Maybe there’s some alternate timeline out there where FromSoft earned its global reputation well before Demon’s Souls’ hard-edged fantasy, where maybe its breakthrough game was another of its many cult classics. Maybe it’s one where Metal Wolf Chaos’ audience wasn’t limited to original Xbox owners in Japan – all twelve of them – and found its way westwards, where its offbeat brand of absurdist humour and mech-fuelled destruction got the widespread recognition it deserved.
Actually, maybe it’s better that things worked out the way they did, because the circumstances behind Metal Wolf Chaos XD are perfect, a throwaway tweet from publisher Devolver during the fateful US election campaign of 2016 setting in motion this most unlikely of remasters. It can be hard slotting Metal Wolf Chaos into From Software’s back catalogue, as diverse as that back catalogue may be – it’s got mechs, but it lacks the depth or precision of Armored Core, while its set-up has the same scrappy schlock of Ninja Blade, but there’s a gleeful delirium that’s all its own.
Really, though, Metal Wolf Chaos feels like the ur-Devolver game. It’s third-person action with grit, a taste for the outlandish and an irresistible elevator pitch that’s then played out with spark and spunk. You’re Michael Wilson, US President, facing up to a coup d’etat from your veep who manages to secure control of the country’s military. So you take the most rational course of action: strap into your secret mechsuit, commandeer Air Force One and plot a path from San Francisco all the way to the east coast as you fight to win back the grand old US of A.