The Metal Gear series is one of my favourite gaming franchises of all time. Admittedly, that love came following the release of Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation, but I also played through (and enjoyed) the original MSX titles too. Naturally then, I was drawn to UnMetal – the new release from developer @unepic_fran and publisher Versus Evil that acts as a comedic homage to those original Metal Gear titles.
Some comedy-style games don’t always hit the mark though, whether that’s by not actually being all that funny or simply not being much fun to play. Thankfully, UnMetal manages to deliver an experience that didn’t only have me genuinely chuckling out loud at times, but that also delivers fun gameplay that’s very… well… Metal Gear-like in design.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
UnMetal puts players in the role of Jesse Fox, who I’d like to say is a top-class spy who’s going to take down a malicious enemy, but is actually an innocent bloke who has found himself arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Typical, right? What follows is an adventure that brings with it plenty of comical turmoil as Jesse tries to bring a stop to a world-threatening war… or so he says. Everything is told from his perspective after the events have actually taken place, so you can imagine that things might have been slightly skewed to make him look like the ‘hero’ he wants to be.
I don’t want to go into depth about what makes UnMetal’s narrative so good, because honestly, it’s packed to the brim with humorous situations and wild scenarios that kept a big smile on my face throughout… spoiling them here would just deter from the experience. It brings with it plenty of cool easter eggs that fans of the Metal Gear series are sure to appreciate too, whilst it also acknowledges other aspects of pop culture in plenty of fun ways. It’s just a really well written adventure that blends together outright silliness with genuinely clever moments, ensuring the laughs are never cheap but instead thoughtfully delivered.
“I don’t want to go into depth about what makes UnMetal’s narrative so good, because honestly, it’s packed to the brim with humorous situations and wild scenarios that kept a big smile on my face throughout.”
Gameplay-wise, UnMetal plays in a very similar vein to the original Metal Gear games, with players sneaking through different areas, defeating enemies, and occasionally solving puzzles or completing one of the set-pieces that Jesse Fox speaks into existence. That last one might sound a little confusing, but it’s part of the storytelling – our hero is telling the story, after all, with his bold claims typically tying into gameplay and challenging the player in different ways. There’s a lot of player choice with these too, with your answer changing up the scenario in various ways. I won’t spoil too much here, but you can expect some outlandish results that don’t ALWAYS match up with the choice you made (and I mean that in a good way).
Whether it’s when facing off against a tentacled monster in the sewers, battling Vikings, or finding sheep slowing you down, your choices in the game can be pivotal. Again, that sentence probably won’t make a lot of sense, but it will if you play the game. It added a heck of a lot more personality to the experience though and ramped up the silliness in a fun and meaningful way.
The puzzles require the use of items found in the environment, which can give UnMetal an almost point-and-click adventure vibe at times. It’s often a case of simply finding the right item to use in the right place (or even combining them to make a new item), with a bit of logical thinking also required to solve each puzzle. They’re a neat addition that aren’t too testing, though you can also make a radio call for a hint if you do find yourself wondering what you need to do.
“Whether it’s when facing off against a tentacled monster in the sewers, battling Vikings, or finding sheep slowing you down, your choices in the game can be pivotal.”
That being said, there were a few instances where the puzzles could be a bit annoying. Sometimes, it’s never made fully clear what exactly you need at any given time, with the result being a lot of deaths before you succeed. That same kind of obtusity was present in the original Metal Gear games so it’s fitting in a way, but I would rather not have had to deal with it. With fail-states actively tied to puzzling though, simple trial and error doesn’t always work.
Of course, you’ll also have to defeat enemies in the game, with stealth actively encouraged. It’s a game based on Metal Gear, what would you expect? You do have the tools to kill, but taking the silent approach will ensure guards aren’t alerted and called to your area too, which is always a plus. Admittedly, the aiming could be a little clumsy in-game, so taking enemies out up close and dragging their body out of view was also more satisfying from a gameplay perspective.
Perhaps more important is the fact that you gain experience points when defeating enemies with stealth, with different skills learnt when levelling up. It’s a surprisingly robust system too, with things such as faster healing, a faster movement speed, regenerating health, or more ammo going a long way in making life easier for the player. Fortunately, each area of the game feels like a set piece where there’s ALWAYS a way to get through stealthily, so doing so is never too difficult – it just takes a bit of patience and clever use of Sna- I mean, Jesse Fox’s arsenal of gadgets and weaponry.
“It made for a fun time, not only because I’m a fan of Metal Gear, but also because the game features genuinely engaging gameplay.”
The boss fights were pretty creative too, though some of those towards the end of the game could be tough. I wouldn’t necessarily call UnMetal a hard game, but having bosses who can one-hit kill you later on could see you having to go through some of the same sequences over and over again. It’s a shame because they’re otherwise fun encounters that really highlight the game’s creativity.
The biggest strength of UnMetal’s gameplay comes with the variety. You’ll find yourself doing a lot of different things, with the comedic undertones often ensuring these are fun and bizarre. Whilst there are some instances where the player will suffer some frustrating deaths for the sake of ‘comedy’, for the most part it lends itself well to the experience and keeps things fun and intriguing. Whilst it wore its inspirations like a big badge of honour and was never afraid to use ideas from Metal Gear for events in-game, UnMetal also does plenty of its own things to help it feel unique. It made for a fun time, not only because I’m a fan of Metal Gear, but also because the game features genuinely engaging gameplay.
UnMetal is a genuinely funny homage of the Metal Gear series that manages to complement its many laughs with enjoyable gameplay. Sure, it has a few missteps here and there with some obtuse puzzling and clumsy combat, but the stealth action is super satisfying whilst the barrage of zany situations you find yourself in ensure that the experience never grows old.
It’s just a fun game that just about anyone will be able to enjoy, but that fans of Metal Gear will appreciate the most. UnMetal is a fine example of comedic gaming done right.
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC