Monday, 02 April 2018 08:00

Double Kick Heroes Early Access Review

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I’m not a metal fan. While I have no grudge against the genre and don’t turn it off when it plays on the radio, I don’t actively pursue it either. With that being said, Double Kick Heroes, developed by the appropriately named Headbang Club f*cking rocks. Double Kick Heroes is a rhythm game that plays like Guitar Hero but for drums, or Rock Band, if you only had the drums. It looks like an apocalyptic version of Oregon Trail, and sounds like a mixtape that the one kid you knew during freshman year would bring in. The one with the wavy blonde hair and the Metallica t-shirt with the sleeves torn off.

Marching to your own beat

The first merit that Double Kick Heroes has for it is the ability to select the level of difficulty you want in a range of five choices. In easier modes, the player is only responsible for one single lane of yellow notes and the kick drum track in the song, while  higher difficulties and later levels force the player to juggle snare and cymbals as well, which adds up to two extra lanes. This makes Double Kick Heroes accessible to players who want to take a shot at the rhythm game genre as well as players who want to fill the void left behind by Guitar Hero’s passing.

Welcome to Hell

Early levels are a nice introduction to the mechanics. You hit buttons to the basic drum beat of the song, which fires a mounted gun into a crowd of zombies chasing a muscle car aptly named Gundillac. Depending on if you hit the right or left arrow key, either the top or bottom gun will fire, which is important to keep the horde away from the car. Any zombies that get too close cause damage to the car, and you’ll lose the level if enough damage is caused. Later levels introduce the snare, which, when pressed correctly and in time with the music, are used to toss grenades. Then cymbals are introduced, and are used to summon sniper support.

Playing a level is surprisingly reminiscent of playing a guitar. There will be times when you’ll play a song over and over, only to fail in the middle or end, having to redo it until the beat becomes second nature. That will come in handy because there will be an extra layer of challenge during boss fight, where you will have to steer the car on top of keeping the beat. This will be a pain, especially during more intense parts. Sometimes the keyboard just doesn’t feel like the best controller to play this game with, but the hardest challenge of all is keeping your eyes on the notes instead of the art.

Straight off an album cover

The world of Double Kick Heroes is handsomely rendered. Different levels will have you driving past destroyed monuments, abandoned buildings, and wide open deserts, all while being chased by anything from zombie-shark bikers to thousand-eyed demon trains with pentagram wheels. It’s awesome. The world map looks like a Slayer album cover, and hideouts like garages or casinos are filled with unique characters which radiate a distinct hell-on-earth feel that makes the game feel like a never ending music video.

This game rocks

Despite being sold as a metal rhythm game, Double Kick Heroes is a host to a variety of musical genres — it’s just that those genres are a mystery. But the songs are killer. Thrashing to the beat while mowing down hordes of undead is unbelievably satisfying. Whenever beasts group up into a small mob, it usually signals a killer solo opportunity that’s used to gun through enemies like a lawnmower, which is also a blast. Racking up perfect beat combos upgrades the mounted guns from peashooters, to triple-shot shotguns, to explosive cannons, rewarding better players with more firepower.

Looking for an encore

Double Kick Heroes is an experience. There’s something to be said about taking on the apocalypse with nothing but an armed muscle car and a kick-ass setlist, fighting across a twisted wasteland of zombies, sharks, and demonic trains. While the current game is set to have thirty levels, it would be nice to see DLC that adds extra songs and possibly weapons, or maybe a multiplayer mode where friends can join in on keyboard or guitar.


The Verdict: Excellent

Between the accessibility, art, music, gameplay, and price, Double Kick Heroes is a real bang for your buck experience. Anyone looking to pick up a new rhythm game doesn’t have to be a fan of metal to enjoy this one, but it definitely helps. Fans of Guitar Hero and softer titles like Rhythm Heaven will both find what they’re looking for in Double Kick Heroes.

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Mike Juray

Mike was first on the scene with a SNES and kept up-to-date on the hottest games thanks to his older brother’s shared love of all things video games. He loves staying in on rainy days with classic horror games like Silent Hill or Clocktower, but has experience across the the gamut of genres, from racing-sim to rhythm-action. He is always looking for new and different experiences, both in gaming and real life. His go-to genre is platforming, but he also enjoys a good FPS or puzzler. When he’s not holding a controller, he enjoys sushi, fluffy dogs, cold lemonades, and urbexing.