The long-anticipated new installment of Serious Sam 4 hasn’t done itself any favors. In May, one of the developers informed the community the censorship of the Stygian Harpy was there to stay, and if they wanted to look at “gazoongas” there were other games for that.
Immediately the community was divided into pro and anti-censorship, with another faction commenting the game looked painfully dated. Leaving only a small minority looking forward to the game.
After a few days of blowback, a developer chimed in on the issue over on the game’s Discord, clarifying that the harpy was not being censored, and the model showing the censorship was a two-year-old model for demonstration purposes. Why the company was using a two-year-old asset in a current trailer was not explained, but the likely explanation is the censorship was ordered reverted following the backlash.
Of course, the Stadia exclusivity announcement didn’t help the game’s reputation either. After the announcement, many were confused as to whether the game was releasing exclusively on Stadia like Orcs Must Die 3, or if it was going to have a dual release on Steam. For the record, the exclusivity is for a streaming platform only, and the game will launch simultaneously on Stadia and Steam.
This trend of poor decisions continues with the most recent gameplay trailer revealing a graphically dated game. Where enemy models have significantly improved compared to the prior entry in the series, the environments remain bland and dated. This could be forgiven had the trailer showed off the massive environment that you will need vehicles to traverse as you fight through upwards of tens of thousands of enemies on screen at once, but it doesn’t.
Any veteran Serious Sam player knows you don’t play Serious Sam for cutting edge graphics. You play it for the intense, exhaustive combat against massive hordes of enemies. The game being graphically dated isn’t so much a problem as is the continued failure to show off anything other than the improved enemy models. A handful of enemies and barely any action in the combat sequences does not instill confidence that this game can deliver on its promises.
On a positive note, the trailer succeeds in dispelling the concerns over how lore was going to be treated. Expanding the hero of the resistance’s back story to that of a captain of his own ship fits with the established lore of him fighting on numerous colony world before falling back to Earth. Finally, seeing the new vessels that have only been hinted at in the artwork is cool. Their organic design leaves me craving more and looking forward to fighting them, but their function remains a mystery.
Hopefully, the continued failure to show off the expansive environments and legions of enemies is a poor marketing decision rather than an indication of developmental troubles. We’ll find out in August whether that is the case or not.