Even though one of the loudest clubs of my youth is no more, metal music is far from dead. Just like the demise of Sierra and the sad Star Wars-fueled downward spiral of Lucasarts never really spelled the end of the adventure game as a popular genre and a quality alternative to the mindless, militaristic shooting of things, heavy metal is still happily around. And no, I’m neither talking about that Kickstarter thing nor about Brutal Legend. I’m talking about Metal Dead.
My dear reader shouldn’t be surprised to find out that Metal Dead (by shiny, new indie developers Walk Thru Walls) is indeed a 2D point-and-click adventure created with AGS. We both, after all, do love a good adventure and Metal Dead is a very good one indeed. And it feels fresh and funny too.
Metal Dead is, you see, the closest we’ve come to the brilliance of Maniac Mansion since, well Maniac Mansion. It’s the Shaun of the Dead of adventure gaming. It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on the zombie genre that’s more surreal and smart than an open, and usually clumsy, parody. It’s odd, smart, funny, delightfully weird and capable of taking the tired zombies theme and turning it into something smart and quirky (admittedly with a little help from heavy metal music and the assorted stereotypes).
The game, a very traditional inventory-based and dialog-driven point-and-clicker, manages to masterfully weave the essentially non-violent and slow paced nature of the adventure game around an action-packed and ultra-violent theme, while impressively maintaining the light-hearted and surreal feel of the finest of Lucasarts and Sierra offerings. Happily, the blood-splattered humorous feel is also to be found in the game’s puzzles, which, though generally easy, are logical, well integrated and actually fun.
Though pretty short (stopping the zombie apocalypse shouldn’t take more than 5 hours), Metal Dead stays refreshingly silly and engaging throughout and never outstays its welcome, while constantly offering a response for absolutely anything you might think of doing and, of course, something surreal to do. You’ll be talking with the severed zombified head of your best mate (an ingenious hint system), killing zombies, saving doctors, unlocking hilarious achievements and murdering mutated cannabis plants, all the while combining items, engaging in brilliant dialogues and even guessing passwords.
On the audiovisual side of things, well, things are simple but effective. There is no voice-over and only a few tracks of music, but you’ll probably never complain. Imagining the sound of the characters’ voices is something I always enjoyed… Oh, and I do quite love the graphics. Simple, clean, unique and very expressive.
Verdict: You’ll love the bloody humor. You’ll love the plot. You’ll love the characters. You’ll love the puzzles. You’ll love the price. Buy it.