If you were arrested by a crack military unit for a crime you didn’t commit, what would you do? Well if you were Jesse Fox and innocent as all heck, you’d put on your best gruff voice, tighten that bandana and break out of whatever the hell military-industrial complex you were been kept in.
Welcome to the world of UnMetal. If you’ve ever wondered what Solid Snake would sound like if he were in a Naked Gun movie, then look no further than UnMetal, the homage to Metal Gear, spoof movies and 80’s and 90’s action entertainment that you didn’t know you needed. And need it you do, because UnMetal is funny as hell and more fun than I thought it would be.
The star of UnMetal is the game’s writing. Mining 80’s and 90’s action movies and television, and then spoofing the hell out of it, is where the game shines indubitably. As Jesse Fox, you’ll be recounting your tale of escape to various people, a story within stories in which Jesse is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Did any of what he says happened, actually happen? That’s one of the game’s big questions as Jesse’s humour laden narrative gets taller and taller the further in you get.
It’s all laid out with a seriousness that is a joke in itself, watching Jesse throw out lines about how he wasn’t about to be killed by a dirty toilet, or using his own intestines as a noose, the game lays on layer upon layer of absurdity that, surprisingly works incredibly well and always amuses. Comedy, as they say, is hard to do, but UnMetal nails just about every aspect of its spoof laden humour.
While the story itself may conform to any number of military themed action games you may have played, the twists come in the journey of getting through the plot. Which is what makes talking about UnMetal’s fantastic joke laden narrative so hard. From a writing standpoint, UnMetal is an experience that’s best enjoyed going in blind so that you don’t have the jokes and absurd situations that Jesse Fox finds (imagines?) himself in ruined. This is one funny game and you really don’t want comedic spoilers, like those movie trailers that show all the best jokes in them.
From a gameplay point, UnMetal is an isometric 2D action game in the vein of Metal Gear and is rather simple. Jesse has a series of standard moves at his disposal: a melee combo, a dodge roll and leaning against a wall, along with an assortment of weapons you’ll pick up throughout the campaign. As the game progresses, the developers throw in extra abilities for Jesse to use though most of these tend to be level based and help to break up the stealth gameplay. You’ll wield a flamethrower in the sewers or pilot a particularly weak submarine as the game progresses. None of these sections get overly complicated, in keeping with the games overall simplicity.
The developers instead use these extra abilities and changes to the level layout and gameplay to mix up the gameplay and, most importantly, work them into the humour. During points in the game you’ll get to choose how the narrative unfolds through some simple choices. Here too the developers subvert expectations as to how the choices you make affect the gameplay. Whether choosing from one of three numbers during a boss fight that can make it harder or easier, to choosing between rats or squirrels in the sewers which leads to a wonderful Benny Hill homage, the game flips what these choices do on its head and helps to provide some extra replayability to the levels. Once you’ve completed a level, you can load it up again from the main menu, but be warned, this will overwrite you’re current save so if you’re still in the campaign, you should wait till you’ve completed it before replaying levels again.
Even simple gamer mistakes, such as forgetting about specific items in your inventory for creating chloroform, are open to jokes. That fire proof suit you picked up earlier? Well forget to use it during a sequence involving jets of fire and your interrogators will want to know why. Mixing up the chloroform? Use it to takedown a guard before applying it to a hankie and you’ll be asked why you didn’t, along with the added benefit of watching Jesse personally react to what chloroform does to you.
Stealth with non-lethal takedowns is how the game has been designed to play. It does make the game slightly more difficult, but the rewards are worth it. Each soldier you neutralise will give you an XP point. But if you’ve been seen before taking said soldier down, you won’t get that point. With every level up, you’ll get to buff Jesse with various skills such as increased health or a dash attack. As well, each game level has secrets hidden in them along with various challenges which range from completing the level to destroying five crates with a single grenade. You don’t have to worry about these, but they just add a little more for you to do in the world.
UnMetal isn’t entirely perfect though. The inventory screen fills up very quickly with a lot of stuff making navigating through it a little time consuming and the sections where you have to pilot a very weak sub or navigate a minefield are a little tedious to get through. But these are small blemishes on what is an otherwise excellent experience.
Developer UnEpic has created an absurd, hilarious tribute to Metal Gear, spoof and action movies that took me completely by surprise. With hilarious writing that constantly had me laughing out loud and solid gameplay that could have easily taken a backseat to the humour, UnMetal is the marriage of gaming and spoof that you didn’t know you needed but definitely deserve. Please sir, could I have some more?
Sound8/10 Very Good
Visuals8/10 Very Good
Story10/10 The Best
- Hilarious writing
- Fun, solid gameplay
- Great pixel visuals
- That landmine section
- Slightly cumbersome Inventory system