You keep knocking them down, but they just come right back. Mental’s forces are yet again polluting the time stream. It is up to you, Serious Sam, to blow them and their machinations away. Luckily, probably because of all of Mental’s mucking about in time, there are a lot more laser cannons in ancient times then there should be. It’s time to get… serious.
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is a top down shooter in which players collect guns, upgrade Sam, and explore maze-like levels. All while blowing away a constant stream of enemies. Game play itself is very straight forward, drawing generously from retro shooters, with fast gun-play and an abundance of targets to shoot at.
The player can move freely about, with advancement impeded by doors locked with colour coded passes. Collect the passes, open the doors, proceed to the next area. It is a familiar formula. There are also walls or objects which can be destroyed, revealing hidden passages and rooms. In fact, each level is littered with secrets, collectables and gags.
As players progress they will amass a small arsenal of weapons. These include classics like the shotgun and minigun, and more exotic constructions like The Cutter or The Shaft. Each gun is different to the next with varying ranges, damage outputs and clip sizes. It can be fun trying out new weapons when you find them, but there will be certain choices which fit a player’s style and will see frequent use.
What are weapons, though, without something to use them against? The enemies in Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour are a mixture pulled from all the Serious Sam games, with a couple of originals thrown in for good measure. Each enemy is different, and offers a unique obstacle to the player. These challenges are escalated with increasing numbers, or different mixes, of types of enemies.
Defeating enemies and collecting experience generates Stars for the player. There are also Stars hidden around levels which can be picked up. These Stars are used to upgrade Sam, by spending them on a selection of abilities or characteristic increases. The system is very simple, with choices in Combat, Survival or Weaponry. While the upgrades largely supply passive effects, the ability for a player to tailor their Sam is a great incentive to see the whole game through.
There is a lot to do, but players don’t have to face the hordes of evil alone. Online multiplayer is supported, with up to four players able to join forces. It is fun mowing down enemies with your friends, but it doesn’t change the overall game a lot. Hotseat multiplayer is slated for a future update, though.
Those familiar with the Serious Sam franchise will immediately recognise the sound effects and music. The familiar gruff voice of Sam is present, along with classics like clanging armour and screaming Beheaded Kamikaze soldiers. In keeping with the retro-inspired game play the graphics use a pixel-art approach. This is melded with a variety of modern environmental and lighting effects to create a rich world which is very detailed.
While the Bogus Detour adventure is a major draw-card of the game, it isn’t the sole focus. Packed into the purchase is an editor, which allows for the creation of standalone levels or entire campaigns. These don’t even have to be friendly co-op fares, with options for formats like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. However, the editor isn’t very intuitive, and so those interested in creating levels will have to invest some time in learning how to use the system.
Because Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour draws from a well explored genre, most of the problems are very minor. The method for upgrading, checking missions and other general in-game upkeep is very clunky. There are lots of menus and tabs to go through, and while the retro theme is attractive, the antiquated ponderous nature of the system is not. An onscreen timer would have been nice, especially since times to complete levels are provided upon completion.
Most annoying of all is the weapon select wheel. When using a gamepad players are forced to cycle clockwise through every option. Especially frustrating when the weapon you want to choose is the one before that currently selected, but also a bane on the quick gameplay when trying to swap weapons during furious combats. The keyboard is a little more forgiving, with the ability to quickly go to a section of weapons with a number key. But largely the same issues remain.
(Editors Note: You can choose to have the wheel NOT appear when changing weapons using the keyboard numerals and thus not clogging the screen up. This is found in the game options.)
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is, at its heart, a fast shooter which offers a tonne of variety. Multiplayer and the upgrade system provide some replayability, but for a truly ongoing experience players will need to look into the downloadable levels people have created. The Serious Sam franchise does translate really well into this genre, however, and the developers at Crackshell and Croteam have obviously put a lot of love and attention into creating this game.
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is developed by Crackshell and Croteam, and published by Devolver Digital. It is available now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 14 hours