Hello all! Last week, I talked about one of the earliest PS2 dungeon crawlers.
This week, I picked a game that's a little different from the usual games I write about. Mostly because it's funny and goofy. Still great, though.
Yep. Brütal Legend is only a few years old, so it's more recent than the games I generally write about. A game by Double Fine (Psychonauts) under the direction of Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango), Brütal Legend casts you as roadie Eddie Riggs (Jack Black). Working for a crappy rap/rock band named Kabbage Boy, Eddie ends up injured, his blood spilling on his belt buckle. Turns out that belt buckle is really an amulet for a mythical beast called Ormagöden, who promptly arises, destroys the stage (and Kabbage Boy) and transports Eddie to another world ripped from the covers of every metal album ever.
Eddie quickly gets caught up in a war against the evil Doviculus (Tim Curry!), and along the way, meets characters voiced by people like Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Rob Halford, and Lita Ford, in addition to a talented cast of professional voice actors.
Brütal Legend plays more or less as a sandbox game with a few wrinkles. You explore the world in the awesome car seen in the screenshot ("The Deuce"), take missions, and fight enemies with an axe. Typically you use simple button combos to dispatch enemies, but you can also play guitar solos on Eddie's guitar, Clementine, to do things like launch lightning attacks or drop a zeppelin of lead on a group of baddies. Just awesome.
The game throws a wrench into the proceedings with Stage Battles. Stage Battles are like real-time strategy events; you build structures, harvest resources (in this case, fans generated from merch booths) and attack the enemy base-er, stage. Like the regular on-foot action, you won't mistake it for a "real" RTS, but the simplicity here works in Brütal Legend's favor.
That's because the focus in Brütal Legend is squarely on the world and atmosphere. Much like Psychonauts before it, the game is more about the story, visuals, world, and characters than the actual gameplay. Brütal Legend plays great, but it's simple. You don't get a complex, Devil May Cry combat system, and the RTS elements are not StarCraft. And that's fine. That's great for Brütal Legend in fact, because I think complex, nebulous gameplay would bog the whole game down.
Why write aboutBrütal Legend? I don't know. I like the game's whimsy. I like it's unwavering dedication to its premise. Brütal Legend tells you "this game takes place in a heavy metal world" and then goes to incredible lengths to immerse you in that world. It's everywhere, from small details like Eddie's Stage Pass to Ozzy upgrading your vehicle. The game doesn't just "cater" to metalheads; rather, it's made by metal fans, for metal fans. It's a game that knows exactly who it's audience is.
The art style and soundtrack are a testament to that belief. As I said, Brütal Legend's visuals, like the entire game, are inspired by metal; specifically, metal album covers and the imagery metal lyrics convey. This means a high fantasy look combined with copious amounts of leather and denim (and, in the case of villain Lionwhyte, hairspray and tights). Most of the time, it's like you're driving around in a Dio album. The art also manages to simultaneously hold onto that "Double Fine look," which means somewhat cartoony and impressively varied character designs. There's not a whole lot of games that look like Brütal Legend, in other words.
The soundtrack is perfect too, with a variety of metal genres on display, past and present. The original score created for the game isn't bad either. You've got Ozzy, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Children of Bodom, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on, and the soundtrack overall is one of the best if you're into metal. If you aren't, I kind of wonder why you read this far.
Anywho, Brütal Legend is awesome. It's not deep gameplay-wise, but it always makes me smile. It's worth a look if you let it pass you by. Or, revisit it, cause it's just so much fun.
Thanks for reading! Chat about Brütal Legend in the comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, catch up with my other article series here, and consider subscribing to my Patreon if you like my stuff!
Next week, I'm writing about an indie game that, like this game I wrote about ages ago, challenges your preconception of who you're playing as.