Pretty much what would happen if a side-scrolling version of Diablo had its way with The Matrix. This is, yes, a good thing.
Two things almost stopped me from trying out developer Dreadbit’s super fun and challenging Seraph ($12.99). One was the claim of not needing to aim in a side-scrolling shooter (What?!), and the other was the use of the words ‘Gun Fu’ (Geshundheit!) in the game description.
Seraph is a super-slick, skill-based, acrobatic shooter. Take the role of an angel who’s mastered the art of ‘Gun Fu’ as she battles her way through hordes of twisted demons.
Ugh. That reminded me of sitting through the 2002 action flick Equilibrium, one of those movies where you have to throw both your suspension of disbelief (some of those plot points!) and sense of wonder (the film’s dreary tone overwhelms the solid stunts) under a truck before buying a ticket. Thankfully, unlike that Bale-jumping flick, Seraph has style to spare, the screens and trailers showed tons of promise and yes, the game does deliver the goods every chance it gets.
You play as the titular female angel, a death-dealer trapped in two places: a demon-packed prison and the fragile frame of a human. If that body perishes, so does our agile heroine. Equipped with Olympic-style acrobatic moves and two different weapons from an increasingly powerful selection, the game task players with surviving some pretty hellish enemy types who want that angel pushing up daisies.
The single-player only focus might annoy some gamers who want everything they play MOBA-fied (ugh). But this allows Dreadbit to fully realize the character’s fluid animation and super-stylish, speedy gunplay. AS this is still in Early Access (well, until 9/20), you may experience some technical issues when running full screen at high resolutions, but switching to windowed mode helped here. Aiming may be automatic, but firing weapons and moving throughout the game’s small to sprawling levels is all up to you. To keep players hooked in even more, there’s a unique difficulty system in play that increases as demons are slain, meaning the game isn’t ever “easy” past the first few procedure-generated maps. In fact, powerful sub-bosses drop in early for tea and become standard issue pests for the long haul. Experimentation is also a big deal, as upgrading the character’s increasing roster of skills using parts from dead monsters will keep her alive longer.
The game lets you know when you’re rewarded with the ability to craft new upgrades, acquire new skills and anything else it doles out for your eager participation. This makes playing for even one or two action-packed maps a day still as rewarding as blowing through as much content as possible in one sitting. In fact, the replay factor here is high thanks to the random maps and cool loot potential. There are even online play modes in the form of daily challenges and an ongoing Survival mode where the game’s story mode is played and lasts as long as your character’s lives hold out. So far, so great on this one, but let’s hope Dreadbit gets this all tightened up even more and gets it onto consoles at some point. A game such as this is perfect for those who prefer a controller in-hand and a few more feet between them and certain doom.
In other words, come for the run ‘n gun, but stick around for the fun you’ve won. This devil-killing angel’s got a great future… provided she survives her great escape(s).
Score: B (80%)
(P)review code supplied by the publisher.