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Serious Sam's Bogus Detour

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Crackshell
Release Date: June 20, 2017


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PC Review - 'Serious Sam's Bogus Detour'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 14, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Serious Sam's Bogus Detour is an all-new retro-styled action-adventure in the legendary Serious Sam saga.

Ever since Croteam's decision to lend out its Serious Sam license to anyone wanting to use it for other genres, it's something of a surprise that it has taken this long for a twin-stick shooter to appear. The frantic action inherent to the genre seems like a perfect match for what the original first-person shooter offered, but it apparently seemed more appealing to place the hero in less-familiar genres. Nevertheless, Serious Sam's Bogus Detour finally merges the chaos of the original title with 360-degree, twin-stick shooting, and it does so with good results.

You play the role of a monster or alien who's playing a Serious Sam game. In the actual game, you once again play Sam, a man being thrown around different locales and time periods and tasked with killing the evil overlord Mental and his horde of monsters. Luckily, you have firepower at your disposal and are only glad to use it all.

Those familiar with twin-stick shooters and Serious Sam in general have an idea of what to expect, and they'd be mostly right. Lots of weapons are at your disposal, including chain guns, rocket launchers, shotguns and tommy guns. There are a few new weapons, like a staff that shoots large electrical bolts and a gun that fires bouncing razor discs. There are familiar enemies, like the headless suicide bombers and Kleer skeletons, but their numbers have increased greatly. Monster closets ensure that you're always fighting, even when you just want to look around a stage. Boss fights are tough enough that you'll survive by the skin of your teeth.

There are some additions that are expected but still welcome. In combat, you have a dodge roll instead of a jump, so you can put some breathing room between yourself and a horde closing in on you. Dodging isn't infinite, though, as you have a stamina meter specifically for that maneuver. It refills quickly, but it means you have to plan out exactly when to dodge. The other new addition is an XP and leveling system, which almost every game seems to have. Killing enemies gives you XP and leveling up gives you stars, which you'll also find in hidden areas of the map. Those stars are your currency for buffing up, like adding stopping power for your weapons or better defenses.

Compared to other indie runs at the license, Bogus Detour makes the most sense because of how well it emulates the source material, so fans will be pleased. Battles in the Serious Sam titles are frantic affairs, and the increased enemy count here amplifies that. The abundance of weapons and ammo means that you'll rarely have to rely on your fists to get out of a jam. Like the originals, secrets abound here, so you're rewarded for your curiosity.

If there is one thing that will bother some players, it is the overall length of each level. The game sports 10 stages overall, but each one is quite massive. They're so large that unless you're playing on the easiest difficulty level or using cheats to modify other elements like damage, it can take an average of an hour to complete a stage. There are a few checkpoints per level, and you have a few lives to work with, but if you lose them all, you'll restart at the very beginning of the stage. Without the ability to quick save, this can be brutal, as the increased enemy count and the vicious bosse means that you'll spend loads of time replaying the same stages before you can properly move on.

While the game can be played solo, there are a number of multiplayer modes. Co-op for the main campaign supports up to four players, and there's a horde mode that's also good for four players, though some may question the need for that since the campaign is already teeming with a plethora of enemies. The game also sports both free-for-all and team varieties of deathmatch for up to 12 people. Longtime fans will note those numbers are rather paltry since the first-person shooters were running with up to 16 players for both deathmatch and the co-op campaign, but this title has more enemies at any one time than the first-person shooter does.

The problem is that the online community for the game is rather small, if almost nonexistent. In the time we reviewed this title, we found no one running a game for others to join. When we tried to host our own game, no one came to join for almost 30 minutes. We're told that the ability to have local multiplayer is coming soon, but until then, you might as well treat this as a purely solo experience.

Then again, it seems as if the player base is much livelier when it comes to building stages and mods. There are quite a few items in the Steam Workshop that show off the creativity of the community, such as a mode that lets a limitless number of players into the campaign, new overall campaigns, and even a Bomberman clone. It helps that the game automatically comes with modding tools that are easy enough to use.

If you're familiar with the developer's first game, Hammerwatch, then you'll know exactly what to expect from the presentation. The long stages mean that the music can seem to drone on forever, but the constant switching from calmer exploration songs to a more action-packed vibe keeps things moving along. The effects sound exactly like they did in the original shooter, while Sam's voice is just as gruff and charming as ever. Elsewhere, the environments are rendered nicely, and the game seems to handle things well, as it has no issues holding up high frame rates while showing off loads of blood, body parts and enemies on-screen. The only issue comes from the small stature of the enemies, so it's rather difficult to tell them apart or make them instantly recognizable.

Your enjoyment of Serious Sam's Bogus Detour is going to depend on your enjoyment of overly difficult shooters and your need for multiplayer. If the idea of having to traverse very large levels with the distinct possibility of starting all over when you lose all of your lives infuriates you, then this might not be the best game to play. If you want to engage in co-op or adversarial multiplayer, then make sure to convince friends to buy it since the online population is more interested in creating stages and mods than actually playing the core game. For everyone else, Bogus Detour is a solid shooter that is challenging, engaging and worth checking out.

Score: 7.5/10

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