Review: Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem delivers the carnage you’d expect

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is all brawn and no brain and, after two decades of iconic chaos, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem places the series’ legendary hardman Sam Stone in an icy environment and tells you to get shooting. There’s a quick wisecracking gag about how inappropriate his outfit is, he draws his pistol, and then the game forces you to go bang bang.

This action-first formula isn’t anything new, in fact it’s a bit of a throwback to a bygone era; a time before a game’s story was considered important (or checked for plot holes), and discussions of Ludonarrative dissonance would have raised eyebrows.

The funny thing is that, in comparison to the majority of games being made today, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem actually feels fresh and different. Sure, it isn’t going to blow your mind with amazing graphics, or teach you anything about the human condition, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t have anything to offer.

It’s a game at the end of the day, and games are meant to be a fun distraction. I’m not saying that modern games can’t aim for cinematic grandeur; I had just as good a time as anyone playing grumpy dad in 2018’s God of War. But if you come to Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem armed with those expectations you’d be missing the point.

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Image: Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem / Croteam

Side note: can you imagine if someone tried to give Serious Sam the God of War ‘mature’ treatment? By like turning the cold climate into a climate change metaphor, or morphing Sam into a scientist with a dark past. Honestly, it could be one of those so bad it’s good cases (something which I’m more than a little partial to).

As it is though, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem knows exactly what it is: an unambitious, yet thoroughly entertaining romp with no delusions of greatness. Speaking of which, I should probably note that this isn’t a long game (in the 6-8 hour range for proficient players), and that’s probably a good thing.

The pacing of Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is breakneck fast, the music rarely lets you breathe, and the number of enemies you will have to dispatch is ridiculous. It’s a heavy metal game that’s only prepared to pause long enough to throw the occasional cheeky wink at whoever’s playing it. Is the game funny? Sometimes and sort of…but I’d argue that’s enough.

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Image: Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem / Croteam

But are there any serious drawbacks? First of all, this game is a good time not a long one, and it’s been priced accordingly ($28.95 USD). If you are looking for a quick adventure to blow off some steam, and maybe have a giggle, then look no further.

Unless, however, technical issues could be a deal breaker for you. There are reports online that some players are experiencing serious problems with Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem. The game initially gave me a frustrating run around, only wanting to start in some godawful resolution on the lowest settings (despite my PC being more than capable).

I managed to solve this problem quickly by changing some GPU settings, and the game proceeded to run pretty reasonably after that (the odd stutter but nothing that impacted my enjoyment significantly). Nonetheless, I would recommend purchasing it somewhere with a solid refunds policy, such as Steam, to mitigate this risk.

In closing, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem knows exactly what it wants to be, and it just about accomplishes that with time to spare. It isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but as long as you go in knowing what to expect you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is available now on PC.