Things You Might Like
- Frenetic Gameplay
- Old-School Turn-based Role Playing Game combat
- Rockin’ art style
- Hilarious Dialogue
- Awesomely ridiculous enemies
Things You Might Not Like
- It’s pretty short
- Retro art/music
Serious Sam: The Random Encounter captures the series’ well known ridiculousness inside a format that, frankly, no one would have seen coming.
4 out of 5 Things Shot
For those of you who grew up playing PC games or if you’re new to the platform but are a fan of the ridiculous, you know Serious Sam. He’s one of the Godfathers of the First Person Shooter (FPS). Sam, Duke Nukem, and the guy from Doom (and his close friend the guy from Wolfenstein) taught the world about how great it is to shoot things, and to shoot those things a lot. Over the years, the Serious Sam series stuck to its roots with over the top action and enemies coupled with almost no story. In short, it’s the classic FPS without any of the frills.
Now, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is NOT that game. It’s not an FPS. It’s really an ’S’ either. It’s a stripped down RPG that focuses on what Serious Sam does best: Fight. In Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, you play as the eponymous hero, Sam, in his quest to kill Mental, the series’ villain. You start off on a simple looking map reminiscent of Final Fantasy I. However, rather than any towns or deeper levels, there is only this type of map throughout the entire game. You must get from the entrance to the exit and, guess what, randomly encounter hordes of enemies along the way. It’s about as straight-forward as you can get.
Now, while I said this was an RPG, I was using the term loosely. There’s no term for a ’2D Turn-Based Sidescrolling Action Game’. Or maybe I just invented it. This game could be the progenitor of that genre. Though, after looking at that acronym, let’s ditch that term. So, whatever type of game Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is, it’s a fun one. You start off with just Sam, but gain two equally powerful allies as you progress through the brief adventure. All of them are named ‘Sam’, by the way.
Combat happens in brief 5 second intervals at a time. Before the active segment of combat, you have three options. Fight, Switch, or Item. Simple, right? Well, mostly. The Fight option uses the gun you have equipped on the Sam of your choice. Once selected, you choose the path which your weapons fire will travel. For some it’s a straight shot (Minigun, Sniper Rifle) and others it’s a cone (Rocket Launcher) or general area (Shotgun, Grenade Launcher). Once you’ve set the line of fire for all of your Sams, the action begins and your boys start shooting things. It is important to note that they are not stationary. Rather, all three heroes are moved simultaneously via the keyboard. This is to help you dodge incoming fire and also align your fire to enemies’ faces. This is the crux of the gameplay. It’s literal running and gunning, with breaks every five seconds to plan out your next move. The Switch option allows you to swap your Sam’s current weapon for a different one, but bear in mind it does take time to switch weapons which means less damage being done. Similarly, Item will allow you to have a Sam use one of several items to restore your team or crush your foes. Some are just plain weird. I’ll let you see for yourself.
Serious Sam: The Random Encounter adopts the look that many independent games are taking to please their nostalgic creators and audience. The sprite-based graphics help to define the game as something not-so-serious and also appeal to the old-school gamers. The sprites and world have enough detail to keep the player from wondering just what they are looking at, but don’t have the polished look that you find in some of the Final Fantasy remakes. The classic enemies from the Serious Sam universe are all present, which should please fans of the series. In addition to the retro-inspired graphics, the soundtrack also delivers an amped up, midi symphony. I find myself wishing I could buy the soundtrack and mix it in with my favorite tracks from Super Meat Boy and Bit.Trip Beat. Alas, it doesn’t seem possible at this time.
It’s worth noting that what little dialog exists is pretty funny. I laughed a couple of times at how direct the game was about the purpose. You’re there to shoot things. The characters hardly speak of anything else in the brief moments between maps. When they do speak, they reiterate that there’s no sense wasting time that could be spent shooting things. No plans, just guns.
When you get right down to it, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is a awesome little title that is completely worth your $5. It won’t change your life, but it’s a great distraction for an hour. Go get it.