Sometimes a video game has all the right ingredients but simply belongs to the wrong genre, and such was the case with Brütal Legend, a game which was almost the perfect action adventure title had it not resorted to pad out its design in the most counter-intuitive way possible. Brütal Legend was born from the mind and inner heavy metal fan Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions, revered among Xbox gamers in particular for the cult classic Psychonauts.
As far as production values go Brütal Legend literally had it all, promising to make it the ultimate video game for heavy metal aficionados. Everything about the game’s presentation, be it the art, design, story, world, or characters, was directly influenced by the heavy metal genre and subculture. This wasn’t the case of a loose tribute either, as Brütal Legend scored some huge licenses in being able to fully utilize the entirety of mainstream heavy metal fandom for its own creative vision. This was clearly a game made by metal heads for metal heads, and is still worth experiencing and owning just for the music and presentation alone. Any proud member of the metal militia will still find this to be a cool collectible, gamer or non-gamer.
The curated soundtrack was practically the who’s who of metal legends: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer, and even underground metal legend, Diamond Head. For those belonging to the United Kingdom, the absolute best of British rock and metal were proudly represented in Brütal Legend, and not just in the soundtrack. This game created a buzz because the very metal artists behind the soundtrack were featured as charming virtual recreations, authentically voiced by the artists themselves. The cast featured some huge names from British rock with the likes of Ozzy, Rob Halford, and Lemmy lending their voice to bring their characters to life. The voice acting was brilliant too, you could easily tell each of the metal legends had a great time bringing their respective digital selves to life.
The lead protagonist, Eddie, was voiced by non-other than Jack Black, which honestly was a perfect fit for the character. Who better to portray a fan of metal music than the biggest metal fan-turned-metal satirical artist. Much like his Tenacious D band, Jack Black brought his enthusiasm and personality to make Eddie the most badass metal fan imaginable. However, given all the praise for the music, premise, presentation, and performance, it was especially disappointing that Brütal Legend did not garner the same praise for its core gameplay and game design.
Brütal Legend started out by introducing some pretty simple but effective combat mechanics, but soon enough players got bogged down into the nitty gritty of the game’s tower defence design, suddenly finding themselves trapped in an absolute slog of RTS battles. To introduce a strategic tower defence design for a game geared towards metal heads is perhaps the most counter-intuitive choice imaginable. Did they really expect metal veterans to stop and think whilst Children of the Grave was blasting in the back?
Brütal Legend wasn’t necessarily a bad tower defence experience at all, as it in fact had enough action and excitement for some cool moments. Still, given the impressive set up of the premise along with the superb presentation and musical influences, it was a real buzzkill to get stuck into lengthy RTS battles when all you wanted to do was rock out with your… well you know how that Motorhead song goes.
Brütal Legend is still available to purchase on Xbox 360 and PS3. If you wish to pick up a copy, get over to the Xbox Store or nab a physical copy from Amazon. You can play it on Xbox One via Backwards Compatibility too.