As agent Jesse Fox, I was trapped under the enemy base and pursued by numerous guards above. A voice in my head reminded me that this was just a flashback and asked me if there were any rats in this deadly sewer. A dialog prompt appeared, and for some absurd reason, I chose “T”.
“Assassin rats are everywhere in the sewers,” Fox said. “I feel like a big piece of cheese.”
His pixelated body became a piece of cheese. Rats gush out from every pipe and hole, and I start to run for my life full of dairy products, to make matters worse, Benny Hill Theme Song When the rodent bit my ankle, it began to buzz.
This sums up the tone Non-metal is for. UnMetal, developed by UnEpic Games (the maker of games that mimic UnEpic and Ghost 1.0), is a spoof of MSX’s original top-down 2D Metal Gear Solid game, replacing Solid Snake with a weird person who can’t tell the story straightforwardly. I played the first few hours last week, and I found myself having to explain to my partner many times why I laughed like an idiot.
Narrated through a series of flashbacks (sometimes flashbacks in flashbacks), Agent Jesse Fox was interrogated by a lieutenant who found him flying a Russian helicopter, even though he was not a member of the Russian army. As Jesse said, he was imprisoned by other commandos for not committing crimes. We know this because A) Jesse tells the audience directly. B) A character in the flashback yelled “You were arrested for a crime you didn’t commit!” This sounds complicated, but it’s still the way Mel Brooks does very funny.
The opening chapter of UnMetal follows Jesse, because he reflects on his escape from an enemy base. Apart from the name, everything is Shadow Moses or Outer Heaven. Players control stealth through the guarded area, occasionally solving the click-through Puzzle. Along the way, Jesse, his interrogator, or one of the characters he meets will often interrupt, add color comments or question Jesse’s logic. Sometimes it’s kind of second grade, like giving a guy who looks like Johnny Sasaki some extra toilet paper literal bathroom humor, sometimes it’s a setting that is executed cleverly like a mouse sewer chase.
The fun of UnMetal is not in its gameplay, which is more or less the simple sneaky of classic Metal Gear Solid games, but in all self-conscious meta-jokes making fun of Hideo Kojima’s crazy storytelling talent, evil monologues, and action Heroic logic. Anyone who has played a top-down stealth game can use stealth. You can toss a coin to lure guards who are easily fooled, press in the corner and prepare to attack, and then easily knock down or kill with your fist or shooting.
Your inventory grid will soon be filled with seemingly useless garbage, and you need to combine them to make new tools (a slingshot made with the one-eyed guard’s eye mask is the highlight) or to complete goals, such as decrypting the radio. You can talk freely with another prisoner who is very similar to Colonel Campbell, the commander of the snake in Metal Gear. Some of these point-and-click puzzles are a bit boring, but they almost always pay off with some humorous dialogue. Can my advice relieve depression? Punch and loot everything, just like a good soldier should do.
Another highlight is that because of Jesse Fox’s unreliable narrative, the world around you can often change shape. His dialogue is full of decorations, like Jesse approaching a boss called “Grenade Man”, but he cannot be contacted due to Shallow Ditch. Why can’t Jesse skip it? He said, because it was full of spears, tentacles and zombie arms protruding from the depths. Look, the ditch was suddenly filled with a terrible hatred, and the hatred disappeared when the lieutenant waved the idea as an absurd one. These gimmicks will not appear out of place in action movie spoofs, such as Hot Shots or Naked Gun.
I really like the farce here. The different levels of narrative, and many of them are unreliable, transcend any unsurprising gameplay. Of course, if the ridiculous reinforcement of reality in the “Metal Gear Solid” series is not pleasant, it will certainly not be so popular, and UnMetal has found a way to further improve things while celebrating and mocking Kojima’s storytelling and creating a Mysterious, anything-the narrative makes me want to continue to follow Jesse Fox’s journey to freedom and to bring justice to the crimes that he never committed 100%.