By Leah McDonald / September 3rd, 2020
|Title||Double Kick Heroes|
|Publisher||Headbang Club, Hound Picked Games, Kakehashi, WhisperGames, Plug In Digital|
|Release Date||Aug 13, 2020|
|Genre||Rhythm, Shooting, Zombie Apocalypse|
|Platform||Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, GOG, Humble Store, Itch.io|
Zombies are overrunning the streets, terrible monsters are wrecking havoc, and the world as we know it has crumbled into a hellscape. What is a group of metal heads with a Gundillac to do? Kill anything and everything that moves, obviously, and do it in the most metal fashion possible. That’s the simple but effective premise of Double Kick Heroes, a heavy metal rhythm title from Headbang Club.
The game follows the trappings of zombie horror pretty faithfully. We’ve got our ragtag group of unorthodox heroes – in this case, guitarists Randie and James, keytarist Snake, drummer Derek, and driver Lincoln. Individually, most of the group is pretty forgettable (Lincoln’s obsession for President Lincoln notwithstanding), but together they’re a crass and vulgar bunch. Their love of metal keeping them together when the world around them falls apart. It helps that their Gundillac, Sheila, is equipped with the latest and best weapons, all precision tied to Derek’s drum kit for the most death metal of all death metal sessions.
Gameplay is relatively straightforward. You control the various guns on the Gundillac using precise button presses to the music, which scrolls horizontally across the bottom of the screen. Alternate using the upper and lower guns (which default on the Xbox One controller to B and A, respectively), throw grenades by hitting the R bumper, and snipe using the L bumper. All of these controls can be remapped to your heart’s content, however, which was a welcome addition when I found myself needing to hold the Xbox controller sideways to keep up. Where the difficulty comes in is juggling between the various weapons to a plethora of high-tempo, high-note songs. The difficulty curve doesn’t really exist in Double Kick Heroes. You’re introduced to the main alternating guns, then learn about grenades. The tutorial song for grenades is pretty simple rhythmically, but after that the game ramps right back up with no real progression. It became far less challenging than outright frustrating. The game also suffered from overly-long loading screens, and twice crashed on me during scene transitions.
The game features five different difficulty levels, though those come with their own issues. The easiest difficulty removes grenades altogether, which makes for monotonous gameplay, while normal mode suffers from an uneven difficulty curve. I am not a rhythm game novice by any means, but this game’s difficulty seriously threw me for a loop. DKH does offer a robust selection of options to make the game more accessible, though, including outright removing monsters entirely or turning off scoring so you can just jam to your heart’s content. I found that feature particularly great, because the music in this game is phenomenal, and any chance to just sit back and enjoy some truly memorable metal tunes sits right by me.
I spent roughly three hours with Double Kick Heroes, which was enough time to finish the story mode and play around a little with the game’s features and arcade mode. The story itself is pretty standard post-apocalypse fare, with the added benefit of having a really pleasing art design reminiscent of MTV-era metal and hard rock album covers. The characters are colorful and fun to look at, and some of the bosses are straight up visually striking to the point it feels a shame you can’t really focus on them while playing. The demon train in particular comes to mind for me. I also love this hellscape of a world Headbang Club has designed, with flaming towers, broken cities, and really inventive monsters. (Also deadly rabbits in Europe, which any Monty Python fan should instantly recognize.) And while the story itself is somewhat forgettable, I really appreciated a lot of the pop culture and video game references the game offers, including my absolute favorite exchange, which you can see below.
Double Kick Heroes also boasts the ability to upload your own songs, which is a neat little feature. The 30 original songs in the game are, and I cannot stress this enough, fucking bangers, but the option to upload your own tunes and create an original level is pretty awesome. It’s also a feature I did not personally play around with.
I wanted to like my time with Double Kick Heroes more than I did. It’s got a great soundtrack, memorable aesthetic, and a fun concept in a rhythm shooter. Playing the game tended to be more frustrating and physically uncomfortable for me than fun, however, even taking advantage of the numerous options available. For metal fans, this game is a must-play, if only for the ear worms, and I would suggest rhythm fans check it out if they want a challenging, albeit frustrating, title. That being said, I think I’d rather just listen to the soundtrack.
Double Kick Heroes is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, GOG, Humble Store, Itch.io for $21.99.
Double Kick HeroesHeadbang ClubReviewrhythm actionrhythm gamesShooterzombies