General game information
Game name: Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour
Release date: June 20, 2017
Price: US$ 14.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Top-down shooter
Developer: Crackshell, Croteam
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Croteam has been working with other independent developers on Serious Sam spin-offs since 2011’s Serious Sam: Double D. It’s a nice way of keeping the franchise alive without having to rely on yearly releases like big name publishers do, and it shines a much needed spotlight on great teams that would otherwise be ignored by the majority of the gamer population. Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour continues this tradition, as Croteam has joined forces with Crackshell (of Hammerwatch fame) to release a top down twin stick shooter that aims to recreate the feeling of the mainline Serious Sam titles from a new perspective.
Setting and story
Sam Stone is back and he needs to traverse a number of ancient Earth locales in order to give Mental’s hordes a run for their money. As any Serious Sam fan worth their salt may know, Croteam‘s flagship franchise isn’t known for its deep storyline, and this spin-off will not buck that trend (in fact, it readily dismisses the notion of things such as cutscenes, presenting us with a screen that proudly proclaims its disgust for long opening cinematics in lieu of a “proper” intro sequence). There aren’t any memorable characters other than Sam himself (voiced by the always excellent John J. Dick) and players looking for a story above all else should probably avoid this title.
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is a top down twin stick shooter with RPG elements. Playing as Sam, we’ll move through huge, open levels, searching for colored keys and bosses in order to progress to the next map.
Mental’s hordes will often jump us in relatively small spaces, forcing us to quickly prioritize certain targets over others, and control our ammunition expenditures, as we never know if a bigger foe will challenge us as soon as we deal with the enemies at hand. Bogus Detour never shies away from an opportunity to ambush the player with well placed headless kamikazes or frenzied Kleer warriors, and this relentless assault, coupled with the extensive armament at our disposal serves as a firm reminder that we aren’t playing just any other twin stick shooter.
The game’s wide open levels hide plenty of secrets, and if we know where to look we’ll soon be carrying an arsenal that would make Duke Nukem himself feel like a choir boy. Aside from weapons, we may also find sunglasses which act as extra lives, as well as powerful limited time combat boosters and experience points that can be used to upgrade Sam’s abilities. A simple skill tree offers increased ammo limits, extra health gained from medikits, the ability to ricochet bullets off walls, and many more useful upgrades. I’m still not completely sure about the benefits of an RPG-like upgrade system for a Serious Sam game, but I can’t deny that there is a real sense of progression as we advance through the story leveling up our hero, and I don’t think that Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour suffers from this choice, even if purists may hate it at first. That said, if we don’t take the time to scour the levels looking for experience points, we’ll probably feel like the leveling pace is quite slow and this can negatively affect our gaming experience.
Still, as we said earlier, this game masterfully channels the energy of the mainline Serious Sam titles, throwing hordes at enemies at us at every chance it gets, and showering the player with fan favorite weapons such as the super shotgun, cannon, rocket launcher, minigun and laser rifle, to name a few. Blowing up screaming masses of headless kamikazes with a well placed shot is as satisfying as ever, and the boss fights that punctuate each level offer an adequate level of challenge without getting to the point of feeling unfair (although I wouldn’t recommend starting the game on the max difficulty level without having beaten it at least once at a lower setting, as later maps can get quite tricky if we don’t know what dangers lie ahead).
If we are vanquished, we’ll respawn at the nearest checkpoint and one life will be deducted from our pool (which starts at three in the normal difficulty level, but we can find many extra lives hidden on each level). There are no manual save options, sadly, and if we are playing in co-op and we run out of lives, we’ll have to spectate our friends as they continue to run through the level.
Aside from the main campaign, which can be played in singleplayer or with friends (up to 4 officially, but there’s a Workshop mod that lifts this cap) we may also attempt to survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies in the Survival mode, or engage in good old Deathmatch, murdering our friends with casual abandon in 12-player matches. If that’s not our thing, we may also try our hand at the included level editor, a powerful tool that can be used to create singleplayer scenarios or multiplayer maps. All the content created with the editor can be uploaded to the Steam Workshop, letting other players download our creations with just a few clicks.
Graphics, sound and performance
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is a beautiful looking game in its own way, with detailed sprites taking the place of the 3D models that helped popularize Croteam’s classic series and smooth animations breathing life into every moving character. Pixel-art fans will definitely be pleased with Crackshell‘s work, and I never had any trouble distinguishing different pickups or enemy classes, something that can be an issue in other titles that try to go for a similar look.
The game’s sound and music also deserve a lot of praise, as every weapon feels powerful, and the soundtrack accompanies the action nicely. Familiar enemy growls are back for this spin-off, and being able to recognize them will be crucial if we intend to defeat Mental’s bloodthirsty hordes (the AAAAAAAH yourself! voice line is not present in this game, sadly).
Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is an excellent twin stick shooter that perfectly recreates the feeling of the mainline Serious Sam titles from a new perspective. The newly introduced RPG mechanics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but on the whole, Crackshell‘s latest release is a resounding success.