Metal Unit Review: Mechs vs Aliens

Don your Metal Unit, lock & load your giant machine gun, and get ready to save the world.

Metal Unit is a story-driven action platformer with roguelite elements. If you aren’t familiar with roguelites, it’s all about making as much progress as you can until you die and start over. Simply put, expect to progress, die, and begin again from scratch. If you aren’t a fan of the genre, Metal Unit is absolutely not the game for you.

Travel the world, defeat aliens

Metal Unit

The game’s story is separated into five distinct episodes. Within each episode is a specific world for you to explore and advance through. Generally speaking, every world contains up to 18 levels and a boss battle at the end. As is customary with the genre, you’re expected to make it all the way to the end in one life. Luckily, there are camps located at key intervals in each world. The camps act as rest areas where you can sell off any unneeded weapons and equipment, purchase items, and recover your health.

Interestingly, there is a risk versus reward aspect to camps. They all contain semi-hidden bunkers to explore. These bunkers have a chance to yield high-tier items, but they’re often guarded by enemies and traps. Furthermore, you can only choose one or the other. It’s up to you to decide if you want to risk additional damage for a potentially useful item or simply top off your health and be on your way.

For the completionists out there, be ready to put a lot of time into Metal Unit. There are tons of secret areas hidden within the game’s worlds and even within the hub world. You can unlock some new suits to wear, though these are only cosmetic.

Furthermore, things don’t end once you finish the main story. You can begin a New Game +, conserving your abilities. You can also access a hidden area and activate various challenges such as a permadeath mode or even a mode that prevents you from using health potions. If you can complete the game with a challenge active, you’ll reap unique rewards.

Combat and Equipment

There is enough weapon and equipment variety to make every playthrough unique. Additionally, the sheer number of weapons, armour, support, and ultimate abilities means that you can tailor the experience to your own style of play.

Admittedly, using an ultimate ability is really cool. The focus on Unit 11 and Joanna, as well as the visual effects are impressive and add some weight to what are your most powerful moves.

On the other hand, combat itself is a little hit or miss. While it’s very satisfying to take on and destroy multiple enemies at once, like when you use your ultimate or simply through the perfect swing of your sword, there isn’t really any weight to fighting. In my experience, I’ve also found some enemy types to be extremely passive, to the point where they simply do not react to be slashed in the back.

Speaking of enemies, bosses are the highlight of Metal Unit. They are generally massive and very resistant to damage. Some are straightforward enough; hack away until they die. Others, arguably the most enjoyable ones, implement bullet hell mechanics. They will test your ability to dodge at the right time and get in a few hits before backing off. 

Overall, the combat system isn’t bad. It does demand some decent timing to avoid or counter enemy attacks. You can string together some impressive combos as well, but that fact is that you’ll be mashing melee for the most part. 

Like many other roguelites, be prepared to manage an inventory. As you progress through each world, you’ll inevitably find yourself loaded with items. With experience, you’ll most likely find a type of loadout that suits your style. You’ll need to regularly dump any superfluous items off at vendors in camps or use synthesis to craft new items. Just be warned that synthesis doesn’t always work in your favor and you’ll need a bit of luck to get something useful.

Metal Unit Evangelion

Metal Unit

Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst in regard to the game’s narrative. Metal Unit boasts that it’s a “story-driven” game. However, it’s nothing more than a generic storyline of revenge and redemption. Even worse, the narrative is a convoluted mess of overused tropes and melodramatic anime storylines.

As Joanna, the rookie pilot of M-Unit 11, you’re tasked with saving the world from an alien menace. At the same time, monsters are pouring out from underground and infesting the planet. And while you’re trying to beat back aliens and monsters, you’re also on the hunt for you sister, a treacherous pilot sided with the aliens. Meanwhile, a conspiracy is brewing back at base. Your enigmatic leader, known only as “Master”, is clearly hiding vital information from you.

If it looks like there are a lot of moving parts to Metal Unit‘s narrative, that’s because there are. The story plays out via what are some of the longest, most verbose cutscenes in recent video game history. Not quite Metal Gear Solid in length, but enough to become frustrating.

Be prepared to read a lot of expository dialog or simply hold down the button to skip through. This might seem like a minor inconvenience, but the impact of pulling a player out of an otherwise action-packed game to spew written dialog for five minutes is catastrophic. It doesn’t help that you have little to no attachment to any of the characters, especially not the ones introduced for a single cutscene that are never heard from again.

Simply put, while Metal Unit considers itself to be story-driven, the game’s narrative takes a backseat to the action. Not to mention that cutscenes are simply massive infodumps which take you out of the action for minutes at a time.

Metal Unit : Final Thoughts

Metal Unit checks all the boxes for an enjoyable experience. However, it remains a generic experience all-around. For fans of roguelites, the game certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre. Nor does it do anything particularly new or innovative. If roguelites aren’t your thing, Metal Unit has absolutely nothing to offer which could grab your interest.

Nonetheless, Metal Unit does provide players with a lot of options in terms of weapons and equipment. There is something for almost every playstyle. There is a ton of content both during the campaign and post-game to keep players occupied. While combat is simple, it certainly is satisfying. Unfortunately, the game’s story is lacklustre and its cutscenes don’t shy away from ripping you out of an otherwise action-packed game.

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