Brutal Legend Demo Shows Its Might, Converts Skeptics

Posted by | October 2, 2009

The demo for Brutal Legend is out now, ready for download on PS3 and Xbox 360. I messed around with it last night, but we’ll get to my impressions in a moment.

More important, is what the demo has been doing to other people. The unconverted. The agnostics, they who do not worship at the altar of metal. Combing this vast internet of ours, I’ve been seeing something strange and unknown to our ways; people see the demo and change their minds. Those who couldn’t care less about Jack Black, suddenly find him funny. Girlfriends peek around the corner and ask to see what’s going to happen next. Blasphemers who think the hallowed chords and solos of metal are little more than manchildren strangling the kittens hidden away inside their guitars take up the controller and smite some evil with a big goddamn axe.

The Brutal Legend demo has power.

I saw this power first-hand last night, running the Xbox 360 version. Maybe some of the surprises were wasted on me, since I’ve seen Tim Schafer himself play through the demo in an earlier article. But the intro cinematic was new, and the in-game filter choices (for gore and profanity) caught me by surprise. The game menu is a good design, being an album that someone opens so you can select levels and such from the interior art.

I’ve just noticed that maybe some of you are coming into this blind, unaware. Okay, that’s cool. Here’s the deal. Brutal Legend is a homage to heavy metal music by Tim Schafer, the creator of Psychonauts and the personality behind damn near every funny adventure game ever. Yes, even that one. No, not that one, that one wasn’t funny. He’s got a company called Double Fine, and they roped Jack Black, Tim Curry, Ozzie, Rob Halford, and a bunch of other metal acts into starring in an adventure/RTS game built around a world where all those kickass heavy metal album covers are literally true.

In Brutal Legend, you play the World’s Best Roadie who gets sucked into this hardcore metal hellscape. You find a huge axe that shoots lightning and makes people explode. You summon a hot rod into existence through the power of rock. You lead armies into battle against demons and evil druids and skeleton-things on a field of corpses. And it’s funny.

The demo takes you through your entrance into this strange world, through some of the local occult lore, and straight into the slavering teeth of a boss fight. The controls are good, but coming into this straight off a round of Batman: Arkham Asylum isn’t going to do you, or Brutal Legend, any favours. The boss fight is, but for the visual design, straight off Psychonauts; dodge the boss’s attack, wait for it to get stuck on something, bop it a good one, repeat two more times.

But the whole affair has charm, personality, and it’s easy to spend way too many precious minutes of your rapidly diminishing lifetime just swinging the camera around to take in the totally awesome scenery.

Grab the demo, check it out. Maybe Brutal Legend can work its power over you.

Oh yeah, and the sword maiden chick is hot.

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