Publisher: Devolver Digital
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Also available on: Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC.
Release: 8th Dec 2021
Most memorable quote - ‘This is some Da Vinci Code shit’ – I can’t remember which character.
Serving as a prequel to Serious Sam 3, Serious Sam 4 is yet another addition to the parody throwback series, satirising various old school Macho First Person Shooter games from the 90’s, while still being it’s own thing that works well. Originally released in 2020, Serious Sam 4 delivers a non-stop campaign filled with a tonne (oh so many) enemies to defeat and side missions to discover alongside the main missions. Most recently in December 2021 however, Serious Sam 4 received a next gen upgrade and was added to Xbox’s Netflix for games, Xbox Game Pass. For someone who has never played A Serious Sam game before, this felt like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So, what did I think of a game series I have never played before while playing this game on my fresh Xbox Series X? Let’s dive in head first into a horde of enemies….
The story begins with Serious Sam (who I can see is very serious) being sent to Rome to look for a guy named Father Mikhail, who may hold the clue to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail contains an artifact to defeating the Mental (aliens) who have invaded on earth. The narrative unfolds in a linear fashion, but with room for exploration in side missions. The story focuses on the Freedom and Resistances against the Alien invaders. Throughout the story you come across a variation of enemy hordes and other characters you meet up with along your mission to complete your objective. Along the way you run into some pretty insane moments and ah, yes of course alongside betrayals, deaths and an enormous spectacle of enemies running at you 88 miles per hour.
The story takes around 10-11ish hours (depending on your play style can be less or more) and I felt that it was just enough hours for this story to unravel without it being over the top- too much. I don’t really have anything to say in regards to the story itself as I enjoyed the gameplay more than I did with the story which is saying something significant, as I personally usually focus on the narrative in games. It’s a fairly basic concept; Main protagonist is tasked with an *impossible* task with numerous obstacles lobbed at you, and your goal is to secure freedom for all people on Earth with a slice of humour weaved in. I thought the story was…okay, but it overall didn’t affect me i.e it’s not a story that will stay with me, nor the characters. I felt pretty mixed with this because on one hand I didn’t mind the game, but I just couldn’t really get into it as much as I had hoped. For me it wasn’t until Chapter 9 when I started to enjoy the story a little bit more, but a lot of that also had to do with the variation of gameplay. Which leads into the next point of this review;
Ooooh I found the gameplay loads of fun most of the time, however some parts did become a little pesky at times. The entire point of the game is that you’re continuously defeating an entire horde, however as I mentioned it can become irritating especially when all the enemies are swarming at you at what feels like 100 miles per hour. Some enemies (aka those bloody Kamikazee guys!!!!!!) will run at you with bombs, and you won’t even have much time to react. They can sometimes pop up in all different directions at once within a second, and it can become overwhelmingly annoying. While it is fun and still feels satisfying to kill every enemy with a machine gun or grenade gun (especially the Kamikazee guys) this game 100% for those who want a good challenge on the hardest mode this game can offer. Seriously credit to whoever has played this game on the highest difficulty!
As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t until Chapter 9 when I felt things started to amp up a bit more. In chapter 9, you have more variation in how to kill enemies, including using a farm vehicle so you’re literally mowing them down with the combine. You know, that large vehicle with the extremely sharp cutting blades? Oh yes. That was an immaculate amount of fun. Not to mention using mechas as well. While on the topic of vehicles however there are sections you have to use a motorbike for, and unfortunately the riding felt strange and too off balance. It can drift on its own and it’s slightly frustrating to control. Thankfully you only use the motorbike for a short amount of time so it doesn’t become a chore after a while.
Using LB (I kept pressing Y) brings up your weapon wheel that includes a variation of weapons to use across the 15 chapters this game has to offer. (Though shocking but not surprising at times you do lose all your weapons). I liked that you can switch between first or third person with the D pad, and I personally found the experience much better in third person. I found the first person mode a little clunky and difficult to see at times. I’m usually quite good with FPS, but this game in FPS didn’t feel right to me. Again, it’s just up to your style and what you prefer. Overall I did enjoy the gameplay variation, though it did take me a while to stop pressing Y to switch weapons.
Composed by Damjan Mravunac, the soundtrack provides a bit of a Doom-esque feel to it (which is not at all a bad thing at all). The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me in particular, but I do think the entire soundtrack was still well done, and fit in well with the theme of the game. As well as throwing homages to 90’s FPS soundtracks, yet still remaining to still be it’s serious self. With a mix of some vocals, guitars and drum beats while you’re blasting, shooting and gutting your enemies into pieces, the soundtrack feels just right.
The graphics and performance was nothing significantly good to say. A little underwhelming, and it sometimes could be a bit choppy (though not often thankfully) and some areas of the map didn’t load in properly. While I’m all for still enjoying a game even with these minor issues, it’s a shame that it hadn’t been patched to the extent it should have, and even as a new generation game upgrade it was a bit disappointing to see it in that state. The game sometimes took a while to load into the next level, but otherwise it ran just fine.
For me? No. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience a Serious Sam game, but no I would not go out of my way to play this again. However, I would highly recommend this to players who already have Xbox game pass, and are looking for a new challenge to beat. Whether it be to get every achievement or to just have that hardcore experience and discover every story this game has to offer in the Serious Sam universe.
If you want every achievement or trophy, you’ll have to spend a bit of time and effort dedicating your soul.. err.. I mean time to nab every single one.
As this was my first stepping stone into the Serious Sam series, I was kind of expecting myself to enjoy this a bit more. It has everything I like; including being a satirical parody of beloved FPS shooters, some humorous dialogue, banter and a s***load of excellent weapons of choice. While I felt the story was fairly basic and not particularly memorable, I do praise the satisfying gameplay for the most part, a decent soundtrack alongside your missions, and the refreshing change of location being set in Europe of course. Serious Sam 4 still provides some fun, but just not as much as one was hoping.