Back in April 2018, I previewed a crazy button bashing game featuring a Gundillac, and a zombie apocalypse, all set to metal music. Double Kick Heroes looked a very promising game and was set to imminently release. As with all great plans, however, devs Headbang Club stumbled across financial issues when seeking a publisher and the game was delayed. They did not waste their time however and decided to expand further onto their already well-received idea. Fast forward to the present and Double Kick Heroes has now been released onto PC, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
To sum the gameplay of Double Kick Heroes, it is a pixel graphic guitar hero that meets the zombie apocalypse but replace the guitar with a drum kit! The background to the game is to get the daring metal band across the treacherous wasteland, set out in a number of stages, without dying. You get to meet the bunch of misfits, namely; Lincoln, Snake, Derek, Randie and James as they face off against zombies, rebels, militias and even mutant chickens.
Before and after each stage you have a cutscene outlining the story as well as the next objective that you need to get to before checking out the map to decide on where to head to next. Controls are fairly simple, utilising the arrow keys, control and shift button to fire a mixture of weapons such as pistols, shotguns, grenades and even a sniper gun depending on the difficulty that you have selected. Headbang Club have gone out of their way to present 5 different difficulty settings so that “even your baby can play”, their own words! The setting you choose ultimately affects how many tracks you will need to watch out for.
When the stage begins the metal music will start and it is down to you to press the correct key in time with the beat of the song. Along the bottom of the screen you will see the various drum tracks and the drum timing indicators racing from right to left. The bass kick pedal is the main weapon and depending on which arrow key you press will affect whether the higher or the lower gun will fire, taking out the hordes that are chasing after your car as it drives down the road. The more times you land the keystroke at the correct time, the higher the multiplier climbs and also the weapon automatically upgrades. Should the horde catch up with you then you lose a life and must start over. If you survive the track and make it to the end you are scored on your performance based on the number of perfect and good hits, combos etc. For your dandy feat you also receive a global ranking letting you see where you stack with the rest of the world.
Double Kick Heroes is full of comedy and banter with a pretty much no holds barred approach to the dialogue. Being in a band myself, I can relate to it. This isn’t for the easily offended.
There are a number of game modes where the devs have had time to carry on adding to Double Kick Heroes. Aside from the Story, there is Arcade where you can select stages to replay, Hellgate that features all the tracks that are on the game, allowing you to select one and play along to your heart’s content, Fury Road – setting daily and endless play whereby you can enhance your Gundillac car and finally there are User levels where you can search for a song and find a stage constructed purely around the rhythm of it. All you need to do is ensure that you have the relevant mp3 file available on your computer. I gave Linkin Park’s Numb a playthrough and it worked pretty well! If the number of modes was not enough, you can also use an editor to construct your own levels.
Double Kick Heroes is a side-scrolling pixel art styled game with neat cut scenes and static set pieces giving you a chance to rest those pulsating fingers. The game reminded me of Castle Crashers to a degree, I think it was some of the character animations and how they reacted to being hit. A lot of the characters that you meet are very tongue in cheek and based loosely on real people however you can still identify who they are through the great artwork.
The animations are smooth and the whole unique gameplay is easy to follow on the screen although most of the time you will find yourself concentrating on the bar at the bottom of the screen to ensure you hit the beat properly rather than watching the chaos that is happening above!
Music is the heart of nearly every game and never has it been more so than in a music orientated game :D. Featuring an all-original soundtrack, purchasable here with 30 assorted tracks that cover the rock and metal genre very well, you can easily be fooled into thinking that you are listening to something from the likes of Maiden or Slayer. Planet Error was one of my favourite tracks purely because it mixed a strong rock rift with early 90’s arcade electro-synths, pretty awesome! It has to be said, the music goes brilliantly with the zombie-killing vibe!
Each stage varies in length, with the story mode taking around 3 hours to complete. That said, you are looking at over that should you want to go through the various game modes and then pretty much infinity should you want to take on the user-created levels as well as create your own.
Double Kick Heroes is a solid game and a must if you a) enjoy guitar hero style games, b) want to totally destroy zombie hordes and c) love rock and metal music. For me, this ticks all the boxes and it is great to see that the devs used their time while seeking a publisher to enhance the game further. Double Kick Heroes scores a Thumb Culture Gold award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.