Where has the joy gone?
Serious Sam 4 it’s almost a carbon copy of the previous games in the series, with a little more emphasis on the story and some technical magic tricks that allow the developer to simultaneously show a huge number of enemies on the screen. However, none of these things really make a difference to the gaming experience.
I have so many fond memories of playing past games. Serious Sam’s releases have always been simple things with lots of guns and lots of enemies, and they give their best when played to fast background music.
The franchise offered an even more foolish approach to action than fast-paced first-person shooters like the Doom and Quake series, without any bossy aesthetics or even hints of realism. I can̵
Serious Sam returns and repeats
Serious Sam’s last main game was Serious Sam 3: BFE, released in 2011. That game introduced iron sights and formula racing, which were barely incremental improvements, but the new game doesn’t even go that far. Serious Sam 4 it’s just more than what I already expected from developer Croteam, built with an updated version of the Serious Engine.
Previous games in the series weren’t broke, and their design certainly hasn’t been fixed Serious Sam 4. The aliens have taken over the planet and Sam Stone is here to make jokes and send them all back to hell. Like the other games in the franchise, this is another first person shooter with large environments, hordes of enemies to kill, and a variety of weapons, each suited to a specific tactical need, which should be used in turn when the action takes place. requires. I spent most of my time running backwards in the large open areas of the game, turning from side to side to avoid getting hit and keeping an eye on my ammo while also analyzing the level to heal items and armor .
Serious Sam 4 it forces me to keep multiple things in my head at once, coupled with a willingness to change tactics once another wave of enemies approaches to keep me busy. There are skeletal beasts that throw bones and gallop at me, diving to slash my face with their claws. There are the notorious headless enemies screaming (through neck holes, I guess) as they run towards me, wielding explosives to make sure it doesn’t put me at ease in one spot for too long; belching and vomiting beasts covered with pustules; and more.
Enemy design has always been one of Croteam’s strengths. Each type of enemy is easy to identify, even from a distance, and each provides hints on their number, direction and attacks through sound and visual. Handling each enemy threat without making myself vulnerable to the next is an important part of Serious Sam’s magic, and that challenge comes to this game too.
There is very little real-world logic at play here. Instead, the game works by the cool rule: Sam can carry all these weapons at once because it’s nice to have an arsenal. Enemies can move wherever Sam is, in any number they want, because he’s bound to be overwhelmed. The story has Sam trying to literally find the Ark of the Covenant to save the world.
Why not, right?
Problem is, I’ve played this game before, multiple times. The effect of being nearly overwhelmed, while usually barely maintaining control, wears off with repetition. The engine can’t keep up with situations taking place in the game or with the increased emphasis on secondary characters and conversation. This is especially noticeable when there is a lull for conversations and everyone’s face looks a little dull, or when enemies look confused by their numbers and stand, waiting to be eliminated.
So why do we need another Serious Sam game now? I don’t know, and Croteam didn’t seem to have a good answer to offer either. While id Software found a way to keep the tone and ideas behind the Doom series intact, expanding into the game and design with Destiny (2016) and Doom Eternal, Croteam seems too passionate about the basic Serious Sam experience to try something so bold. So we’re left with a reconstruction of past games, with some impressive vistas full of enemies and not much else.
It’s not bad, but again, the joy of the old games feels like it’s been squeezed out of repetition and the lack of forward movement. There isn’t enough here to allow Serious Sam 4 to compete with the other great first person shooters of the year. However, perhaps hardcore fans will be comforted by the return of a series that barely changes, even after nearly a decade away.
Serious Sam 4 is now available on Windows PC and Stadia and will arrive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2021. The game was played on PC using a download code provided by Devolver Digital. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy Here.