Serious Sam is back to bring destruction and death in Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. You probably expected this much, but with Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, you will see Serious Sam in a new, refreshing way. Most would associate Serious Sam with first-person shooters, but The Random Encounter is actually an action role-playing game. RPG fans will enjoy this compact experience, which takes the best of the Serious Sam franchise and blends it nicely with a turn-based action RPG. All of this is tied together by a well-designed 16-bit art style and a decent array of weapons to blast your enemies with, and all this takes place in the familiar Serious Sam universe. Although this game is quite short, there is still enough substance to keep you occupied for a few hours, and if you are a fan or just looking for a fun RPG experience, this is something to consider.
Serious Sam: The Random Encounter starts out with Serious Sam standing in a teleporter. He is transported back a second later and says that the First Encounter didn’t go so well. He realizes that it’s time to make up for his failure and get the job done right. After a short cut-scene you are shown the main map, with your character clearly marked, and the object of each level is to get to the other side of the map. Combat is initiated by random encounters – every four or five steps you will start a battle. The battle system is turn-based, with you and your crew against a horde of monsters. They approach you from the left, while you are on the right. You choose your weapon and trajectory, and once you decide how you are going to approach the battle, the weapons are fired automatically as the horde starts moving towards you. While you are executing your turn you can move up or down to concentrate your fire or get out of the way of an attack. The winner is whoever is left standing by the time the entire horde moves to the right side of the screen. Then it’s back to the map overview for you to continue your journey. There are three worlds with about three or four levels per world, and five main bosses to contend with. It is all pretty simple and straightforward. Any RPG fan will catch on to how the game is played quickly, which represents why this game is so appealing.
The game itself is solid. The battle system is fast-paced, and the RPG and shooter elements are blended in a way that is interesting and fun for the duration. We don’t think the battle system would stay fresh through multiple play-throughs, but for the time you need to beat the game, it is perfect. One issue we found with the game was when you started reaching the end and the enemies got tougher and the number of them increased. This is to be expected, but if you didn’t save your healing items or damage modifiers for these later stages, you won’t stand much of a chance. There is no way to replenish those items, so when you use them, you lose them. We would have liked to see a currency system and possibly a store or marketplace so you can get those items which you need so desperately, and stock up before you go into big battles.
Another issue is that some of the weapons aren’t balanced quite right. You have some guns that are very powerful and other guns which are almost completely useless. With a little trial and error, you should be able to pick up on what guns are best for which enemies, and how to use them in combat situations. But when faced with such a limited arsenal, it is frustrating to have some guns which are so obviously inferior. A common part of what makes a great RPG is the variety of weapons and attacks. The Random Encounter really lacks that variety and it hurts the game overall.
All in all, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is a good game for the money. It’s a short, compact experience with light RPG elements. This game fits well into the Serious Sam franchise and delivers what the fans expect, and that is over-the-top combat with a few one-liners thrown in for good measure. For those looking for some thrills for a couple of bucks, we would definitely recommend this game, especially if you are a Serious Sam fan.
[xrr rating=8/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a review copy of the Steam version of Serious Sam: The Random Encounter provided by Vlambeer.