I don’t really play many games that are pure satire or parody anymore, and that’s a shame. I’m sure they still exist, but they’re smaller project that don’t come to my attention. I’m glad I ran into UnMetal though, because you can see from my preview that I was immediately in love with its humor and gameplay—in fact, it’s easily one of my favorite games of the year.
UnMetal is a top 2D action-adventure game with an emphasis on stealth. It pays homage to old school pixel art games, especially those from the Metal Gear series. In it, you play as Jesse Fox, a gravel-voiced self-proclaimed badass. The game has a framing device where Fox is being interrogated, and he’s relaying the story of how he escaped from his captivity after the fact. Let’s just say that Fox is an unreliable narrator, which has some hilarious (and clever) gameplay implications.
UnMetal frequently feels like a point and click style adventure game, but it has just as many moments of stealth and action. Most of your time in UnMetal will be spent exploring, avoiding or incapacitating guards, and interacting with the environment. Stealth gameplay in UnMetal works a little like it did in the classic NES Metal Gear—sneak up behind a guard to dispatch them quickly with melee. You can shoot them with a sling shot to stun them first, and later you’ll be able to shoot them (but will have to bandage them to stop the bleeding) and even use chloroform to subdue them with its “numbing smell.” There are often funny guard interactions, too, making the combat hilarious as well as challenging.
I wouldn’t call UnMetal a puzzle game, but you frequently have to use inventory items, sometimes even combining them into new items, to bypass situations or obstacles. If you’re stuck, you can use your radio and ask for hints from characters you’ve met during your adventure. Frequently, UnMetal requires you to think your way out of situations, and despite its absurdity, only has a light touch of moon logic in its solutions.
Since Fox is telling the story of the game after the fact, you often have a choice in how to respond during his story. Picking a choice that might be considered embellishment often leads to better responses than trying to be modest. For instance, if you have a choice for the sewer monster having two, four, or six tentacles, answering “six” gives you six, but answers “two” nets you two dozen. Sometimes I would even make an obviously “wrong” or “bad” choice in these situations just to see the funny outcome.
UnMetal features some on-point pixel-art, and competent gameplay mechanics—but the best part is its writing. UnMetal is chock full of insanely funny scenarios and one-liners and plays up its nostalgia potential with an abundance of classic video game and movie references. I love absurdity, and UnMetal is absurd in the most delightful ways. I haven’t laughed this hard since Monkey Island or Sam and Max Hit the Road—it’s been a while. That’s not to say that every joke landed, but it was definitely more hit than miss.
Easily one of my favorite games of the year, UnMetal is clever, witty, and manages to have compelling gameplay, too. I couldn’t recommend UnMetal more, and I think it deserves to be seen by more people. It’s genuinely one of the greatest video game parodies I’ve played.
UnMetal is available tomorrow on Steam.
A Steam key was provided to us for the purpose of this review.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.