I'm not really a metal fan, but Brütal Legend—the most proudly metal video game of all time—is one of my all-time favorites.
It was Double Fine's second game, released in 2009, about a heavy metal roadie and a massive, colorful fantasy world. It operates a lot like a 3D open-world action game, but with an important twist: combat sections are actually massive RTS battles, pitting you and your amazing metal-themed units against wonderfully over-the-top enemy factions.
The game is dripping with talent. Jack Black voices the protagonist, Eddie. Ozzie is your car dealer. A Lita Ford-inspired lady named… Lita leads the Razor Girls, a group of rad women who slice and dice enemies. Tim- freaking-Curry is the leather-fantastic, demonic bad guy. And somehow, despite the budget and the soundtrack and the talent list—usually the harbingers of incredible polish and frankly safe or boring ideas— Brütal Legend is such a lovably weird and warm game.
It's decked out in statues and impossible architecture, with animals and monsters and demons that speak to the not-subtle, emotional, wild aesthetic of 70s-to-80s metal album covers. It has a whole bunch of Heavy Metal DNA, and while it winks and nods at all flavors of rock, it remains completely internally consistent. It's earnest and genuinely affectionate towards a movement that wore its heart on its sleeve (or loincloth, or studded leather jacket).
I haven't played through the full game in years, but I'll never forget Eddie and his unashamed love of music, or Ophelia and her descent into the Sea of Tears. Or main baddie Doviculus and the way he just delights in the pain you unleash on him in the final boss battle. Maybe these are people from a place that sounds so silly on paper, but the game believed in them throughout, and so did I.
Even though Double Fine made Costume Quest and its sequel—games centered on trick or treating—I actually think their Brütal Legend is the ultimate Halloween game. It's bloody and gory. It's ALL ABOUT playing dress-up and make believe. It takes a little horror and a whole lot of face paint and pageantry, garnishes it with pure candy, and lets you pretend, just a little bit, that you are just so awesome.
There's no BS. There's no self-consciousness. There's only metal.