Double Kick Heroes is a hugely engaging game with a wealth of content, great art, and a clear passion behind it. It even enables all different genres of music with its options to create your own levels.
Double Kick Heroes is an interesting take on the rhythm game genre. It takes the likes of Guitar Hero and manages to turn it into a game about gunning down zombies and meeting legends of both music and film. You can tell that it’s somewhat of a passion project from the aptly named Headbang Club.
Double Kick Heroes’ music is mostly Metal, but I was unaware of the many niche varieties it manages to employ throughout the game, from rock ‘n’ roll to the game’s own ‘metalstein 9K’. I presume it’s a joke but it does very accurately describe the aggressive German contained within. This commitment to heavy metal translates to the difficulty of the game – I have spent most of the game on the second easiest mode, and had a good deal of trouble on some songs. Given that there are five difficulty levels it is fair to say it’s quite a difficult game, but a welcome surprise for sure.
As you progress through the game you have more notes to hit in each song, starting with just one line of notes and progressing up to three. Every note you hit helps repel the horde of zombies, cultists, chickens (really) or anything else chasing your ‘gundillac’ named Sheila. With the first line you fire guns from the back of your car, either left or right, with the second you charge up and throw grenades, and with the third you utilise a sniper rifle. You can also move the car in certain boss fights. There is a lot going on at once, but they do try to temper it somewhat. For example, in one boss fight they removed the ability to use grenades, presumably because moving the car and handling two kinds of notes would likely be too much. But, there is also an auto-steering mode, which disables the enemies chasing you.
It is also quite an attractive game with good pixel art. However, this art is quite hard to see when you’re focusing hard on hitting every note, and Double Kick Heroes does certainly play best when you’re focusing hard and hitting every note along with the song. When you get into the rhythm of Double Kick Heroes, it is immensely satisfying- while you can be pulled out somewhat by needing to change which gun is firing and to check how close enemies are following you (etc.), this challenge feels like a necessary evil. The music itself is mainly made by the developers, but there are also 18 licensed tracks, including ‘Turbo Killer’ by Carpenter Brut, who is perhaps best known in the world of gaming for his contributions to Hotline Miami 2. These levels also all have pixel art specific to the song, and ‘Turbo Killer’s resembled the very odd music video made back in 2016!
Of particular interest to me was the ability to add in your own songs as levels, adding in notes yourself, and sharing them with other people via the Steam Workshop. It seems like a great idea for those more musically minded than myself, and it means you can also play some of your favourite songs uploaded by other people. There is no content there currently, likely as this is a review copy, but there are some pre-loaded into the game – you just have to provide your own MP3. The game is made for metal but I’m sure it won’t be long before there’s a Barry White or Adele song on there! There’s also a “fury road” mode where you race through a set of random songs and choose upgrades between each one. The game also supports both guitar and drums, and motion controls on the Nintendo Switch edition.
Overall Double Kick Heroes is an explosive, jam-packed game made with a clear love of music. The range of tracks is surprisingly diverse, and the array of different options and ways to play makes it a steal for the price they’re charging. It’s hard to deny the satisfaction you get from nailing a tricky song you’ve been stuck on for a while. Even if you’re not a huge fan of metal, the rhythm gameplay is fantastic.
Double Kick Heroes is out August 13th on Nintendo Switch, and August 28th on Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, the Microsoft Store and PC. You can watch a trailer below.