In a period of relatively stable resurgence and refreshment of the single-player first-person shooter, Croteam re-emerges after years launching a new, fierce resistance to the invasion of the earth by the cruel Mental: Serious Sam is back in all his chaotic vivacity.

A classic quest

As is customary for the franchise, Serious Sam 4 offers a frenetic experience seasoned with raw humor and, above all, an incalculable amount of cannon fodder through which to make our way in the most classic and traditional way possible: by blowing up everything.

The fourth chapter of the series works as a prequel to The First Encounter, so as to allow even newbies not to feel particularly disoriented by the proposed context without abandoning long-time fans through familiar enemies and now well known to those who have lived the previous chapters of the series.

Following the recent trend of the genre, to season everything there is a story that justifies the bizarre carnage that Sam and his companions will cause: the Syrians have successfully invaded the Earth and, in an attempt to counterattack and repel the aliens, Sam and a small group of rebels embark on the recovery of an ancient alien artifact hidden somewhere in the unspoiled Italian architecture and artistic tradition: the Holy Grail.

Between one one-liner and the next, therefore, we will take on the role of Sam as he makes his way through the Vatican streets in search of the legendary object and a possible solution to free humanity from the forces commanded by Mental.

To accompany us in our adventure we will find a cast easily summarized with well-known archetypes: Sam remains the classic "cool guy" and one-dimensional action hero that we expect, while the team that will accompany him is made up of a set of tropes that, sometimes, he manages to get a laugh while at other times he falls into antiquated and outdated stereotypes that do not contribute substantially to the good exposure of the characters and the deliberately over-the-top writing of the title.

Serious Sam 4 Review: After Doom, a new old school shooter

Run and shoot

Although largely recognizable, the Serious Sam roster remains a large group of great memorable designs, which is fortunate since, as per tradition, the enemies we are going to face will be seen often and in large quantities: easy to identify. to have an immediate understanding of how to handle them: defined by distinctive elements, specific behaviors and sound clues, our targets will rarely take us by surprise, but we will not be overwhelmed as the game will require a constant bouncing from a weapon to all another based on the most appropriate situation against the numerous hordes of aliens that will be hurled in our direction.
And it is precisely the large amount of enemies that will make up the hordes in the various missions the fundamental fulcrum of Serious Sam 4, so as to dominate any other aspect leaving little time to admire the firepower of the weapons and often depriving the player of any real sense of power, continuing to hurl a flood of aliens at him to be massacred with all the resources at his disposal.

For the rest, the gameplay can be summed up with moving from one large arena (initially empty) to another accompanied by a rather standard arsenal, mostly shared with the previous chapters, without being particularly inspired or memorable.
Occasionally we will find some gadgets that will allow us to have some useful support at the cost of a consumable item, ranging from holographic lures to portable black holes, but the depth and substance of the title stops there: the long battles of Serious Sam 4 end. therefore to become tedious and monotonous as limited to reducing wave after wave of aliens to a cloud of blood without stimulating the player in other directions than those of antiquated vehicular sequences, sometimes consisting of an empty road with the occasional jump ramp .

Not even boarding a gigantic mech with an unlimited arsenal can change the hint, actually removing the strategic element that can be found in standard combat.
Not that the game is easy: between the high amount of enemies on the screen and the scarcity of resources available (although occasionally we will find areas that fill us with life, armor and ammunition) survival will require a certain degree of attention and commitment from the part. of the player, offering an adequate challenge if not for bosses, strangely simpler than many regular battles.
Some secondary objectives, in particular, will be among the most difficult fights offered by the game.

Unfortunately everything becomes much less impressive if played in co-op, where dying doesn't involve loading a previous save (which can often happen in extremely uncomfortable moments) but allows you to pick up exactly where you died from facilitating the experience and the resource management considerably.

All of this, on the whole, is acceptable although at times trivial, with some reservations towards the technical sector that is not always adequate.

Serious Sam 4, still images and gameplay trailer for the new chapter of the series - SpazioGames

Indecision

Serious Sam 4 is plagued by a myriad of technical issues, especially in the game's cutscenes, and while it maintains a stable framerate in the most fast-paced combat sequences, it has several optimization issues while not presenting an exactly top-notch level of model care. , textures and animations.

There is indeed a level of approximation to virtually every technical aspect out of combat, which the staggering amount of enemies allowed by Croteam's technology can't really make up for, especially when the game relies on that aspect a little. too often.

The fundamental idea of ​​"let's get more enemies" is therefore reduced to a gimmick by the lack of variety of gameplay between one battle and another, leaving Serious Sam 4 in a limbo between the old and the new (there are in fact hints of ideas modern like dual wielding and a rudimentary skill tree) without really wanting to immerse yourself in either, thus failing to reinvent itself in a way that could disappoint even the most avid fans of the old school feeling of the genre, resulting in a title that manages, effort, to do the bare minimum without surprising or leaving behind the feeling of wanting more.