I was pretty shocked when I found out a new Serious Sam game was announced. I am less shocked now I’ve realised it’s actually a standalone expansion to Serious Sam 4 – that makes faaar more sense.
Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is a Russian-flavoured epilogue that throws Samuel the Serious into the chilly shores – and later, gorgeous woods – of the Russian landscape, to meet some new faces and tie up a few loose ends. You’ll experience AK-47s, vodka, and holding down the trigger until your gun goes *click* – the authentic video game Russia experience.
Sam Stone – Now with added comrades
Besides snow, one thing that Siberian Mayhem throws at you is more. Serious Sam 4 had a recurring question of ‘is MORE better?’ MORE room to fight, MORE guns, MORE enemies…you get the picture. In the frigid lands of Mayhem, they have somehow managed to give you even more of all of this, but I am still unsure if more is more.
Sure, scope and spectacle become wild at times. Seeing literally hundreds of enemies cresting a hill as you hurry to bring dual AK-47s to bear against the horde feels exhilarating – but after several straight minutes of turning these poor bastards to paste, you start to wonder if maybe it’s a little too gratuitous.
…then the game throws four massive Khnum monsters at you, and the blood is pumping again.
All the terrain you could want for an All Terrain Vehicle
Speaking of guns, it just isn’t a visit to Russia without paying respects to its iconic firearm – the ‘Avtomat Kalashnikova’, known to most as the AK-47. I have wielded the weapon countless times, but within the hands of Sam it feels shockingly brutal. While sharing the spotlight with a Soviet ‘Heat Beam’ weapon and a Tesla Crossbow, it still managed to shine. I actually rushed to unlock the dual wield ability so I could double my fun.
This is something I have to offer special praise towards – the rapid nature of upgrades within the game. Skill points are around most corners, and underneath a numerous amount of rocks if you are willing to scrounge. This means that the more bananas upgrades are yours to experience super quickly, such as dual wielding missile launchers or beserking for more damage when low on health.
Oh thank god, I live there
Graciously the developers saw fit to include another mech gameplay section within your visit to Siberia – a definite highlight of Serious Sam 4. This time, the words “giant wrist-mounted chainsaw” were spoken softly to me by Sam himself before I started my rampage – and boy it did not disappoint. I almost didn’t want to fire the mech’s rockets – making meat rain from the sky seemed far more suitable to the occasion.
While there are only a handful of levels within this expansion, they are vast and littered with secrets and secondary objectives. A notable change from the base game is how the secondary objectives are a great deal more fleshed out, with multiple phases of content before reaching your reward. Skipping these side objectives is something I’d consider a solid loss to the player – they are all fun, with a number of them being quite clever and well thought out enough that I lament that they aren’t considered mandatory content.
This will heat up even the coldest war
Another highlight is a neat little detail where you can catch enemies talking about Serious Sam himself. While it feels alien and unnatural to approach enemies without your guns blazing, on occasion you can actually find groups of the smaller humanoid enemies sharing stories they have heard about the deadly American known as Sam, and questioning if he is hundreds of feet tall and possibly has laser eyes. A particularly funny detail that you could miss is that during these conversation they often refer to the same member of Mental’s army sharing the stories, with doubters wondering why Sam might have “three arms instead of four,” or “how on Earth could he shoot lasers AND rockets from his eyes at the same time?” It’s a solidly amusing bit that I thoroughly enjoyed.
How on Earth could he shoot lasers AND rockets from his eyes at the same time?
While the game does have encounters that are boss-like, the experience only really has one truly defined boss battle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s suitably epic and challenging – but by the time it arrives, you find yourself wondering if you missed something. I managed to find the odd boss-lite encounter as part of side objectives, but feel that maybe one other enemy-focused fight might have fleshed out my experience a tad more.
Much like Serious Sam 4, this game has the odd performance issue, the most egregious of which has to be the crazy texture pop-in that occurs. My rig is no slouch, it really came down to some baffling situations where textures seemed to load and unload during the same scene. Sam conversing with someone? For God knows why, each time the camera would focus on Sam, his face would rapidly have his textures pop back in. And this wasn’t isolated – this was every time he re-entered the camera’s focus. Thankfully, it’s more amusing than irritating.
Chainsaw arm. ‘Nuff said.
While it does not dramatically change the radical dinosaur that is Serious Sam 4, it does provide more unbridled carnage that defines the series – just now with a distinctly Russian flavour. Blasting enemies with dual-wielded AK-47’s and joking about vodka define the experience, and while it may not appeal to everyone, I know a lot of us will get a kick out of it.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher
- Timelock Studio, Croteam
- Devolver Digital
- January 25, 2022