Review – Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem
I have always liked the Serious Sam franchise, even though I honestly feel it has never managed to to hit its full potential. Especially with its latest “canonical” installment, Serious Sam 4, which, despite having some good ideas, suffered from a myriad of design flaws and technical issues, whether you played it on PC or console. Siberian Mayhem is the latest entry in the long running franchise and acts as a standalone expansion to that base game. Did Croteam learn from past mistakes? Can this game deliver where Serious Sam 4 didn’t?
To say story isn’t exactly the focus of a Serious Sam game is a massive understatement, as it is the one thing where the word “Serious” doesn’t even attempt to get close to. Still, this game does have a plot… of sorts: Sam and his mates head out to Siberia to hunt down General Brand… for some reason. Honestly, by the time you hear any dialogue related to the story, you will just kind of skip it. You are pretty much playing this kind of game to mindless blast the living hell out of hordes of enemies anyway.
It’s the gameplay where Serious Sam put all its effort into. Unfortunately, Serious Sam 4 didn’t really impress us. Even though it was mostly functional, it just felt dated even at the time of release, not to mention unpolished. Siberian Mayhem is very much the same, so if you didn’t like Serious Sam 4‘s core gameplay then this one will do absolutely nothing to convince you otherwise. It still feels like a low budget version of a modern Doom game. You have the same bunch of weapons, and you will be dealing with the same set of enemies. Repeat this for the six or so hours Siberian Mayhem goes on for. It does occasionally give you a vehicle to drive or mech to control, but these sections are just plain boring.
Where Siberian Mayhem does improve upon its disappointing pseudo-predecessor is with its level design, surprisingly enough. There’s less of the open field with one hundred thousand enemies barrelling down towards you and more design thought put into them. That also results in slightly less terrible framerates as a result. It’s still not phenomenal, and a lot of the encounters do end up taking place in giant, open, boring fields, but I do appreciate the improved level designs, as minute as they were.
Bear in mind, the game is still massively unpolished. When I say that framerate drops are slightly less frequent, I don’t mean they don’t occur. They still do, and for the most bizarre of reasons, with some drops occurring even with plenty of GPU headroom. Then we have the terrible autosave system, that will just save at specific moments even if you are low on health, such as in the middle of a boss battle, a horde encounter, or even when picking up a weapon leaving you vulnerable. I had to resort going back to previous save files a few times. I can only imagine how annoying this can get on higher difficulties.
Graphically, being a standalone expansion (as in, being the same damn game with different maps), this game looks the same as its predecessor. The only major difference is a swap in setting, taking place entirely in snow-covered Siberia. It looks fine at first, but it does get repetitive after just the first mission. There is just so much you can do with vast plains filled with snow. Sound design is also very much the same, so the “love it or hate it” approach of the last game is still very much present. Sam is cocky and a loudmouth, with some amusing one-liners, and others that just don’t land. Weapon sounds are decent enough and enemies still scream at you.
If you have somehow enjoyed the base Serious Sam 4, you will most certainly enjoy Siberian Mayhem. It’s pretty much the same damn game, just with some slightly less terrible performance and some better level design. However, most of these changes don’t make up for a very superior overall package. If you didn’t like that game, this won’t be the one that will make you change your mind. For every fun action-packed encounter, there will be something else that is equally dull to bring the experience down a notch.
Looks very much like Serious Sam 4, with less varied enviroments, but with a less (but still) crappy framerate.
Whilst the gameplay is fine, it also does nothing special. It’s the same as Serious Sam 4, boring mech sections included.
You will either love or hate Sam’s voice acting. The soundtrack gets the job done, without any honours.
Fun Factor: 6.5
As a standalone expansion, if you have somehow liked Serious Sam 4, you will also like this one. It doesn’t tread new grounds, but it does make an effort.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM.
A copy of Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem was provided by the publisher.