UnMetal is a 2D stealth action game heavily inspired by the original Metal Gear Solid titles. There’s a simple plot which is referenced a lot – you have to escape from an enemy base where you were imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit.
Developed by UnEpic Fran and published by Versus Evil, you play as Jesse Fox who finds himself imprisoned in a covert military base. You have to find or create a variety of gadgets to progress you attempt to escape.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks that occur during conversations. This type of narrative is clever. Throughout you will get to choose your own adventure, changing the story as it is played. Some consequences are stupid but others can make progress a lot harder. For example, you will be in a sewer and have to choose whether or not there are rats present. If you say no, Jesse narrates a very random alternative which I must admit is funny and worth picking. Having Jesse be an unreliable narrator brings a lot of replay value in trying different outcomes. But some options have more gameplay impact, even changing how a boss fight will go.
The inspiration from old school Metal Gear games is clear from the outset. From a top-down view, you will have to stealthily fight your way through each level. You are pretty much forced to sneak around and you go undetected to take out enemies. Each time you successfully do this you will receive XP, which allows you to level up, be more powerful and gain skills to help you on your adventure. You can be aggressive, but you chances are you get caught, they call for backup, you get overwhelmed and die.
You can combine items to make different types of equipment. The inventory system can be very clunky at times which is frustrating. You can also pick up weapons or items to help you, like guns and chloroform. Because it’s a stealth game and they don’t want you to kill people you can shoot people and then heal them, which keeps them from dying but they stay knocked out. After all, you are playing a good guy!
The boss encounters offer tons of variety so nothing feels repetitive. All are pretty unique and you will have fun fighting them. Even on normal difficulty most of the bosses are a challenge. As a result, you may die a few times before you find the right strategy for success. But the battles are fun in their own right and you have to change the way you play sometimes.
The level designs are well thought-out and each feels like they put in some great work to perfect them. There are lots of levels to play and your journey will be long. They were clever with the areas they selected and the retro visuals are very appealing with pleasantly styled objects and environments.
But, where UnMetal really excels is its humour. They crack loads of jokes right from the start and takes the piss out of the genre and game itself. Yes, some jokes you won’t like or don’t think work, but for others they will hit the spot.
The voice acting is also excellent. Pretty much every character is voiced and each voice fits the character. The music is brilliant too and fits the genre / MGS vibes well. It seems they put a lot of effort into making it right and having the right theme.
UnMetal is a love letter to old school Metal Gear with a comedic twist. It excels in stealth and you will enjoy yourself though each of the levels. There’s nothing I would change or feel is missing in my opinion. It’s definitely one of the best indie games I have played this year.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.