Serious Sam: Tormental
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Serious Sam: Tormental
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Serious Sam: Tormental is a downloadable arcade shooter with roguelike elements, available for Windows (via the Steam digital store). This is the latest title in the Serious Sam franchise. The game follows its titular protagonist as he discovers an ancient Egyptian artifact that allows him to enter the mind of his archnemesis Mental. The layers of his imagination are filled with all sorts of creatures and bosses that the player must fight through multiple times over to see if there's a way to stop this evil mastermind from within. The player kills all manner of monsters, but the violence is tame, with simple effects like cartoony blood droplets. Language is minimal, with words like "hell," "damn," and "ass."
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What’s It About?
In SERIOUS SAM: TORMENTAL, the player is Sam Stone: an action hero who has concocted his latest plan to defeat the alien deity Mental. Time and time again, this baddie has thrown countless kinds of monstrous enemies at Sam, but now their feud is being taken to the metaphysical plane, thanks to a magical artifact that allows Sam's spirit to enter Mental's imagination. Now, you have to battle your way through shifting landscapes and complete a series of challenges to obtain keys, which are used to gain access to the deepest recesses of Mental's mind. Will this be the answer to attain a final victory over the sinister villain? With loads of weapons and abilities to collect, it's time to lock and load.
Is It Any Good?
This first-person shooter series has been kicking for a couple of decades, but exploring a new game genre is a first for the franchise. In Serious Sam: Tormental, the player has a top-down perspective on the action and strafes around small, tight arenas filled with traps, walls, and minions. Instead of a linear story with levels you play through and move on from, this is a "roguelike" game, meaning that if players die, they have to restart from the beginning. But levels always change their layout and enemy placement, which helps each rerun feel new. This is helped by the game's having dozens of enemy types for players to fight. Players will almost always discover something new, including weapons and abilities that can be customized with special attachments and upgrades. Despite these robust elements of gameplay, there are only five small worlds that can be traversed in less than 10 minutes each. Once you go through them all, you simply loop back to the beginning with tougher enemies to defeat until you die. Repetition sets in quickly, but even though the game has fewer levels than most roguelikes, it provides compelling, silly challenges along the way. These unlock keys to the final boss and modifiers that can increase your score at the cost of penalties, such as increasing enemy damage or limiting ammo.
Tormental may not distinguish itself with anything unique, but it feels well designed. The controls are snappy and punchy, with movement, aiming, and rolling being responsive and smooth. All of the weapons and their upgrades feel great and allow for different play styles. The only technical issue involves a slow, chugging frame rate when the action becomes heavy and chaotic, but this isn't frequent enough to be a major problem. Serious Sam: Tormental may involve nothing to write home about with its simplistic graphics and story, but it's got it where it counts with perfectly decent gameplay striking a surprising balance between quality and quantity.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the conversation that happens between Serious Sam and his archenemy Mental. The short conversations between the hero and villain reveal things about their motivations. Why would someone like Mental be so obsessed with destroying everything around him when he could use his power to improve and fix things?
What are some ways you can take bad feelings, like anger and fear, and come to terms with them? What are some ways you can channel those feelings toward constructive behavior and action?
- Platform: Windows
- Pricing structure: Paid ($11.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Release date: April 8, 2022
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: December 1, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Very tough, old-school sci-fi shooter with flawed gameplay.
Deep arcade-like shooter has lots of cartoonish violence.
Mature, bloody dungeon crawler is exceptional adventure.
For kids who love action
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