Double Kick Heroes

Tear into a post-apocalyptic world taken over by zombies, and governed by the not-so-nice remnants of society. Band together with the Double Kick Heroes, a metal band equipped to blow up zombies and shred music. Created by Headbang Club (who knows all things metal) this game has you playing as the drummer, Derek. Your other bandmates, Lincoln the brash female band manager, James the endless solo riff guitarist, Randie the badass bassist, and Snake the world’s best keytarist.

Double Kick Heroes is a metal rhythm-based game where you drive and shoot whilst being chased by zombies and other derelict creatures. It has a 16-bit aesthetic with current quality music and is a welcome addition to the ever-growing sea of indie titles. Roadtrip in the Gundillac and stumble across the bandmates favourite rock stars while killing waves of zombies in the process. The Gundillac is retrofitted with guns that shoot based on your drumset and keytar. Double Kick Heroes is the most metal game you’ll ever play, with tons of original and licensed songs. Use expert timing with either furious button mashing or using the Switch joy con’s motion controls to double kick your way to freedom.

When starting this review I thought maybe I wasn’t the best to review a metal game. I never really listened to metal, though right out of high school I did hang out with a group of metalheads pretty much exclusively. So being around metal music during that time helped me appreciate the genre even though I never picked it up myself. I’d say for Double Kick Heroes, if you’re really not into metal then this game might not be for you (which is probably pretty obvious). Although there are so many sub-genres of songs used in this game that it’s not all strictly metal, I found my favourite song sounded more like deep trance. If you’re unsure because you’re indifferent to metal or don’t mind it then it’s still totally worth playing this game. Double Kick Heroes may even be the thing that turns the passive metal listener into the full-on headbanging metalhead.

What I love about this game is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, the developers know it’s over the top and have fun with it. I think I was shooting a giant metal shark on wheels in one level. You can’t get much more metal than that, but I assume it’ll get even more uber metal the further I progress. It’s also nice that there are five difficulties to choose from in any mode: Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Violence, and Extreme. I could handle some songs on Metal difficulty but was most comfortable on Hard Rock, whereas Violence and Extreme felt like a cruel joke. As a warning, changing your difficulty for Story mode will mean it gets overwritten. This was my biggest pet peeve as I lost quite a bit of progress because I was bouncing around trying all the difficulties.

There are four modes to choose from: Arcade, Story, Hellgate, and Fury Road. Arcade is a more a pick-up-and-play mode that lets you attack each level one after the other in successive order, it’s basically the Story mode without the segues. The Story follows along the band’s desperate “tour” across the wastes after a gig is thwarted by a zombie horde. As you progress you watch the dialogue between bandmates deciding what to do next, and as you make your way through the game you’ll discover legendary metal icons. You’ll also come across different settlements, and run into good or bad groups all with their own idiosyncrasies. Hellgate is a collection of bonus songs that you can choose to play in any order. I found I enjoyed this mode the most because you can pick a song you like and test it without being forced to progress. Fury Road actually has two hidden sub-modes within; Daily Fury and Endless Rage. Daily Fury is an updated daily challenge, but for some reason, I found it inaccessible at times. Endless Rage is endless back to back levels, and you get power-ups and unlock gear for your car the further you progress, similar to a rogue-lite.

Unfortunately, there are some missing modes that are available on the PC version of the game; Chill mode, and importing your own music and making levels to share online. Chill mode simply has no zombies, and I assume it’ll make it’s way to the Switch with future updates. Though the ability to import your own music and create levels, I don’t see ever making it to the Switch. It’s a huge bummer but it’s understandable given the capabilities of the Switch.

Let’s talk about the controls for a minute, there are a lot of options on the Switch to rip along with the music. Classic button presses, which is fine at lower difficulties but quickly becomes impossible. You would need fingers of the gods to move as fast as you’re expected to, especially at higher difficulties. Then you can utilize the motion controls of the joy-cons with a single pair that combine movements and button presses. This seemed more efficient in the long run and I would advise starting out this way. Then there’s also the ability to use two pairs of joy-cons where you hold one pair and have the other pair tucked in your socks! I was kicking myself that I don’t own two pairs because I desperately wanted to try this out. The game is called Double Kick Heroes so the entire time playing it, I was thirsting for the chance to actually kick to the music. Overall the controls are rather inclusive and you can actually map all the buttons to your liking which should be standard for all console games at this point.

What you get from Double Kick Heroes is an awesome rhythm-based game with a great line up of metal and other kickass songs. There really isn’t anything else like it. It’s sort of a mix between Guitar Hero and Patapon, and it mixes surprisingly well, which is likely why it won so many indie game awards. The concept alone was enough to foster curiosity for me to want to try it out. I’d say the Story was fun overall but I wasn’t particularly blown away, but nor was I expecting to be.

Double Kick Heroes is just a very different game, and that uniqueness is what makes it so charming. If you’re looking for a different experience I’d highly recommend it. This past week that I’ve been reviewing this I also picked up Doom for the first time, so I’d have to say this was the most metal week I’ve ever had, and I’ve been loving it.


Updated: Aug 25, 2020

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