Do you remember Brutal Legend? Metal music will save the world

Taking the avenue of memories is usually an experience full of nostalgic peace, perhaps established on the soft colors of a quiet countryside at sunset, addicted to the harmonic trills of birds, but when it comes to Brütal Legend the volume is set to maximum and the most aggressive solos become faithful companions in memory of an adventure that we could not fail to define as unique.

Tim Schafer, the creative director of Double Fine and veteran of the game industry, finally manages to give shape to a videogame dream he had since high school, building a world where you live and breathe metal music, an adventure that boasts a cast capable of making the eyes of all fans of the most brutal rock water and that travels at insane speed on the notes of its screaming soundtrack. For this reason, regardless of some criticalities of the experience, many – including us – have never stopped thinking about this playable love letter addressed to metal.

The hard life of the roadie

Eddie Riggs calls himself the best roadie in the world at the service of the worst heavy metal band ever, the Kabbage Boy, who mix bad rap sounds with the pure art of rock instruments. During yet another horrible concert the guitarist of the group has the brilliant idea of ​​climbing on the stage built on the stage, forcing Eddie to rescue him (and his guitar) just before the roadie is buried by the collapsed scenery due to the musician.

The blood spilled by the intrepid metalhead flows to the buckle of his belt, which turns out to be an amulet capable of evoking Ormagöden, a beast of pistons forged in fire who, after wearing the robes of musical justice by killing the members of the Kabbage Boy, transports the unconscious roadie into a parallel reality based on true metal.

The unnamed world that welcomes Eddie is dominated by the demonic forces led by Doviculus and his human henchman Lyonwhite, fighting the paltry resistance with which the roadie allies himself by keeping to an ancient prophecy that heralded him as the savior, although an inaccuracy on the translation leave the doubt that it could also be the destroyer of the planet. The protagonist’s abilities that were wasted in his reality become very powerful weapons in this renewed plane of existence, because his riffs can explode into magic and the metal that pervades every fiber of his body also gives him a pair of wings, transforming him into a to be diabolically divine in appearance.

Action and strategy

The exploration of the open world is one of the cornerstones of the experience, which is based on the hallucinating settings created by the Double Fine team. The insiders have managed to drop the fans in a fantasy playful context full of metal album coversof stories told in the most folkloristic songs and of ideas already visited in the most famous video clips of the reference genre, proof of the love felt towards music.

To flavor the purely sonic imagery there is the strong influence of Norse folklore, which has always been closely linked to metal, with strong references to the tradition of Odin and his host of divinities. Eddie explores this fantastic artistic setting aboard his Hot Rod, sprinkling with ironic contemporaneity a context that floats between the medieval and the futuristic, between engines that come out of the ground like relics of a discolored past and gigantic swords set in the prairies, the sign of divine battles lost in time. The fight against demonic forces sees the roadie show off his blade skills by unleashing the ax known as “The Separator” in combos devoted to violence and gore over the top, while welcoming magical skills through the sensational solos that release the most disparate spells from the strings of the iconic guitar signed by Gibson, the Flying V. To unleash the hidden powers of the musical instrument, the player is called upon to overcome a simple rhythm-based minigamewhich during the genesis of development had led Schafer to consider using the Guitar Hero “guitar” controller to play Brütal Legend, an idea that was, however, discarded because it was considered too artificial and not very feasible.

In addition to the real-time action, the Double Fine video game often opened in sections devoted to strategy, with a stage to protect. guiding the allied troops through a tower defense mechanism: new and powerful companions could be recalled by the player by “spending” the fans accumulated at the merchandising stands, or by improving the operational base to make them produce more powerful warriors, always holding up the banner of metal as the backbone of the experience, for example by evoking a horde of headbangers to destroy the enemy statues.

Both the fights and the more expansive exploration are graced by a stellar soundtrack, literally packed with songs from 75 different bands and from the most disparate metal sounds, from classic to industrial, passing from black to doomwith the managers of Double Fine who were able to find unreleased versions of some historical songs by putting them in the game to give a further acceleration to certain scenes provided by the plot.

An unforgettable world

The realization of this metal dream remained in Schafer’s mind for dozens of years, but the development of Brütal Legend really ignited following the publication of Psychonauts (recovered the review of Psychonauts 2).

It seems clear that a previous knowledge of the musical genre is essential to fully enjoy the lucid madness of Double Fine, despite the fact that the developers have tried with all their might to create a work that could attract even the most “casual” spectator, because they see in front of the eyes the screaming cast put together to give voice and features to its characters it is an indescribable joy for all those raised on bread and metal. The main protagonist is modeled on the features of Jack Black, passionate gamer and singer of Tenacious D, the bassist-curator is the never enough late Lemmy of Motörhead, the biker Fire Baron is voiced by Rob Halford – the singer of Judas Priest, who lends his voice also to the antagonist Lionwhyte – while the Amazon Rima is animated by the voice of Lita Ford, the leader of the Runaways. The Guardian of Metal is obviously His Majesty Ozzy Osbournewhile Ronnie James Dio had participated in the tapes to play the main antagonist, but was replaced at the very end by Tim Curry for reasons Schafer called “difficult to explain”.

Nobody can stop metal

And to think that the involvement of all these personalities was almost accidental, because the gods of metal agreed to participate in the project when they learned that other colleagues were already on board, creating a sort of domino effect based on passion and love which also left Schafer amazed. Jack Black himself, who in his own way became an icon of music thanks to Brütal Legend, was included in the project after having proposed himself, while the concept of the protagonist had settled before him on a curious amalgam of Lemmy and Glenn Danzig, and some details of that primordial idea were then integrated into the character of Eddie.


As expected, dubbing sessions involving the metal gods very often evolved into improvisations seasoned with numerous profanities, with the Prince of Darkness particularly inclined to adult languagebut Schafer thought it best not to cut off these profane dialogues, but decided to insert a warning in the prologue and the option to “bippare” the foul language not so much to fall into a more condescending PEGI category, but to mimic the omnipresent reports of explicit content that decorated all the albums of the musical genre acclaimed by the game.

In short, we could not forget even if we wanted a game so proudly crazy, exaggerated and madly in love with music, that only a creative of Schafer’s caliber could have conceived.

Do you remember Brutal Legend? Metal music will save the world