guards. you will only receive EXP from the guards if they don’t see you. If you alert them then knock them out you can continue on your mission but receive no EXP from them. And since neutralising guards is the only way to gain EXP you really don’t wanna be seen.
Gather another EXP and Jesse will level up and you get to pick one of two upgrades/skills.
As with the greatest games of the late ’80s and early ’90s, every level culminates in a boss battle. These battles are infuriating, rage-inducing affairs. Simply learn the boss attack pattern and attack when possible. They are really simple but you will find yourself dying again and again from stupid human errors.
The variety between bosses is fairly decent too. From machine gunners to giant flying drones, A nuclear submarine to a shouting match, A grenadier hiding behind a ditch full of tentacles and blood-covered spikes that go up and down to a sentient 6 tentacled pile of trash in the sewer.
Unmeatal has a wide range of weird and wonderful bosses to keep you from escaping and possibly launching your controller across the room. Ahhhhhh the nostalgia is just dripping off Unmetal.
Unmetal brings so many different aspects of gaming together so beautifully it is simply perfection. The humour is right up my street. The character of Jesse is so ridiculous and overblown he is fantastic. I would happily watch a Jesse Fox action movie in the cinema. The story is so unbelievable and bizarre I love it!
I simply cannot find anything wrong with Unmetal at all. When you die, and you will die a lot in Unmetal, You are back in the action within secs. Save points are regularly spaced out with autosave points at regular intervals too. The bosses are rage-inducing but I genuinely enjoy that. Well maybe not at the time but it does make the victory oh so much sweeter.
Seriously Unmetal is the best game I have played this year…and it is going to take something incredibly fucking special to stop it from being my game of the year!