Double Kick Heroes was released on the Xbox One back in August 2020 and is a rhythm based zombie shooter developed by Headbang Club.
For us metal fans, the developer already has an exciting name but Double Kick Heroes also comes jam packed with plenty of in your face metal to button bash along to. It’s real charm though, comes in the fact that it has a genuinely comical story that drives the game along packed full of every heavy metal stereotype and quirk you can imagine.
The games story mode is one of the core game modes and this starts with us being introduced to the band. We have 5 members of the band for the story, all portrayed like something straight out of an R rated Bill and Ted, or an Airheads. We have the beast of a drummer who also happens to be a bit of an idiot who eats all the time, the opinionated front woman who is treated as the band’s leader, the nutty guitarists and the in your face female bassist. Anyway, all hell has broken loose as the apocalypse strikes and the band, with their trusty car Sheila, hit the road.
They hook up guns on the back of the car, wired to the kicks drums and head off. The band travel from point to point on a map with each stop seeing a metal song played and you in control of the guns as you try to match the rhythm to your button presses. String perfect hits together to see your guns level up as hordes of zombies, scavengers, undead chickens, bats and all manner of devilish creatures rush up behind your car. As you progress, you will hit boss fights and rest stops all designed to keep the comical but clever story progressing.
The cut scenes are all nicely drawn, all in 2D with just text on the screen. Be prepared for plenty of expletives in the text too. The map is treated a bit like a World Tour. As you play your few zombie chased gigs in America, you move towards Europe (over a handy bridge that apparently connects the US and Europe). It all culminates with a journey to Hell where you get to take on the one and only, Satan.
Some of the funniest moments in the game come from safe houses found en route. All of these safe houses are stuffed with versions of famous metallers. All using fake names but they are mostly unmistakeable. Prepare to run into a version of Marilyn Manson, James Hetfield (I think), a Scandinavian black metaller hanging out in a church that could be, well most of them. We also run into Jack Black, Kyle Gass and Danny Trejo, under the name Machete. The bets comes in hell though when we run into Lemmy though. If you like your metal, these interactions are hilarious.
So that is the game really, choose a level, bang your head and bash some buttons while zombies get blown to pieces from the back of your car all while enjoying a genuinely entertaining story. But that is not all.
Gameplay itself is simple – you press B for a low shot and Y for a high shot. The zombies come running on one or both of these tracks so you alternate your presses to keep the track clear and the zombies back. In total there are 5 difficulty levels but they are ridiculous. Anything above Metal difficulty (probably the equivalent of Hard) is next to impossible and requires a programmed controller or machine like fingers as the notes on screen multiply ridiculously and other tracks needing the triggers and shoulder buttons join the mix. You should note that if you hunt achievements, a lot of them are difficulty related so completing this game requires you to beat every boss on the hardest difficulty level. A task I won’t be able to do.
As well as the Story Mode, we also get a few additional modes including Arcade mode, a type of Free Play and Fury Road which is a bit of an endless loop game where you get 1 life and try to last as long as possible. Musically, the game tries to delve into different metal genres and is mostly a fantastic soundtrack of original songs. You do have another free play mode where you can play a handful of real songs too from bands like Meshuggah and Gojira, to name just two.
There aren’t many but let’s talk issues. So, I already mentioned the fact that I think the difficulty jump from Medium to Hard and then upwards is utter insanity and in no way fun. I would urge most people to play this game on Hard Rock difficulty and just try and enjoy the story. In that, it is a shame so many achievements are tied to completing the game on these hardest difficulties. The only other issue is the screen layout, though I don’t know what else they could have done.
The music track runs at the bottom and the notes come fast and furiously while the top part of the screen shows the car and zombies. A simple task like glancing up to see what track the zombies are on can make you miss a handful of notes and you lose your combo. In harder songs, I found that I didn’t really look up at all, just alternated my button pressing. I didn’t see what was chasing me at all and feel I lost a little bit of the story there.
Overall though, they are minor complaints about a game that is unique and refreshing. It is funny, and even more so if you like metal. The soundtrack is brilliant and the characters are ridiculous if not strangely familiar. Well played, Headbang Club. I would definitely recommend this game to any fan of music, originality and/or rhythm games.
Double Kick Heroes is available in the Xbox store, or on Game Pass, now.
Double Kick Heroes (Xbox One)
The Final Score - 8/10