Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is developed by Vlambeer and published by Croteam Ltd and Devolver Digital as the final third of the Serious Sam indie series. It is an RPG that is heavily influenced by JRPGs and the Serious Sam games.
After a short introduction to the game you get stuck right into the action with Sam moving around a map, square by square towards each level’s exit. As you move around you come across random encounters where a large group of enemies will set upon you. At the beginning it is only Sam but eventually you find another two party members; Bim and Bam to help you fight your way to Mental.
The battle system is based around a 5 second turn where you choose what weapons each character uses, where they shoot or whether they should forgo shooting in order to use an item. Your party is always moving backwards while the horde of enemies runs towards you, sometimes charging into you and sometimes just shooting at you from close range. As you fire you can move your party up and down to adjust lines of fire and to dodge enemies and attacks. Clearing a battle will replenish your health to full (including reviving fallen party members) and give you experience which fills a XP bar; when the XP bar fills you gain a new item. Boss battles see you trying to defeat the large bosses as quickly as possible; otherwise the horde of minions will eventually (after 4 or so turns) overwhelm you. You can lose up to 3 times in each level before you have to restart it, but there aren’t any consequences other than that.
Each weapon has its own unique style of attack and the usefulness varies greatly between weapons. The weapons are: Revolvers, Shotgun, Minigun, Grenade Launcher, Rocket Launcher, Laser, Sniper and Cannon. Revolvers are the first and most basic weapon; they deal low damage and attack the closest enemy. Shotguns can be set to fire when enemies come within a specified range; dealing more damage the lower the set range. Miniguns are probably the most useful as they have full range and fire the most shots for the full 5 seconds in a straight line. Grenade launcher does a large amount of damage in a specific area but the travel time on the grenade makes it almost useless most of the time as enemies will move out of range. Rocket Launchers fire a single salvo of 3 rockets in a cone which deal high damage but leave you open to attack. The Laser fires a stream of 3 parallel beams that knock enemies back and deal low damage. The Sniper deals high damage with a single shot that pieces enemies down a straight line. Finally the Cannon takes a single turn to charge then unleashes a wide spread attack down a line on the next turn that kills any standard enemy in one and deals a large portion of damage to any bosses.
After completion an Endless Mode unlocks that lets you test out your skills for as long as you can survive or as long as you can stomach the difficulty.
The game uses a high res pixel art style which good and fits the game well. The battles quickly get filled with hordes of enemies which are instantly discernable from each other but the bullet hell that can appear will leave you drowning in a sea of blue or yellow projectiles. The bosses are the real set pieces as they are all very unique and unlike some RPGs they look the part of a tough boss as well as actually (mostly) being one. The areas you travel around are pretty bland in comparison to the rest of the game as they serve the purpose of making it a trek to get to the exit and little else. The chiptune music is good and suits the game but aren’t really memorable at all. Most of the battles you will just hear the firing of your weapons and the death cries of your enemies and little else.
Presentation and Audio
The strong art style that is the most memorable part of the game and sets the game further from usual Serious Sam games then many of the others. Some reasonable chiptune music to listen to in the background keeps the game flowing.
While this is supposed to be a far cry from the normal Serious Sam games it is probably the most similar in terms of design as you still fight back hordes of enemies. The gameplay is fun but unrefined and could easily be improved upon with some weapon balancing and a difficulty tweak as currently the curve is too steep.
The game is fun a stands out the most of the 3 Serious Sam indie titles; partly because of the genre switch and partly because of the art style. While it will last between an hour or two for most it could easily be more or less depending on your skill and your drive to play the endless mode. Unfortunately because of some of the battles being so unpredictable in difficulty and some almost useless weapons the game feels like it hasn’t lived up to its potential. Regardless it carries the Serious Sam brand of humour and is a nice fun game to play through.
While the difficulty of the game ramps up quickly; if you can find the right combination of weapons you can just plough through the game from that point onwards. The game is fun and if it were to be refined and extended it could easily improve itself in the places where it needs it; such as the length and battles in the game.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.