Serious-Sam--The-Random-Encounter-Review Serious Sam: The Random Encounter Review

   29/11/2011 at 22:36       Stuart       1 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Vlambeer, Indie

Every so often you’re asked to look at a game that completely overturns your expectations. Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is one of those, and since its big brother shooter has recently been released, I’d better stop playing it and actually write about it.

Developers Vlambeer have birthed The Random Encounter as a bizarre hybrid between turn-based JRPG and side-scrolling shooter. You explore a pleasantly retro 16-bit-esque map, populated by invisible packs of enemies that must be shot and exploded in various inventive ways in your search for the evil Mental.

Playing these kind of games leaves me with a faintly rose-tinted sheen for an hour or two, and I often bump into things. The action in Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is all high speed intensity, scattered with combat turn breaks reminiscent of the early Final Fantasy series, where the best weapon for the job must be chosen from your ever-widening selection. Sam and friends run relentlessly backwards and you move them with the up & down arrow keys, dodging bullets and aiming your shots.

The Random Encounter effortlessly transports you back to the heady days of the NES and similar platforms (Z, X and the arrow keys are all the only controls), and manages to capture some of the compulsive simplicity that marked those early favourites. The tactical aspect of your weapon choices makes each battle different, and you’ll soon develop techniques for dealing with the more common enemies. You will hone your reflexes, dodging projectiles and leading Sam and his friends to victory. And, on the way, you will get killed. A lot.

This isn’t a big issue, as death at first resets the fight, then resets the level if you continue to fail – but as the levels are small and the fights so frequent, death becomes a mere inconvenience. It doesn’t matter if you die – you just go back for another round. I found myself sneakily switching it on in the background while (failing) to do other things - The Random Encounter is the kind of game where five minutes is as satisfying as an epic gaming session, where ‘one more go’ isn’t even a question.

The story is a short one, only a few hours long – but the battles are always a little different, and it’s so easy to pick up that even after finishing it, you still want to test your reactions against its hordes of enemies. And so it sits quietly on your hard-drive, teasing you every now and then, drawing your attention away from its bigger brothers and reminding you that above all else, gameplay is the most important thing.

For £3.99, The Random Encounter has plenty of oomph to keep your fingers busy, and looking back I can’t help but feel it would be a perfect port for IOS or similar platforms.

And it has a gloriously bleepy soundtrack. Go go go!

Stars
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Trip SkyWay - on 04/12/2011 at 04:50 wrote:
 
Sounds great.
 


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