Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is more of the chaos, mayhem and classic one-liners, but some recurring issues from Serious Sam 4 reared their heads marring the experience.
Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem was a surprise release that came out of nowhere, releasing on January 25, 2022. Croteam teamed up with some of the most talented members of the Serious Sam modding community under the banner of Timelock Studio to develop this standalone expansion to 2020’s Serious Sam 4, extending the fast-paced first-person shooter gameplay and wild antics of Sam Stone. While we were graced with more of his hilarious one-liners, this expansion suffered from similar display and performance issues that plagued the previous game. I did have a lot of fun across the five chapters, and some of the environment vistas looked stunning with plenty of screenshot moments, however the game did crash a few times which soured the experience a little.
It still impresses me the sheer volume of monsters that come on screen at once and there were plenty of glorious and bloody moments throughout my 4 hours in the game. Other friends have taken longer to get through their games and I didn’t find all of the side missions either. Set in Russia, in between the final levels of Serious Sam 4, we start off easy with just a pistol. As you progress you will come across weapon modifications, such as a grenade launcher for the shotgun, and some new weapons added in this expansion. I commenced my new journey on the normal difficulty and managed my way through the first two chapters. However, come the third chapter, I had to drop the difficulty back to easy, especially when playing solo, mainly due to the numbers of monsters constantly spawning in areas. It was hectic, chaotic, gruesome fun, but I enjoyed it more at the easier difficulty.
Playing co-op with mates was much easier in that you both can handle various groups of mobs at a time, but the constant onslaught in certain sections of chapter 3 and beyond had me struggling a bit. The first two chapters played like most levels found in Serious Sam 4. It’s relatively linear and there’s plenty of ammo and health packs to find, but also it was worth exploring for the side missions. The side missions in Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem were well worth doing and if you haven’t started playing or haven’t finished the game yet, I encourage you to explore and try seek them out. I actually felt some of the side missions were better than some of the early primary objectives, and you would always get rewarded with skill points and sometimes new weaponry or upgrades.
The plethora of awesome weaponry from Serious Sam 4 are back, however there are three new weapons added with this expansion. There was a special AK47 which was great for picking off nimble flying objects, a super powerful energy crossbow that could take out several monsters if they were lined up perfectly, and finally a burning raygun that absolutely destroyed hordes of mobs. Once you’ve found all the available guns, you become quite invincible but you can still get dominated if you stand still or aren’t watching your back. The music when battles kick in was so good and fit well with the aesthetic of the Russian/Siberian landscapes and towns.
There was one mission where we got to ride in a huge mech, like Serious Sam 4 and it’s a whole lot of fun blowing so many monsters up with one bomb or a swipe of the mech’s sword. Later, we get to drive a tank in a huge open field and unleash hell on hordes of monsters as well as some new sentry towers which shoot air strikes, missiles and chainguns at you. You need to wait until its core is exposed to damage them. The large open spaces were ok if you had a vehicle, however there were numerous times through my time in Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem where I was just running across large open fields unopposed with no monsters spawning in. It was jarring to have such intense fights one minute, then spending a couple of minutes running kilometres in open areas with no action.
The fourth chapter has us meeting up with some allies, Natasha, Vlad, Ledov and Ivan, and it was here where I had the most laughs. They team up with you to take on hordes of monsters, and in between battles they’re chatting away at what they thought about Serious Sam and how they feel about him now having met him in the flesh. They are his biggest fans and had me laughing at their comments. Sam: “So, how do you folks in these parts deal with the stress of war?” Ivan: “Vodka” Sam: “I should have seen that coming.”
The humourous moments are what kept me playing Serious Sam 4 despite the graphical issues and the tedium of the gameplay loops in between story segments and boss fights. Unfortunately, those same issues were present in this game too. Most of the cutscenes had characters with their clothing loading in slowly, or their faces would glitch slightly. Then every new level would first take time to load, then the game would jolt and stutter for a few seconds as you get underway.
I imagine it’s due in part to handling so many monsters spawning in at once, and when they do spawn in with fields of monsters charging at you, it all runs incredibly smooth. It’s just those moments where there’s downtime between fights or running into a new area where there’s noticeable jarring and hitches. I did crash a few times too, but thankfully there are enough auto saves that I never lost any mission progress. As you complete each chapter and meet new allied characters, you’ll unlock their skins to use in later chapters and multiplayer.
Overall, I gave this standalone expansion a 7/10. Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is more of the chaos, mayhem and classic one-liners, but some recurring issues from Serious Sam 4 reared their heads marring the experience. Whilst the environments looked incredible in parts and it still impresses me how they can support the sheer volume of baddies on screen at once, there were constant reminders of issues. Chapters 4 and 5 were standouts though with good levels of humour and bloody gory action, leaving me wanting more once the credits rolled.
This review utilised a key provided by PowerUp PR and Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is out now on Steam.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis