Press Start Review: Seraph

I’ve written this review a few times, and I’ve found this game kind of hard to describe… but it’s been like two months since it came out, so I’ll try one more time: This game is what would happen if you threw the Bible and DVDS of the Matrix into a blender, boiled the resulting slurry into a concentrate, then tricked John Woo into drinking the whole thing while dancing at a rave.

An action packed, exciting platformer, Seraph delivers on its promise of fast paced shooting, potentially devastating powers, and most importantly – no aiming required. Your job is not to point the gun. Your job is to keep Seraph safe while SHE points the gun. Overall, Dreadbit keeps the pressure on while maintaining a great difficulty curve, which in a game like this is key to a good time.

While you are jumping around, shooting demons with guns ranging from the classic dual pistols to futuristic rail guns, the difficulty of the game goes up and down depending on how well you are doing in the moment. If you are getting smashed, the enemies ease up on you. If you are slaughtering everything, leaving a bloody path in your wake, the game ups the ante. It’s a system that, upon reflection, I realized was there.

So this is an important point – the game says that it has a variable difficulty system. It’s right on the steam page…. and I didn’t really think about that until I started writing this review. All I knew was I didn’t get bored. I have been playing this game for 27 hours now, and it still feels as fresh as it did when I had just been playing for 6 hours. This is pretty weird, and frankly I don’t know what kind of dark arts they are casting at the Dredbit offices.

There are multiple weapons, powers, and charms to season the game to taste, but the most important thing you’ll think about is your Oaths… enhancements to your core abilities and stats. A role playing element is tucked away here, and trying to figure out where to put what bonuses scratches that strategic itch I might be getting.

Of course nothing but heaven is perfect, so there are a few issues I found; one of which is the story… it is presented through short conversations at the beginning and end of each level and it really suffers from that. I felt like I was coming into the middle of a book… everyone referring to people, places, and concepts that I either missed or just weren’t introduced in a way that I could absorb. The game levels are all procedurally generated, so there isn’t really anything substantive connecting the environment to the storyline… which is you are an angel riding in a woman’s body, and you are trapped in a prison with a bunch of demons that you have to shoot in the face. That’s really all I got out of it… which is too bad because there is a lot of information there. It seems to suffer from “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Syndrome.

There are daily and weekly challenges, which also keep the game fresh hours after you get to the final boss, but in some ways those just highlight that same issue – the storyline doesn’t actually need to be there for the game to be as fun as it is. It’s almost a distraction… an unwanted break in the flow of the action.

The reason I’m harping on that so much is because other than that, the game is fun as all hell, so the flaw really shows, which is unfortunate.

That said, seriously, if you want to shoot a bunch of demons and use awesome powers, if you like beautifully created games, if you like techno music… go get this game.

Rating: Stayed up 1 out 5 hours past bed time.

Listen to Press Start to Continue every Monday at 9pm on WXOJ-LP valleyfreeradio.org

 

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