The first thing that drew me to DeathMetal HD was the title. After all, I do love me some death metal. All the screaming and blast beats find a way to satisfy me and my cold, black heart. Now, the game features not a lot in the way of death metal: there’s some heavy riffs that get involved in the menu and when powerups are activated, but this is really just a grungy-looking Breakout-style brick-breaking game. I mean grungy-looking not to say that it’s ugly, or that it looks like grunge music, but that it looks like it takes place in a dirty factory.
The core of the game is really quite familiar: paddle at bottom, bricks at top, ball somewhere hopefully between the two. Powerups for making the ball turn into fire (and unleash some metal riffs straight from hell), increase the paddle size, and make it magnetic are available, along with powerdowns like speed-ups, paddle shrinkers, and ball shrinkers. No one likes shrinkage.
Now, where DeathMetal HD succeeds is that it has a brilliant control scheme: because the game takes place in landscape instead of portrait like many games of the same genre, it has the ability to use a two-thumbs virtual button scheme. The left thumb moves left, the right thumb moves right. There’s also a swipe control by touching the paddle directly, and tilt controls available. But having these thumb controls makes the game just feel infinitely better than many games in portrait that just use swipe controls.
That may be the most interesting part of the game: there’s not a whole lot to make it stand out, it’s an otherwise fine Breakout-alike. The worlds are long, and it’s not possible to continue progress mid-world from where a game ends. So expect to replay the early levels a lot if shooting for progression; playing it as a high score game appears to be the real aim.
While DeathMetal HD could use more death metal and a few tweaks, its control scheme alone makes it a satisfying brick breaking game.