STAFF REVIEW of Double Kick Heroes (Xbox One)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
by Josh Morgan

Double Kick Heroes Box art Double Kick Heroes is a rhythm game by developer Headbang Club, published on Xbox by Plug-In Digital, and was recently announced to launch into Gamepass on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

It is a rhythm game at its core, but with a bit of wave based defense mixed in to keep things interesting. If you’ve played music games of the past such as Rockband or Guitar Hero, then you’ll feel right at home. The bottom half of the screen is your music line, and like Rockband or Guitar Hero you are tasked with hitting buttons in rhythm with the on screen prompts and beats of the music. As you correctly match these beats on screen, your characters shoot guns and throw grenades at the zombie horde chasing you down a seemingly never ending street.

For the most part you’ll be using the face buttons to keep the zombies at bay. On the normal difficulty you’ll use 'A' button for the lower lane and 'B' for the upper. As the zombies start to creep towards your car, you’ll need to make sure you are hitting the right buttons to keep them back or they will start to deal damage to your vehicle. Focusing too much on the 'A' button means that the zombies chasing you in the top lane will start to gain ground and then you’ll have to start mashing the 'B' button to take them out. Your car is on rails and you do not need to control the speed or direction you are moving, but during some boss battles you have the freedom to switch lanes on the road and that helps you dodge some of the bosses attacks.

There are a few game types that you have the option of playing. Arcade mode lets you choose which song you want to play one at a time. Story mode tells the story of your band Double Kick Heroes and their escape from the city and their search for shelter, gas, food and safety. Fury Road gives you daily challenges and awards cosmetic unlocks for your band. Endless Rage is an almost endless road that the goal is to survive to the end and you play through multiple songs.

The story opens with a wide eyed politician on a broken TV saying “My fellow Americans, people of the world. Everything is fine. The situation is under control...” as fires blaze in the background and people are seen running for their lives. Does that sound familiar? All he has to do is wear a red hat and hold a bible upside down and it will quickly turn this crazy story into non-fiction. You play as a metal band called Double Kick Heroes and while you are playing a gig, the house lights turn on and the whole crowd has turned into zombies. You barely escape the arena, and hop into a convertible that has been outfitted with guns that are tied to your instruments. Now, it’s your destiny to rock out, and escape the zombie horde.

In the 2-3 hours it takes to complete the story you’ll run across some pretty well known rock legend look-alikes such as Marilyn Manson, Metallica and I think Danny Trejo, he’s not a rock legend that I know of but that chest tattoo is pretty hard to miss. You’ll fight off zombies, werewolves, vultures, football player zombies, cheerleader zombies, a giant shark, men in white hoods (maybe working for the president) and many, many more. Unfortunately, you’ll be looking at the music bar too much to really see them all. You can watch the horde from the corner of your eye to see how close they are getting, but you really won’t get a good look at the individual enemies until there is a break in the music. It’s a lot like the band playing on stage in the background of a Rockband song. You know they are doing their stage act, strumming on the guitar, banging the drums and strutting on stage like Axle Rose, but you never fully pay attention to it because you are too focused on the music bar. I noticed a lot more of the details of the characters and enemies when I sat back and watched someone else play.

There's not much to say about the graphics. It is your typical pixel art style with vibrant colors and a very smooth framerate. I did not experience any slow down or stuttering while playing. The soundtrack of the story is an original that was made for this game and it’s a nice mix of Nu Metal, death metal and an even heavier metal with a lot of double bass. If metal isn’t your thing then this might not be as enjoyable for you. A lot of the charm that this game has to offer is centered around the blazing soundtrack. It’s chaotic and crazy, just as a game about shooting zombies from the back of a convertible should be.

Double Kick Heroes a very fun add to the Game Pass library and it’s a blast to play with friends passing the controller back and forth while sipping on a few adult beverages. The soundtrack slaps and the story and dialog don’t get in the way while you’re trying to just chill and have a good time. Double Kick Heroes knows what it is, and it does it pretty well.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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