Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour Review – A Pixelated Mess?
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release: 20th June 2017
Oh, the Serious Sam franchise, what a great mix of stupid but amazingly fast gameplay against hordes of enemies. Being one of my favourite Shooter series, naturally every spin-off or sequel gets me excited, even a top down Shooter like Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour. Being from the creators of Hammerwatch I actually had hopes for it becoming a really cool game, despite its seemingly unrelated graphic style and gameplay. After some time with it I can now confirm: Overall, yes, it´s pretty decent, suffering from only a few throwbacks. So, let´s take an in-depth look at it!
If you expected any kind of story here, I have to disappoint you. From level to level we may be presented with an artwork, underlined by some basic story, telling us nothing more than the most basic stuff. However, it´s kinda sad to not have any kind of cutscenes whatsoever, letting it feel kinda low budget for such a big franchise as Serious Sam.
The gameplay on the other hand feels pretty good, being able to wreck tons of enemies, while dodging dozens of attacks, simply feels great. During the game a wide range of weapons is presented to us, everything form pistols to rocket launchers and even the hammer is here. However, most of them will be found in the first levels with little variation to come, making the weapons pretty repetitive because they lack any kind of originality. Everything about the general gunplay just feels very familiar, no original weapons, effects or other new mechanics, making it work and feel like every other top down shooter before it, good but familiar.
Unfortunately, this doesn´t apply to the movement, the biggest let-down of Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour, at least in my opinion. I expected a fast run’n gun, yet got a slow, unresponsive movement, solely relying on dodges, which are limited in number, to quickly move on the map. Compared to enemies and their attack speed, Sam feels out of place, as soon as we carry a weapon heavier than a pistol. Nearly every enemy is faster in every way, nearly every walking section becomes a pain in the ass and nearly every encounter relies on our dodge move to quickly evade at all. It feels like merging together two speeds. It may be hugely subjective but I don´t think anything else than using pistols really fit into the game movement-wise, due to the huge slowdown.
Especially during the extensive walking sections of the levels, caused by bad objective design, said movement really becomes a true fun killer. All of Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour´s levels are pretty big, taking up to 30 minutes to finish them, sounds good right? Not really, considering you have to walk through these huge areas, often full of giant zones in which you have to find certain objects and destroy them. As previously said, you´re not moving really fast and your dodges are limited, resulting a very cautious, slow playstyle in areas you´re unfamiliar with. Additionally the game makes heavy use of the well known and hated keycard collections systems, enhancing our already amazing movement experience by forcing us to search giant maps for one specific location.
Variety is also one of the things Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour often lacks, when it comes to textures. Of course, on first glance the used pixel art looks pretty great, very similar to Hammerwatch´s resolution and art choice, making it a very pretty game on screenshots. Yet, they didn´t obviously have time for much of them, since every level repeats the same ones over and over again, during its pretty long playtime, leading to some inevitable confusion. Enemies are also a special case, since most of them can´t really catch the spirit of Serious Sam and I sometimes wondered what they tried to resemble, except our beloved AAAAAAAH guy, oh please never change. Often they even reused assets from their desert area in other zones or reskined enemies. There simply isn´t much variety nor “Serious Sam” here.
Luckily, the implemented Steam Workshop and Level Editor can hopefully deliver some neat new assets, level and enemies, fixing what the developers didn´t quite nail. Generally, seeing a game supporting so much user created content always makes me happy, in combination with the Co-op campaign and multiplayer Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour can deliver quite some replay value. Sadly, the Multiplayer is pretty bad, since everyone is super slow, often shooting in every angle of the screen hoping to hit something.
All in all, Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour would be a decent top down Shooter, not reinventing the wheel but copying what works, putting it in a new skin and selling it. Unfortunately, poor design choices, like the maps and especially the movement, hinder it at being a good game. Whenever I found myself playing it, I noticed how much fun I had with other games and how generic this one truly is. Considering they had the Serious Sam license, they could have done some pretty crazy stuff, however decided to opt for a very traditional approach, thrown a Co-op option, multiplayer and Workshop in and called it a day.
Don´t get me wrong, it´s fun to shoot hundreds of little enemies, hearing some cool Sam lines, and seeing all the blood spill on the ground, the surrounding systems just aren´t that good, lacking a true spirit or intention. Basically, Serious Sam´s Bogus Detour is a generic top down Shooter with some bigger flaws, nothing more, nothing less.
[A Review Code was provided by Devolver Digital]